Spring has fully sprung in Washington and while the cherry blossoms have come and gone, both the pollen count and the tourist tally are on the rise.
But the passing of the vernal equinox holds more in store than just the promise of longer days, warmer weather and allergy medicine. It also denotes — at least for me — the official beginning of sushi season in our house.
Now I know that you can eat sushi any time of year, but somehow the warm spring weather just seems to make the amaebi taste just a tad sweeter and the spicy tuna rolls just a bit zestier.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when Japanese beer and sake were considered the only acceptable adult beverages to enjoy with traditional servings of maki rolls and nigiri. But all of that has changed, thanks in part to open-minded sushi restaurateurs who have included thoughtful wine selections to pair with their Japanese-centric cuisine.
Here are a few choice selections to look out for at your favorite sushi restaurant or to pick up with your carry out.
I really like sparkling wines with sushi dishes, particularly if they are crisp and refreshing. The Non-Vintage Juve Y Camps Riserva de la Familia Brut from the Penedes region of Spain is made from a blend of 55% Xarel·lo, 35% Macabeo and 10% Parellada grapes and offers notes of white flowers and toasted bread on the nose. Flavors of green apple and nectarine fruit dominate in the mouth and are beautifully balanced by bracing acidity. The bright little bubbles provide a palate-cleansing finish that goes nicely with avocado-rich California rolls. $16
Off-dry wines can be a heavenly match with sushi, like the 2015 Trimbach Gewürztraminer from Alsace, France. This lovely Gewürztraminer exhibits a floral bouquet of nectarine, lychee nut and nutmeg. Flavors of mango and passion fruit are built on a slightly sweet frame, but the crisp acidity keeps the flavors focused and clean. Hints of tangy ginger on the finish make this an ideal pairing with sweet shrimp or yellow tail. $20
The 2017 Leeuwin Estate Siblings Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon from the Margaret River region in Australia is a white blend that is a bit softer than a traditional Sauvignon Blanc, which tends to put more emphasis on the palate than the finish. The fragrant nose features scents of tropical fruit and zesty lemon/lime that also shows up on the palate where they are joined by flavors of honeydew melon and peach. The wine has a nice balance between acidity and fruit with a slightly softer finish featuring lingering notes of citrus and minerals. A good wine to enjoy with scallops or shrimp. $20
Pinot Noirs go great with richer fish, such as salmon and tuna. This substantial roundness and depth of the 2016 Domaine Faiveley Bourgogne Pinot Noir from Burgundy, France, is made by one of Burgundy’s most famous producers. This elegant Pinot Noir features a wonderful bouquet of strawberry, black plum and graphite. Concentrated flavors of ripe Rainier cherry, wild strawberry, spice and violets are in balance with the firm tannins and abundant acidity. A stunning wine for only $24
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