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Beer and Wine Pairings: What to Drink with Sushi

A night of fantastic sushi is not complete without the perfect drink pairings to go with your order. If you’re unsure of what to drink with sushi when you go out, Matsuhisa Denver has you covered. With this guide, you can become an expert at beer and wine pairings that will bring out the very best of your sushi dishes.


While Sake is not traditionally served with sushi in Japan, many Americans find that they enjoy the sweetness of a dry sake served alongside their meal. The best pairings are usually those with very mild citrus or melon notes that won’t overpower the flavors of your sushi or sashimi. For the perfect pairing try our very own Chef Nobu’s sake such as the Floral Nobu Junmai Da-Ginjo with the California Roll or the Nobu YK35 Dai-Ginjo with the nigiri.

Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Grigio

These lighter wines are perfect for pairing with sushi dishes such as tuna and yellowtail. The wine is light and isn’t too sweet or too dry, so it closely mimics the flavors of the fish. Tuna and yellowtail are not quite as sweet as some of the other common fish used in sushi, so this makes a good pairing. If you’re new to food and wine pairings, this will give you an excellent balanced start to your journey and allow you to see how the two flavors work together.


Champagne is a perfect companion for just about any type of sushi dish. It is quite dry, but the flavor gives you a blank canvas where you can fully explore the flavors of the fish. You will notice that the flavor of the champagne does not compete with the natural sweetness of most sushi dishes for your attention. Don’t be afraid to celebrate a major achievement with a glass or two of champagne in hand.

Pinot Noir

There’s no denying the intensity of a great pinot noir. When paired with an intricate hand roll, you will fall head over heels in love. These type of rolls typically feature more flavorful ingredients like salmon, nori and even some spicy tuna. The bold flavor of the Pinot Noir naturally supports the bright flavors in the sushi roll for a balanced flavor palate.

Asahi Super Dry Lager

If you’re more of a beer fan, you’re in luck. The Asahi Super Dry Lager is a very nice, mellow beer to enjoy alongside your sashimi or nigiri. It has a very crisp flavor that won’t interfere with the softer notes inherent in the fish. This Japanese inspired beer is practically meant for just this kind of pairing.

Sapporo Lager

This beer is one of the bolder choices around. It has a notable bitterness and a strong hop flavor. However, it works just right with ginger and wasabi so that you can enjoy it with your Negitoro roll or one of the other layered rolls on the menu. Just make sure you pace yourself, so you don’t miss out on all the many flavors that come out of this combination.

Yoho Wednesday Cat Belgian White Nagano

This citrusy, gentle beer is ideal for eating with nigiri or sashimi thanks to the fruity punch it carries. You will find that it is also spiced just right so you can enjoy it with a hint of ginger and it blends marvelously. If you are eating something a little more complex, this beer might be a little too light to enjoy, but it is a great starter to your evening.


The subject of cocktails is a little harder to break down. In general, the best policy is always to go light on the flavoring. For instance, the Elderflower Gimlet is light and airy, and won’t overpower your meal. Many cocktails have robust fruity flavors that will cut into the flavor of your fish, and you will end up missing out. Likewise, straight liquor is not advisable because it is far too harsh for the delicate flavors in great sushi.

Now you have a good idea of what kind of drinks to pair with your favorite sushi dishes. Remember that you have to work carefully to balance the flavors of the fish with the flavors in your beverage. If your beverage is too heavy-handed, it could keep you from enjoying the true nature of the sushi. When in doubt, it is always better to err on the lighter side so that you can get the most out of the sushi without undercutting the flavor. Fortunately, many incredible Japanese beers and wines make for a perfect combination for any dinner date. To learn more, stop by Matsuhisa‘s sushi restaurants in Denver and explore the whole world of flavor available to you in our menu.




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