There is a theory that when pairing Japanese sake with cuisine, the two should complement each other. This means that one should complement the shortcomings of the other, and thus a harmony is achieved with the compatibility of the two pieces.
Of the five tastes, the components of sake include a balance of sweetness, umami, sourness, and bitterness. It is only missing the saltiness. However, sushi contains salt in the vinegar rice and topping, tacitly complementing sake. Sushi is delicious even eaten alone with its multi-layered umami components including acetic acid, glutamic acid and inosinic acid. By pairing with sake, you are adding the organic acids specific to sake, such as succinic acid, malic acid and lactic acid, further enhancing the taste experience.
Let’s discuss how science backs up drinking sake with sushi.
If you are looking for a new favorite sake, you should sample as many different types as you can. If that’s your aim, then filling your stomach with sushi is going to get in the way. The goal here is to ultimately find a sake that pairs well with sushi.
First, you should ask for a small amount of Junmaishu and Ginjoshu (or Junmai-Ginjoshu) recommended by your sushi chef. See the sensation they create in your mouth, whether there is a sweetness or a dryness, and note the fragrance and acidity. Immediately after eating a piece of sushi, try tasting the sake. Your impression may change a lot when paired with the sushi compared to the first sip. This is the true pleasure of pairing sushi and sake.
We hope this information will be helpful.
Revision date: June 1, 2023
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