What To Drink With Sushi? Sake, Beer or Wine?

Sushi is a traditional dish and also a characteristic of Japan. Moreover, sushi has crossed the border of Japan to become a favorite dish in many countries. If you are a foodie, here are some suggestions for what to drink with sushi for you.  

1. What is sushi?

what to drink with sushi
What is sushi? (Source: Internet)

In general, Japanese food that combines rice (vinegared rice) and neta (mainly seafood) is called sushi. In addition to fresh seafood, it is not uncommon for ingredients such as meat, vegetables, and eggs to be used as toppings. The major types of sushi are as follows.

  • Nigiri sushi
  • Maki sushi
  • Oshi sushi
  • Chirashi sushi
  • Uramaki sushi 
  • Inari sushi 
  • Eemaki sushi 
  • Gunkan

The birthplace of sushi is not Japan, but Southeast Asia. Sushi is said to have originated from a fermented food called “narezushi”, which was invented by the people who lived in mountainous areas at the time as a way to preserve fish that was difficult to obtain for a long period. In Japan, narezushi was presented to the Imperial Court as a tribute during the Nara period.

2. What to Drink with Sushi?

what to drink with sushi
What to Drink with Sushi? (Source: Internet)

According to a survey by IT media with more than 8,000 Japanese people with the question “What to drink when eating sushi”, green tea is the highest choice with 72.3%, followed by other teas (28.4%), beer (28.0%), sake (13.0%), Schochu (8.0%).

Did you know that green tea that you drink casually plays an indispensable supporting role in sushi? Just like gari (ginger eaten with sushi), the catechins contained in green tea are known to prevent food poisoning from raw fish due to their antibacterial properties. That’s right.

At first glance, sushi that uses fish filets looks like a light and healthy food, but there are many fish that are full of fat, and the fat and smell of the fish left in your mouth can spoil the taste of the next sushi. It seems that there is. Green tea refreshes your mouth. Not just any kind of green tea is good, but a strong, hot green tea that can wash away the fat and smell is perfect. Therefore, when you go to a sushi restaurant, green tea is served in a large and thick teacup that feels a little heavy to hold. Its shape helps to hold it firmly in your hand even when it is hot.

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3. Sushi’s health benefits

Sushi – Japanese food is popular not only for its delicious taste but also for its many health benefits. 

  • Improve your skin

Sushi is often made with ingredients that contain antioxidants that slow cell aging and damage. Help to preserve youthful, vibrant skin.

  • Keep your brain active

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fish, have been shown to have positive effects on brain function, such as increasing concentration and improving cognitive performance. It also has the effect of lowering elevated cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure.

  • Muscles restoring

Sushi can also be used to restore tired muscles. Adequate protein intake has been shown to significantly accelerate muscle repair.

  • Osteoporosis prevention

Calcium is important to prevent osteoporosis and keep bones healthy. Increase your intake of sushi.

  • Immunity boost

Sushi contains a lot of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients necessary to boost immunity, such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. 

  • Suppress cravings for sweets

Eating protein to balance your blood sugar levels stabilizes your energy levels, which can help curb cravings for sweets, especially sugar.

4. Recommended Drinks to Pair with Sushi 

Japanese beers

A Japanese beer mixes rather well with sushi flavors, whereas regular, hefty lagers and IPA beers often don’t.

Japanese beers tend to be sweeter and lighter than American beers. Japanese beer pairs nicely with a variety of sushi dishes, such as maki sushi, temaki, and some deep-fried specials because of its effervescent, crisp nature.


Fermented rice wine known as sake is a staple of Japanese culture.

Sake has a light zesty flavor that suits the tasty, crisp sushi roll well.


It’s better to base the flavor of the fish to guide you when choosing what to serve with sushi.

Although you can choose any wine, try to stay away from red wines. Enjoy a glass of white or rosé wine instead. Most fish flavors combine well with lighter wines since they are fresh, acidic, and just a little bit sweet.


Another excellent beverage to pair with sushi is champagne because it is delightful, sparkling, light, and crisp. 

The sharp flavor of the champagne adds a pleasant ending while balancing out the complex aromas and heavy oils found in sushi. So never rule out champagne when deciding what to drink with sushi!

Nonalcoholic beverages

Sushi goes well with a variety of delectable non-alcoholic beverages. 

If you don’t like alcoholic beverages, you should give ginger ale, iced tea, or a mild fruity soda a try.


Sushi is a food that goes nicely with anything acidic since it is packed with protein, and heavy in fats, oils, and fresh flavors.

5. Wine selection tip to drink with sushi – “matching colors”

which wine to drink with sushi
Wine selection tip to drink with sushi (Source: Internet)

People tend to think that wine and raw fish don’t go well together, or that they might smell fishy when paired with wine.

However, wine goes well with dishes that use raw fish.

So, if you know how to choose, there is no doubt that wine and sushi will be a great duo.

White wine for white meat

Fresh white wine goes well with fresh white sushi such as flounder and sea bream. White wine with a delicate sweetness is recommended for slightly sweet white sushi such as scallops and squid.

Red wine for red meat

For red meat sushi such as tuna and bonito, red wine with low tannin and fresh taste is recommended.

If you mix red meat with white wine, the fishy smell will stand out, but red wine goes well with the flavor of the red meat.

Rose wine for pink color sushi

Sushi with pink ingredients such as salmon, octopus, and blood clams goes well with a refreshing dry rosé wine. It would be good to choose a full-bodied rosé wine for sushi with a sweetness like shrimp.

