When it comes to pairing wine with sushi, oftentimes two varietals are positioned as the ultimate matches for any variation of the Japanese delicacy. Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Recently I came across a Riesling which I found to be the ultimate pairing for nigiri.
Riesling is by far my favourite varietal. It can be so expressive, versatile and refreshing to drink, and it's incredibly easy to pair with food.
Here's a quote from from Niagara wine writer Rick VanSickle that sums up my thoughts.
"Riesling is Niagara’s most important variety, the one grape that is comfortable in the extreme heat of the summer and severe cold of an unpredictable Ontario winter. It rarely suffers from a poor vintage; there are only good vintages and better vintages in Niagara. But much more than that, it offers up an endless amount of joy in the glass no matter what the pricetag says".
When I have a craving for sushi (and I know that I'm getting takeout), I will usually determine what I will order based on what bottle of Riesling I have in the fridge. Bottles from different producers can speak to the expressiveness of where the grapes came from and of course vintage. Arguably more so than any other varietal.
Is it very fresh? bursting with acidity? tropical? sweet?
Depending on how fresh and acidic the Riesling is, that will tell me that it's ready to go toe-to-toe with raw fish. If its lean and crisp, I'll order nigiri. If its tropical and slightly sweeter, then make it a spicy tuna roll.
Today, my wine is a Riesling from a family-owned estate winery located in Vineland that has won numerous awards in the last year for its wines, winemaker, and for its winemaking practices.
Tawse's six level gravity flow processing facility recently achieved its official biodynamic certification, and it received the certification for two wines. The 2010 Quarry Road Riesling and the 2010 Quarry Road Gewurztraminer.
The Riesling is a great pairing for sushi because its explodes on the palate with fresh citrus fruit notes and has this underlining backbone of minerality that slices through fat and oils. It's not only refreshing to drink, the hint of sugar in the wine is instantly soaked up with each piece of fish, leaving you with refreshed palate for the subsequent bites.
My only wish? This riesling needs to be in all my favourite Toronto sushi restaurants (Omi, Yuzu, Japango, Hiro).
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Written by Suresh Doss
Suresh Doss is the publisher of SpotlightToronto.com and Rickshawmag.com. Founder of the Food Truck Eats festival, Suresh has been a pioneer for the Street food movement in Toronto. In 2011, He was awarded the VQA Promoter’s Award for outstanding achievement in the Media category in the promotion of Ontario VQA Wines. Suresh is also the Global Editor for Whitecap’s StreetEats series of travel guides, which focuses on the best street food across North America.