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Sushi & Wine: A Perfect Pairing

Without a doubt, sushi has captured the hearts and palates of people worldwide and our guests at NAPA Kitchen and Wine are no exception. While sushi is traditionally enjoyed with green tea, there are two other beverages that we know to elevate the sushi experience to new heights: wine and sake.

Our culinary director, Tyler Barbaro, describes some of the special techniques that are used to create fresh, handmade sushi, along with his suggested pairings including offerings that you can find on our menu any night of the week!

The first step in preparing incredible sushi is the rice. We select a special short-grain rice that is rinsed, steamed, then gently tossed with a special, seasoned rice wine vinegar. This is what gives our sushi rice a unique flavor and a sticky consistency.

The most important ingredient is the fish. We only use sushi grades of the highest quality. We source our fish from a specialty supplier to ensure the absolute best quality. The seafood must be chilled to exacting temperatures so it is firm and easiest to cut. We cut our seafood into 1/4″ to 2″ thick long batons so it fits perfectly in each roll.

We cut our toppings such as carrot, avocado, and cucumber to nearly the same length as our fish, only slightly thinner, especially when placing them inside a roll. Toppings for the outside of the roll, such as avocado or salmon, will always be cut into thin rectangular pieces which can be strategically draped on top of the roll.

If you enjoy sushi, you know just how important nori is to most rolls. Nori, otherwise known as dried seaweed, is a necessary ingredient in making sushi, with the exception of nigiri and sashimi. When creating a sushi roll, we use nori as the base to place our rice, on one side, while the ingredients are placed on the other side.

Finally, there are many different sauces that we use in our sushi and everyone has at least one favorite. We use traditional soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, acevichado (a Peruvian-style aioli), eel sauce, and spicy aioli, all of which have been specially selected by our team.

Now onto my favorite part, pairing our sushi with a fantastic wine or our traditional sake!

Our Buddha and Paradise rolls are lighter fare but contain bold, rich ingredients that present a slight sweetness when enjoyed. I would pair these rolls with either an unoaked Chardonnay, one of our sparkling wines, or Sho Chiku Bai Mio Sparkling sake.

Our Sensei roll is a favorite, producing a hint of heat balanced by the cream cheese. I highly recommend pairing this roll with our Anna Cordorniu Brut Rosé or Mizubasho Ginjo sake.

The Cobra roll is very unique between the meatiness of the crab, the contrasting sweet characteristics, and the spicy sauces. You can easily pair this roll with a semi-dry white or rosé wine or Mizubasho Ginjo sake. Our Terra D’oro Chenin Blanc Viognier would pair nicely with this roll as well.

These next two are our most complex in terms of ingredients and flavor profiles, and arguably two of our most popular rolls. Each with contrasting sauces, meaty seafood, and a fried component, our Fire and Miyagi rolls tend to pair best with a light-bodied red such as our Elk Cove Pinot Noir. Hakutsuru Saruyi Junmai Nigori is also a great choice for a sake option.

So, the next time you crave fresh, hand-rolled sushi for dinner, consider taking Tyler’s advice! Elevate your experience by choosing the perfect bottle of wine or sake to pair with your sushi from NAPA Kitchen and Wine. Cheers to the perfect union of sushi, sake, and wine!

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