How To Pair Wine And Sushi: Advice From A Sushi Sommelier

Wine and sushiPhoto Credit: DZ Lab/

When you think of sushi, the natural pairing would be sake, right? Wrong—or at least including to sushi sommelier Andrew Pattison of Sushi Note, a new and highly lauded sushi restaurant and wine bar in Sherman Oaks, Calif.  Pattison dispels the notion that only sake or plum wine should be paired with sashimi, noting that wine actually enhances “the leanness, firmness, sweetness and texture of each cut of fish.” Below, he shares why you should pair certain wines with different cuts of fish, and lists specific wines that truly enhance the flavor of each.


Sushi and wine
Andrew Pattison doing what he does best

Photo Credit: Eugene Lee

O Toro + Pinot NoirSushi and winePhoto Credit: Sushi Note

Why: The fattiest cut of bluefin tuna stands up to the tannins of a lighter bodied red like Pinot Noir. Burgundy will always be the go-to, but Pinot from the colder climate growing regions of California like Santa Barbara or the Sonoma Coast can be magical as well.

Try: 2015 Hirsch Vineyards ‘West Ridge’, Fort Ross Seaview, Sonoma: Since 1980, David Hirsch has been growing some of California’s best Burgunidan-style Pinot Noir at his estate in Fort Ross Seaview, Sonoma’s Westernmost appellation. This extreme climate is best expressed in their ‘West Ridge’ bottling, crafting a wine that is defined by its elegance and sets the bar for what Pinot Noir can be in the New World.

Uni + Champagne

Sushi and winePhoto Credit: Sushi Note

Why: Uni, with its briny flavor, can be a tough match for many wines so focus on texture. Pour a mineral-driven Blanc de Blancs champagne for a textural sensation that accentuates the mild flavor and creamy texture of Japanese uni.

Try: 2008 Ployez-Jacquemart Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut, Ludes, France: Vintage Grower-Producer Champagne done at its finest. The 2008 Ployez-Jaquemart delivers the right balance of richness derived from the winemaking technique with the sharp mineral-driven style that you expect from a Blanc de Blancs. Although P-J is based in the Montagne de Rheims, the Chardonnay fruit for this cuvee comes mainly from the Cote des Blancs, Champagne‘s premier region for Chardonnay.

Scallop + White Burgundy

Sushi and winePhoto Credit: Sushi Note

Why: The sweetness of the Hokkaido scallop is best complemented by a high-quality Chardonnay from the Côte de Beaune in Burgundy (like Puligny-Montrachet or Meursault)—especially when served with citrus or salt to round out flavors.

Try: 2017 Joseph Colin Saint-Aubin Premier Cru ‘La Chateniere’, France: Joseph Colin’s debut vintage in 2017 affirms the belief that the Colins are the modern-day masters of the Cotes de Beaune. After years of working for his father, Marc, and brother, Pierre-Yves, Joseph has broken off to create his own legacy. The resulting wines are astounding and something any true Burgundy lover should try to get a hold of immediately.

Halibut Yuzu + Chenin Blanc

Sushi and winePhoto Credit: Sushi Note

Why: Pair white fish accompanied by citrus, sea salt, and pepper notes with Chenin Blanc. To tame the heat of the pepper, go for an off-dry style like Vouvray. If sweeter wine isn’t your thing, pair a dry style from the Loire Valley that is more mineral driven to mirror the salty characteristics.

Try: 2016 Alheit Vineyards ‘Radio Lazarus’, Stellenbosch, South Africa: Chenin Blanc is my favorite grape variety and South Africa is currently producing some of the world’s finest examples. After decades of misdirection, a new generation of winemakers, who look to the classic wine regions of Europe for inspiration, have committed to reshaping vineyard and cellar techniques in order to create world-class wines and they are now realizing that goal. To me, Chris and Suzaan Alheit’s ‘Radio Lazarus’ bottling is the shining example of this growth. Due to drought conditions and a ravaging of the vineyard by wild antelope, this is sadly the last release of this wine, but it showcases the potential of the region in a haunting fashion.