For years, I worked in Japanese Restaurants serving sushi to those who caught on to the unavoidable sushi addiction and to those who were merely getting their feet wet in the slightly barbaric act of eating raw fish. To be honest, I actually miss it. I even have shooting pains of desire to be back in a sleek and classy restaurants explaining the intricacies of sushi while suggesting wines that would pair well with their particular a la carte menu. Debating whether they would enjoy a pungent and fishy flavor like Mackerel or a more mild and delicate flavor such as Halibut is a wonderful challenge. If my day was going exceedingly well, I might even have a customer give me a price point that I would have to meet with any combination of sushi, sake and wine as I saw fit. It was this moment that I hoped for as I began a busy Friday night. The challenge not only consisted of whether I could intuit the combination of rolls and nigiri (piece of fish on a ball of rice), but also whether they would enjoy a cava to lift the wasabi off the palate or a cold dry sake that left a touch of sweetness at the finish. What I typically didn’t offer, however, was a Spanish table wine for two solid good reasons. First of all, the only Spanish wine we did offer was a Tempranillo, which pairs quite poorly with sushi but wonderfully with seared Japanese steak. Secondarily, as much as I personally enjoy a Riesling or a GewÃƒÂ¼rztraminer with sushi, few customers agreed with my preference, opting for a Champagne or a Sake to accompany their meal. Although these last two choices are wonderful choices to accompany sushi, table wine can hold well on it’s own against the bite of wasabi.
Fortunately, times have changed! The Japanese winemaker for Freixenet,Yoko Sato, has melded both her culture and his passion for wine into a new blend specifically made for sushi.
‘I always had sushi on the table when blending,’ she (Yoko Sato) told Decanter, ‘It is a struggle to find the best wine match to go with rice, as it has a sweetness. Japanese food consists of many different tastes in one dish.’
Made from Airen, Macabeo and Moscatel, Oroyo (a basket used to transport goods down a river), has made a major splash in the UK but has been struggling to make it in the US. Whether the reason for it’s lack of success is related to the Japanese culture being more of a beer culture than a wine culture, or whether customers still prefer Champagne and sake over table wine, is yet to be seen. What is for sure though is that wine can pair incredibly well with sushi and if you haven’t had the chance to give it a shot, why not try Oroyo with your next sushi adventure and let us know what you think.