Can You Pair Wine with Sushi?

When you think of sushi, you may not always think of wine as the natural pairing. Yet, it can work amazingly well – if you know what you’re doing. It is a tricky match to get right, as sushi, like all Asian food, is more challenging to pair with wine – essentially a European invention – because Japanese cuisine has evolved alongside grain-based drinks like beer and sake, not wine. But this doesn’t mean that sushi and wine can’t exist well together. Ideal Wine Company loves this combination and we have everything you need to know to make this pairing perfect. Let’s have a look at how we match wine and sushi…

Ideal Wine Company sushi and wine
Let’s have a look at how we match wine and sushi…

What qualities should you look out for?

Sushi works well with certain varieties of wine – so you need to be looking out for these. Essentially, the standard rule is that the wine can’t be too dry, as it will clash with the fish. Similarly, the wine can’t be too sweet – think of the wine that is usually paired with Chinese or Thai food – as this swamps the fine delicacy of the fish.

When pairing wine and sushi, you should be striving for a good balance between sweet and dry. A fine balance, integrity, good fruit and crisp acidities are all desirable qualities to look for in your wine. As a general rule, Rieslings of Germany and Alsace, and their New World counterparts make splendid companions for sushi.

Our favourite pairings

  • Salmon roll – dry rosé

A salmon roll usually consists of cucumber, avocado and salmon rolled in rice and coated in seaweed. With these flavour combinations, you can expect fresh and light flavours. This means that it works well with a dry rosé.  The salmon makes the tart cherry and citrus in the wine pop and its minerality turn to sweet brininess.

  • Spicy tuna roll – Riesling

A spicy tuna roll can pack a punch! Filled with spice, this tuna and rice roll offers plenty of flavour and heat, meaning your wine needs to be able to handle this. Our top pick for this is a very barely off-dry Riesling. As you need a big-bodied white for the meaty fish, this wine can handle everything. Riesling is mouth-filling, with sweet stone fruit to stand up to the spice and a mineral edge that loves the brininess of nori.

  • Prawn nigiri – Pinot Gris

A prawn nigiri is a simple offering. It is essentially a prawn placed over pressed vinegared rice. When thinking of a pairing for this dish, you’ll need to make the prawn your focus. We suggest choosing a Pinot Gris. The apple and aromatic stone fruit in the wine are perfect links to sweet prawns, with a hit of citrus serving as a spritz of lemon. It’s a perfect match!

While it may not be the obvious option, pairing your sushi with wine can prove to be very delicious! While it may be a slightly harder match, the results can pay off big time. Why not try wine with your next sushi meal?

What Wine Should You Serve at Easter Lunch?

With Easter coming up soon – this year it falls on Sunday 1 April – it’s time to get ready for your Easter lunch. This is the perfect time to gather your friends and family to celebrate Easter and Spring. Whether you opt for a classic lamb dish or a fresh green salad, we’re here to give you the perfect pour. Here are some of Ideal Wine Company’s favourite wines to serve at Easter lunch.

Ideal Wine Company Easter
With Easter coming up soon it’s time to get your favourite wine ready for your Easter lunch.

Lamb – Cabernet Sauvignon

For spring and Easter, the quintessential dish has to be lamb. Coming into season at this time, it’s a popular dish that you can expect to see on many tables. As lamb is a strong meat in flavour, you’ll need to look for a wine that can match it. For this, a Cabernet Sauvignon is your best bet. With this wine, you can expect a tannic, full-bodied red that can stand up to the strength of lamb. The richness and texture of the meat will be complemented by the ripe plum and earthy flavours with hints of chocolate. A great choice to break out this Easter!

Glazed Ham – Pinot Noir

A glazed ham is synonymous with sweet and sour flavours. The saltiness of the ham is usually in perfect balance with the sweetness of the glaze. When it comes to pairing your wine with this, you’ll want to make sure you’re not interrupting this relationship. Try opting for a Pinot Noir, which should help to provide the perfect stability you’re looking for. This wine’s low tannins and high acidity is the perfect complement to the ham. With cherry fruit flavours and a little spice on the palate, a Pinot Noir continues the harmony between sweet and sour.

Fresh green salad – Assyrtiko

With spring finally upon us, it’s time to bring together all the amazing fresh produce we can get our hands on. This means greens – and what better way to showcase them than with a fresh green salad. Combining the freshest green vegetables on offer with a light lemon vinaigrette, this is an ideal dish for Easter lunch. To bring out the freshness of the salad, the best accompaniment is Assyrtiko, a white wine from Greece. This light and crisp wine offers bright flavours, bracing acidity and an elegant mineral character. A truly refreshing choice.

Lemon tart – Muscat

No celebratory lunch is complete without pudding! For Easter, a lemon tart is the perfect option. Combining sweetness, slight tartness and a light finish, this dessert brings out the flavours of the season. When pairing wine with this tart, look for a Muscat. With fruit flavours including citrus, lime, kumquats, confit of orange zest and green pineapple, it is a refreshing burst of flavour. The richness on the palate, with its vibrant acidity, will lift and support the lemon creaminess. It’s the perfect way to end your meal.

Easter is all about light spring dishes. Make sure to keep all your flavours balanced with each other and remember that refreshing options are usually your best choices. With your perfect pour in hand – it’s time to celebrate Easter!

The Perfect Wine for Toasting Your Fabulous Mum This Mother’s Day!

We don’t need an excuse to celebrate mums, but this Mother’s Day brings the perfect opportunity to make them feel special. Ideal Wine Company have some great recommendations for choosing the perfect bottle of wine for your mother, something for every taste!

Ideal Wine Company Mother's Day wine
Here are our recommendations for choosing the perfect bottle of wine for your mother!

Shiraz – for the mums who love bold flavours

If your mum loves big flavours, there’s no better option than a Shiraz. This big and brooding red wine is known for its powerful black fruit flavours, savoury undertones and high ABV. This wine isn’t for the faint-hearted but is the perfect warming drink for this Mother’s Day.

Merlot – for mums who like a fruity wine

For a smooth, lush and less aggressive wine choice, Merlot is a safe and reliable choice. With upfront fruit flavours, moderate tannin and balanced acidity, this wine works for any occasion. You can expect to be met with flavours of black cherry, plum, chocolate, dried herbs and cedar, all coming together for a truly delicious sip. Merlot is the perfect crowd pleaser that’s sure to go down well.

Sémillon – perfect for mums who like a honeyed finish

If you’re looking for a full-bodied white wine this Mother’s Day, look no further than a nice bottle of Sémillon. This Bordeaux-borne grape is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc, giving an otherwise lush, mouth-filling wine a welcome hint of zippiness. The light and zingy notes elevate the notes to bring a refreshing finish – perfect for the beginning of spring! Try looking for a variety with some age or oak on it, as this gave give some truly delicious notes of honey, almond, and an unctuous texture.

Saignée – for mums who love rosé – with a twist

Saignée is like no other rosé. Considered a by-product of red winemaking, this unique style of wine us often darker and bolder in colour than any other rosé. You’ll find this wine ranging in shade from deep pink to light purple, with bold and fruity aromas. Key flavours you can expect to find include sweet raspberry and cherry, leading into savoury notes of white pepper and bacon. If your mum is looking to branch out from the usual rosé, this is certainly one to try!

Prosecco – for celebrating mums in style

When it comes down to it, there’s no better way to celebrate than with a glass of bubbly. This Mother’s Day, why not break out the Prosecco to toast to your mum? This dependable Italian fizz is perfect for a variety of events and is sure to go down a treat. Most Prosecco is classified as extra dry, meaning you can expect medium acidity, sherbet sweetness and a floral freshness in each sip. With soft bubbles, serve your Prosecco ice cold and in tulip-shaped glasses – the perfect receptacle to appreciate those delicate white flower aromas!

This Mother’s Day, there are plenty of wines to choose from. Whether your mum is a fan of white, red, rosé or something sparkling, there’s something for every mum.

Understanding Wine Vintages and Why They Matter to You

Wine can be dramatically affected by its vintage. The same grapes from the same vineyard take on distinctively different characteristics depending on the year they were harvested. We all know we should try good vintages to maximise our tasting experience, but first, we need to know what we’re looking for. Ideal Wine Company is this week breaking down how vintages can change wine and what to seek to get the best out of the experience.

Ideal Wine Company wine vintage
We’re breaking down how vintages can change wine and what to seek to get the best out of the experience.

What is a wine vintage?

First of all, the vintage of wine is the year it was produced in. When the grape was grown and harvested leads to many changes in flavours. The taste and quality can be affected, primarily because of the different weather. These conditions alter the vines and how they are growing throughout the year. The vintage date is found on the bottle, label or even cork.

The defining feature of a vintage is sunshine. If the year has seen plenty of sunny weather, the grapes are given the best chance to reach full maturity and optimum ripeness levels. However, too much heat, defined as too many days above 33 ºC, and the grapes will dry out which can lead to bitter tannins in your wine. If the year is particularly rainy or cloudy, the grapes do not fully ripen. This makes them prone to rot and disease, delivering lower quality grapes.

