Sushi’s traditional wine partner has always been Sake and few who have ever enjoyed a feast at a Japanese restaurant would argue the point. But there are times during a sweltering Arizona summer when hot Sake is just a little too much. And cold Sake is just plain sacrilege, so what to do?
After trying a lot of white wine with Sushi over the years, an agreement seems to be jelling. Yep, Arizona wins again. It could be something about the dry heat, fresh air, and soil conditions out there in the vineyards that does something “Sushi-like” to the flavors of AZ wines. Maybe that’s why some of our natively grown white wines from Alcantara Vineyards are just the ticket with Sushi.
Of course, AZ white wines come and go with the vintages, but right now, an excellent AZ wine choice for Sushi pairing is Alcantara’s 2010 Viognier. Its bouquet starts with melon with toasted nuts plus an AZ earthiness that’s really interesting. Great with a veggie Sushi, nearly as good with crab, but with tuna it’s over the top.
The Viognier’s deep body is a perfect mate for the starch in the rice plus also complimenting the wasabi spice and saltiness of the soy sauce. As an added bonus, the lightly acidic finish goes right in with the ginger. This Arizona and Tokyo combo is totally unexpected. Such a deal, no hot Sake and a gourmet white wine combo that works.
You can get it from the winery, AJs, or Whole Foods for under $30. They sell out each vintage so you may want to check into it over the next month or so. Another thing that Alcantara does is rotate in California fruit when an Arizona crop doesn’t produce (frost, monsoons, or other calamity) making flavors sometimes change radically from year to year. It’s best to check first. They’re always willing to share the history of each vintage, even over the phone.
So make the best of this cool spring and summer partner for that plate of Sushi. Serve chilled to suit the heat. As the Viognier warms up in the glass, the flavors become more earthy and full. Here’s to the Arizona “terrior” and Asian Cuisine! A kind of PacRim match made right here in the GC State.