Match the seasoning

When eating soy sauce, it is recommended to pair it with red wine. However, dark red wines will overwhelm the original flavor of the ingredients, so try to choose red wines such as Pinot Noir, Muscat Bailey A, and Gamay, which are light and have little tannin.

White wine goes well when you eat sushi with white meat or shellfish with salt. If you choose a mildly sweet Riesling or Pinot Grigio wine, it goes well with sweet sushi such as scallops and sweet shrimp.

Red wine is recommended for sushi seasoned with sauce such as eel and Japanese conger eel. The sauce has a stronger flavor than soy sauce, so fruity red wines of Pinot Noir or Merlot go well with it.

Sour white wine is recommended for sushi that is eaten with lemon, such as squid, flounder, red sea bream, and amberjack.

When hesitating, choose a sparkling wine

Some wines go well with sushi, some do not. Therefore, if you want to eat not only one type of sushi but many types of sushi, you may be wondering which wine to choose.

In such a case, you can’t go wrong with sparkling wine that goes well with any dish. Sparkling wine goes well with various types of sushi that don’t go well with other wines.

You can enjoy the well-balanced taste of sparkling wine with sourness and bubbles, so if you can’t decide which wine to go with sushi, try sparkling wine.

6. Why do the professors not appropriate sake with sushi?  

The reason why Japanese people do not choose to combine sake with sushi?

First of all, Japanese sake is brewed from rice, sake production is similar to brewing, when combining it with sushi is just adding rice on top of the rice. Speaking of food and drink combinations, it’s important to remember that drinks are essentially a palate cleanser, to wipe clean and prepare for the next bite, allowing us to enjoy more food.

Second, sake structure also plays a part. It has a lower alcohol content than most spirits, rarely exceeding 20% ABV. It also means that sake is usually always less acidic. When combined with the high-acid vinegar of sushi rice, it will not accentuate the flavor, but on the contrary, can overwhelm the particularly delicate fresh fish taste. The concentration and texture of many types of sake will detract from the delicate flavor of the sushi.

However, if you are a lover of Japanese sake and sushi then a simple, unsweetened sake will be better. Junmai or Junmai Ginjo goes well with most types of sushi.

7. How to eat sushi perfectly like the Japanese?

Eat sushi from the outside in, from light to dark.

This is a rule that helps to keep politeness as well as the aesthetics of the dish. Dark meats often have a strong flavor, so leave them last to avoid affecting the flavor of lighter dishes in the serving.

Use chopsticks or hands to eat sushi (Source: Internet)

To eat sushi, the Japanese have 2 ways to eat it: using hands and using chopsticks:

  • Eat sushi with chopsticks

You should flip the sushi to the side to grab both the rice and the food at the same time along the sushi piece.

  • Eat sushi with your hands

This way of eating will be easier than picking up sushi with chopsticks, but there are also a few small notes such as:

For sushi with fish or shrimp, you should use your thumb and middle finger to hold, and your index finger to rest on the body of the sushi piece to hold.

When eating, let the fish or shrimp touch the tip of the tongue first. This way of eating helps stimulate the taste buds at the tip of your tongue so that you can fully feel the taste of that dish.

  • Dip the fish in the sauce

Flip the sushi over and dip the fish into the sauce. This way, you will both retain the flavor without being fishy.

Do not put mustard together with soy sauce, but put mustard on sushi and then dip in soy sauce

  • Eat sushi in 1 bite

Pieces of sushi need to be eaten in one bite to create a sense of harmony and full flavor. You should not take a bite and then put it back on the plate because it will be rude.

  • Eat pickled ginger before switching to another type of sushi

Gari is thinly sliced ginger soaked in sweet vinegar. After each different type of sushi, you should eat a slice of ginger so that the sushi does not mix flavors.

  • Eat Miso soup at the end of the meal

Miso soup is used by the Japanese at the end of a Sushi meal to reduce the fishy smell.

8. FAQs

Q: What is the name of tea in sushi restaurants?

At a sushi restaurant, “agari” refers to tea. Agari is an abbreviation of “Agaribana”, a word originally used in the red-light districts of the Edo period. The origin of this comes from the fact that geisha were made to grind tea with a tea mill when there were no customers. 

Q: Why does tea in sushi restaurants taste well?

The tea served at the sushi restaurant is powdered tea.

Powdered tea (Konacha) is made by collecting only the powder selected by a sieve in the manufacturing process of sencha (green tea) and gyokuro (Premium Japanese green tea).

Unlike sencha, it cannot be enjoyed over and over again, but the first infusion produces a very rich tea. The aftertaste is refreshing, so it is recommended after eating sushi.

Konacha is cheaper than regular green tea, but the quality is not inferior to Sencha.

Q: Is it okay to eat sushi and drink coffee?

Yes! Sushi can pair well with black tea or coffee. 

Although at first glance coffee and sushi might seem like an unusual combination, the two have been paired for a long time. 

Sushi is mentioned for the first time in Japanese folklore and legends. It was regarded as a meal and a daily food. To clean the stomach and palates and savor the flavor of the fish back then, folks would often take a cup of coffee along with their sushi.

Many people still enjoy coffee and sushi together today all across the world. The fundamental idea hasn’t changed over time, even though the combinations might alter.  

Q: When you shouldn’t eat sushi?

A person with a compromised immune system should minimize or completely avoid eating sushi. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone with illnesses that compromise their immune systems should avoid eating sushi. 

9. Conclusion

Sushi is a favorite dish not only in Japan but also all over the world. So choose a drink that suits sushi and your taste for the best experience!

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