Sushi It and Halloween Drinks

By / Magazine / October 28th, 2013 / 3

I love sushi but can’t seem to find a wine that doesn’t overpower its subtleties. Any suggestions?

So not a big sake fan, I’m betting? If so, I know from where you come. It took even me some time to get into the rice-makes-nice vibe of Japan’s national liquid obsession. I mean, cheaper versions taste like sucking on your finger. All fleshy and forgettable. The good stuff, though, is quite a mind-bending alternative to grape-based hedonism whether you like the stuff hot or cold. (I prefer the cheaper versions warm and their premium cousins ever-so-slightly chilled.)

If the last paragraph sounded, well, like Japanese to your sake-unsure ears, grab a beer. The subtle flavours of a sushi menu (and especially one that incorporates elements of sashimi) are extremely beer-friendly. Japan has its big brew brands (Asahi, Kirin and of course, Sapporo), but any crisp, refreshing, subtly sweeter lager is an ideal match with sushi. 

Yet you need wine.

You have to love the average sushi joint and its wine list. I don’t think they have a clue when it comes to choosing their selection. It’s like their sommelier philosophy is “let’s just pick a few popular wines and keep our chopsticks crossed.”

Just ask the server at your favourite sushi resto about which wine matches best with your food choices. They won’t be able to get away from your table fast enough.

To be fair, they’re offering a menu that combines a wide variety of flavours: everything from nori seaweed wraps to wasabi on the side. That makes a wine choice about as easy as one for Christmas dinner.

No matter your usual preference, I would go white. An off-dry Riesling, or crisp, lean Pinot Grigio are pretty much ideal. You can step into the experimental zone with an Austrian Grüner Veltliner: a hip mix of dryness and green fruit.

Wasabi fans may appreciate the grassy-meets-gooseberry of your average Sauvignon Blanc. Good for them; it’s not my thing.

When it comes to sushi, red wine is either for sipping while the chef does his business or after you’ve stuck that last tasty morsel in your mouth.

If you have to go red, keep things simple. Reach for a Pinot Noir with a low price tag. The last thing you want to do is steamroll the freshness of sushi with an overload of tannins and thick fruit.

Any thoughts on a beverage to sip on this Halloween?

Halloween just ain’t fair. You get maybe ten good years of trick-or-treating pleasure as a kid, and then you’ve got to spend the rest of your days answering the door and giving away more than you ever got.

I’ve always tried to make up for the timeline deficit by enjoying a relaxing tipple or two during the carnage while Mrs Bon Vivant attends to front-door duty. (She still finds the magic in handing out candy.)

Is there a perfect seasonal beverage? Well, you can mix it up if you’re so inclined. You don’t have to be a bartender to put together a Bloody Mary or Bloody Caesar (just Google them if you need the recipes.) They’re both simple to resurrect.

You can ghoul up your Bloody with a seasonal-oriented spirit from the vodka family. Crystal Head — the brainchild of Ghostbuster Dan Aykroyd — comes wrapped in a glass skull and is filtered through diamonds in Newfoundland. If that’s not scary enough for you, Blavod vodka is black. Things always drink better when they’re black.

If being your own bartender is too macabre, try some brew. England’s Wychwood Brewery has a nasty (in name only) array of beers, led by Hobgoblin — its flagship ale.


Fresh, funny and down-to-earth, Peter Rockwell is the everyman's wine writer. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia he's worked in the liquor industry for over 30 years and has written about wine, spirits & beer since graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of King's College in 1986. His reviews and feature articles have been published in Tidings, Vines, Occasions, Where and on to name a few; he has been a weekly on-air wine feature columnist for both CBC-TV and Global Television and his wine column 'Liquid Assets' appeared weekly in two of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, 'The Halifax Daily News' and 'The Cape Breton Post.' Today Peter's irreverent answer man column 'Bon Vivant' appears each month in Tidings Magazine and his weekly 'Liquid Assets' column is published across Canada in editions of the METRO newspaper. When not drinking at home, and at work, Peter travels the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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