Wines without a vintage date are usually made by blending multiple years together. If you opt for a non-vintage wine, you’ll usually find more consistency. They are typically a house style wine that is good value but does not offer unique distinctions from year to year.

Signs to look out for

You can determine how good the vintage will be by looking out for signs in the weather. Each season has key features that can change how your wine tastes.

  • Spring: Look out for early snow and hail-storms, as these can break off flowers and buds. This could potentially reduce the crops by 100%. A sunny spring is perfect for growing wine -and drinking it!
  • Summer: For both us and grapes, rain in summer can put a dampener on things! Wet weather during the simmer can cause disease which ruin grapes. In addition, droughts and exceptionally hot weather can cause vines to pause their growth. A mild but sunny summer are the ideal conditions for a good vintage.
  • Autumn: Harvest time is the most important season for grapes. Bad weather in this period can greatly reduce the quality of the vintage. Rain can cause grapes to swell, which means they can either lose concentration or even rot. Cold weather will stop the grapes from ripening.

When vintage should matter

The wine vintage will play the biggest role in regions where the climate is very variable. If you’re buying a bottle from northern Europe, such as France, Germany or Northern Italy, you should be paying attention to the vintage.

If your wine is from a predictable climate, such as Portugal, Argentina, Australia, California and Southern Italy, you’ll see more consistency year-on-year. This makes vintage less important.

Knowing the vintage of your wine can be important, but may not be your biggest concern. If you’re buying a wine from a region where there is a lot of difference between vintages, however, it is one of the most crucial factors you should know before you buy. A little bit of research here can go a long way!

Find your perfect burger wine pairing!

Burgers are so versatile, making them one of the most popular meals for many of us and because they are so versatile there are so many wines to be matched with them. This week, Ideal Wine Company brings you the ultimate guide to the perfect wines to pair with your burger…

Ideal Wine Company Wine and Burger
Ideal Wine Company bring you the ultimate guide to the perfect wines to pair with your burger…

For a classic burger – balance sweet and bitter

Most of us are familiar with the classic burger, with meat, lettuce, tomato and onion, it’s a universal favourite. The best wine to pair with a classic burger is one that has an element of bitter and sweet, to create the perfect balance.

For this, we recommend trying a Grenache. This red wine pairs perfectly with grilled meat and suitably showcases the beef of the burger. The berry-flavour and spice of the wine create a great balance between bitterness and sweetness that rounds out the flavour and is soft on the palate.

Take your cheeseburger – focus on tannins and savoury notes

Similar to the classic burger, but with cheese, bringing tang and creaminess to your meal. When looking for a wine to pair with this, the level of tannin is a key element. This acts as a palate cleanser and lightens the heaviness of the cheese. As well, cheeseburgers tend to work well with savoury notes, as this will help to prevent the creaminess of the cheese from becoming overwhelming.

Cheeseburgers are perfect with Cabernet. The good levels of tannins in the wine refresh the palate and keep the flavours harmonious. The flavours of tomato, roasted pepper, blackcurrant and dried leather are savoury enough and better complement the cheese and ground beef combination. A perfectly balanced experience!

If a barbecue bacon cheeseburger is your favourite – look for dark fruits and spice

There’s a lot of flavour in a barbecue bacon cheeseburger. Although there is a lot of intensity loaded into each bite, a good rule to follow is to focus on the sauce. With barbecue, you’ll want dark fruit and some spice.

For this, there’s no better option than a Syrah. The smoky, earthy red works well to bring together the flavours of the burger. It really showcases the sweetness and spiciness of barbecue sauce and creates a good balance between the two strong flavours.

Bite into a mushroom Swiss burger – with something nutty and sweet

This vegetarian option is made up from grilled mushroom and a slice of nutty and buttery swiss cheese. The earthy flavours of these two key ingredients need to be matched by an earthy sweetness to round out the flavours and lighten the dish.

For this, try opting for a Merlot. The fruitiness of the wine is inherently sweeter, which is perfect for pairing with earthy flavours. With aromas of black cherry, berries, plum, chocolate and some herbs, as well as soft characteristics, a Merlot won’t overpower the subtle flavours of mushroom and swiss cheese.

When it comes to burgers, there are plenty more to choose from. A good final tip is to stick to red wines when the meat is beef and consider the sauce on the burger when looking for the perfect pair. White’s work well with white meat and you can pair both white and red well with vegetarian burgers.