6 of the best drink pairings for sushi

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 28: Sushi samples prepared at the Suzumo booth are served at the 2023 Bar & Restaurant Expo and World Tea Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center on March 28, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Nightclub & Bar Media Group)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 28: Sushi samples prepared at the Suzumo booth are served at the 2023 Bar & Restaurant Expo and World Tea Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center on March 28, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Nightclub & Bar Media Group) /

What dish is more versatile than sushi? It has several health benefits and tastes great — and there’s a roll out there to suit everyone’s needs. Whether you like cooked or raw sushi, veggie rolls or imitation seafood, you’ll find something to treat yourself to. Around 50% of Americans eat Japanese food regularly — meaning even more people sample sushi than you might’ve thought. Since sushi is so popular, you should know what to drink with sushi to make the most of its savory flavors.

You have a few different routes to choose from. If you want to opt for a traditional drink with sushi, just look at what the folks in Japan drink with their meals. Alternatively, you can choose something outside the box, yet still a delicious option that makes for a wonderful pairing. There are plenty of drinks to turn to if you want an explosion of flavor with your dinner — you just have to choose the one that fits you best.

The best traditional drinks with Sushi

If you want your meal to feel authentic, opting for a traditional drink with sushi is the way to go. These beverages are commonly consumed with the meal in Japan, and for a good reason — they pair perfectly with just about any roll. Next time you have the opportunity, sample one of these drinks with your favorite sushi roll.

1. Light Japanese Beer

In Japan, around 20% of people drink beer every week. It’s an accessible drink that almost anyone can find — and you may not necessarily need to indulge in a Japanese beer if you have other kinds readily available. If you want to drink beer with your sushi, make sure it’s light. Lighter beers have a more delicate taste, with hints of floral or grain. The best option might be Sapporo, which is a good example of a light beer without an overpowering flavor.

2. Koshu Wine

This wine is created from Koshu grapes, and the drink itself has a light citrus aroma. If you’ve never had it before, you should know that it feels clean and fresh — something like a European white wine. It has low acidity, which might seem unusual for a drink to pair with sushi, which can be so high in fat — but it’s actually a flavorful pairing that complements every flavor.

3. Konacha Tea

Made from sencha leaves, this tea is often served at sushi restaurants due to its bitter taste. Its flavor profile allows it to pair well with fish, making it an award-winning option for just about every roll that features seafood. Its palate-cleansing properties make it a fantastic traditional drink with sushi, as it allows you to essentially “start over” with every roll and go in with fresh tastebuds.

Brewing Konacha is a delicate task, as you need to boil it for only around 30 seconds to get the flavor profile you want with none of the bitterness. It can be tricky to make on your own, but learning the correct balance for the perfect taste doesn’t take long. You might have even tried it before at a restaurant without knowing it — sometimes, it’s listed under the name “agari.”

Other Drinks That Pair With Sushi

If you don’t want a traditional drink with sushi, the next best option is to find a drink that compliments the savory flavors of every roll you plan to try. Try a lighter or drier drink that doesn’t have as heavy an aroma or flavor if your sushi has multiple powerful ingredients to enjoy.

Of course, there may be more drinks than just these few that pair with a specific kind of sushi. For example, Stop & Shop has created a Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Roll, a sushi roll with sustainably sourced ingredients and Cheetos-encrusted rice. Since its inception in 2021, other creative sushi rolls have come out. Ultimately, the drink that pairs best with these unique creations is up to your discretion — and you may want to ask the staff, just in case.

1. Sake

Sake is another Japanese drink, but traditionally, it isn’t paired with sushi. That might be because rice is a staple in sashimi, while rice protein is used to create sake, so they’re made of the same compounds.

However, if you like that rich, savory taste present in rice, cheese and seafood, you’ll love how sake can amplify the umami flavor. However, the best sake for sushi is chilled, never warm. Try it out — you might realize you were sleeping on a winning combination that’s positively unmatched.

2. Riesling

Riesling is the perfect option for lighter cuts of fish, like salmon. It typically features a hint of fruity flavors, like apple, peach and pear. However, the dry Rieslings have a more robust taste of apple and grapefruit. Since drier alcohols have more herbs and spices that tone down the sweetness, you’ll enjoy more of the flavors of the sashimi.

People with hypothyroidism might often be told to eat more fish and seaweed to improve their health, thanks to the iodine in both. A dry Riesling also pairs well with seaweed-heavy plates, which could give you the dose of iodine you need to avoid brain fog while also pairing a great drink with an even better dish. Since Riesling is also delicious with the indulgent flavors of seaweed salad, it’s worth adding to your table.

3. Prosecco

Both cheaper and sweeter than champagne, Prosecco is a great option for anyone who wants to have a deliciously extravagant dinner without breaking the bank. 2022 was an overwhelmingly successful year for Prosecco. With over 638 million bottles sold, it’s become a popular drink enjoyed by many — and it could go perfectly with your sushi. This fruity drink goes great with savory foods and can work as a palate cleanser, making it the perfect option as you alternate between rolls.

Knowing What to Drink With Sushi Improves the Experience

You haven’t lived until you’ve tried sushi with a proper beverage. Having a traditional drink with sushi can elevate your experience and get you to appreciate new flavor combinations you might not have thought of before. Not every drink will resonate with you. Still, you have to find something that works with your tastebuds. You might embark on a journey to find the best sake for sushi or the most flavorful beer for veggie rolls — but as long as you learn to savor every flavor on your path to the most delicious drink, you’ll enjoy every moment.

dark. Next. Stop & Shop takes their sushi to the next level with the help of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos