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What’s the best drink to have with sushi?

Written by: Kelly Choi
What’s the best drink to have with sushi?

If you’re preparing some fresh, authentic sushi in the comfort of your own home, you might be wondering what drinks pair well with it. There’s no wrong drink to have alongside sushi, so it’s a matter of taste (and what drinks you have in the cupboard). 

However, if you’re planning a sushi-making party it’s worth considering what drinks to provide for your guests. To help you to decide, we’ve put together a list of the most popular asian drinks that perfectly complement different types of sushi.

6 drink pairings to try next time you have sushi 

1. Wine 

Many people love a glass of wine with their meal, but what type of wine is best with sushi? Red wine can overwhelm the subtle flavours in sushi, so choose a white wine over red. White wine is a good choice as it works well with seafood due to its high acidity (rather like adding a splash of lemon juice to the fish). A dry, semi-sweet Riesling complements a spiced tuna roll beautifully, while a dry Chardonnay is a great match for any seafood sushi. 

Sips of champagne will also go well with sushi. Champagne works especially well with sushi that includes fish eggs because of the natural saltiness of the fish eggs. Plus, the mineral qualities in both the champagne and fish eggs create a match made in heaven.

2. Sake 

Sake is actually not traditionally served with sushi in Japan. However, if you want to try sake with sushi, a strong sake might be too much as it could overwhelm subtle flavours in the sushi. 

Even if the sushi flavour is strong (such as tuna), a strong sake won’t make a great match. For sushi such as the nigiri roll or California roll, choose a sake like Dry Ginjo or Junmai.

3. Beer 

Beer is a great informal drink to have alongside sushi. However, watch out: the bitterness in some beers can spoil some of the sushi flavours. Go for beers such as Kirin, Asahi Dry Lager, Sapporo or a pilsner — these light beers won’t overwhelm the sushi flavours and will complement the fish. A cold beer and some fresh sushi makes the perfect combination during warm weather.

4. Tea 

Tea makes a wonderful pairing for sushi and it also acts as a palate cleanser between pieces. If you can still taste the last piece of sushi you had while trying a different type, then you won’t taste all the new flavours. You can also serve tea in pretty teapots or china cups, ideal for creating a sharing environment with your family at meantimes. 

Green tea is an ideal palate cleanser. Sencha is a popular type of green tea served in sushi restaurants. The bitter taste of sencha pairs well with fish. Genmaicha is another green tea popular in Japanese restaurants. It has a nutty aroma because it’s made by combining sencha leaves with roasted rice. 

Ginger tea is also good for palate cleansing, which is why a piece of pickled ginger is often eaten between different types of sushi. 

5. Cocktails 

Cocktails are tricky to pair with sushi as many of the flavours can be overpowering and there are so many different combinations. If you’re sipping sweet, fruity cocktails alongside your sushi, you might not be able to taste a subtle fish flavour. Cocktails with high acidity could counteract this. Pick cocktails with citrus fruits and ginger (like a Moscow Mule), or sherry (Sherry Cobbler). If you’re having a sushi-making party, chalk up the cocktails you’ll be serving on a chalkboard or decorate a menu so that your guests can take their pick.

6. Non-alcoholic 

Although pickled ginger is primarily a palate cleanser when it comes to sushi, it also makes a great pairing. Try a refreshing glass of cold ginger ale or some tangy real lemonade to accompany your fish sushi. 

Homemade sushi is much cheaper than in a restaurant and you can benefit from having a plentiful supply of different drinks to hand. This helps to create a warm, social environment to invite friends and family over to share. Everyone can get involved


Don't forget to share with a friend!

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