Pairing Japanese Cuisine with Wine

Today we have Kenichi Ohashi, sake and wine consultant for Red Bridge Wine Company, a producer, purveyor and exporter of premium high quality New Zealand red and white wines, specialising in the Asian market. He is also a Master of Sake and holder of the WSET diploma. In the Q&A below, he offers us his exclusive wine pairing suggestions for three signature cuisine dishes from his native Japan.

1) Chicken Yakitori

Suggested Wine Style & Grape Variety
Still red, Grenache-dominant
Suggested Wine Regions France, Rhône Valley, Vacqueyras, Ventoux, Côtes du Rhône, etc.
Suggested Wine Producers & Wines

Domaine du Fondreche “Fayard” from Côtes du Ventoux in France

Comments on pairing It depends on how the yakitori is cooked- with only salt, which is popular in Japan, or in a traditional sweet soy sauce. In this case, I am suggesting for the latter. Traditional Grenache-dominant Southern Rhône wines show an oxidative handling-oriented savoriness with a touch of sweetness from the ripeness level. Yakitori sauce is just about the same. Such a beautiful affinity together!
Best Places for Chicken Yakitori
Hachibei, 7-4-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

2) Sushi/Sashimi

Suggested Wine Style & Grape Variety
Still red, Blaufrankisch
Suggested Wine Regions Austria, Burgenland
Suggested Wine Producers & Wines

Weingut Moric Blaufränkisch from Burgenland in Germany

Comments on pairing This is depends on the type of ingredients used. In the most popular case of toro/akami (tuna), there is a ferruginous flavour- a metallic touch. Blaufrankisch’s focused palate from its acidity pairs well with this. Also, its lightness goes well with the light food.
Best Places for Sushi and Sashimi
Kikuchi, 20-15 Shinsencho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan

3) Tempura

Suggested Wine Style & Grape Variety
Still white, Sauvignon Blanc
Suggested Wine Regions New Zealand, Hawkes Bay, Marlborough
Suggested Wine Producers & Wines

Kidnapper Cliffs “Solan” from Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand, Dog Point Selection 94 from Wairau Valley in New Zealand

Comments on pairing Toasty oak-handled wines pair well with tempura, but the key is gentle use of it, so as to not overwhelm the taste of the ingredients. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has a purity of flavor, therefore complementing both shrimps and vegetables. If the tempura is fish, a clear oaken Chardonnay produced in cool climates such as Mayer from Yarra Valley or Guy Roulot from Meursault would go wonderfully.
Best Places for Tempura
Tenshin, 2-3-10 Hirakawacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan