The Science Behind Sushi and Champagne Pairings

13th June 2024

Champagne et cuisine japonaise : maki, gingembre

Champagne and sushi are, surprisingly to some, an excellent combination. With International Sushi Day being celebrated on Tuesday, June 18, the Champagne Bureau UK* has put together a guide on the science behind the best sushi and Champagne pairings.

From lobster and oysters to the classic smoked salmon blini, seafood and Champagne has long been a go-to pairing. The success of seafood and sushi pairings has now been recognised as a chemical phenomenon – the official seal of approval needed to enjoy sushi and Champagne together at any opportunity – Umami.

Umami is the characteristic savoury taste that you find in seafood, shitake mushrooms, soy sauce and fermented foods. First discovered in Japan in 1908, umami is a flavour enhancer – particularly enhancing flavours of saltiness and sweetness. Umami flavours are present in sushi in abundance from the Nori seaweed wrap and fresh seafood filling to the soy sauce accompaniment. Similarly, umami flavours can be found in Champagne. The levels of umami in Champagne are not evident on their own, however, when consumed with umami rich foods an ‘umami synergy’ occurs – making the pairing particularly enticing.


Champagne Blanc de Blancs

Vegetarian sushi with nori aubergine, cucumber or avocado and oyster mushrooms is a dish that encapsulates a whole host of umami flavours and is a great accompaniment to a Champagne Blanc de Blancs. Made entirely from white grapes, Blanc de Blanc is a bright and refreshing style that is all about finesse. With notes of white flowers as well as citrus and exotic fruits, these Champagnes complement the lighter vegetarian sushi variations as well as enhance the umami flavours.


Rosé Champagne

For sushi that is richer in flavour or includes spicy elements, opt for a Rosé Champagne. With its pinkish hue, Rosé Champagne is most often obtained by blending white and red grapes and offers lively fruit aromas. This gives it a vibrant body that blends perfectly with delicious sushi variations such as a spicy crab roll or those that include wasabi.



Non-vintage Champagne Brut

Alternatively, a non-vintage Champagne Brut is distinctly crisp with light fruit flavours and floral hints. As such, this is a Champagne for all occasions and dishes, and will pair well with a wide range of sushi flavours allowing the freshness of the seafood to shine.  A Champagne Brut refers to a Champagne that has less than three grams of sugar per litre and no extra sugar added. We would opt for delicate sushi variations, such as sashimi or maki rolls with white fish as to not overwhelm the taste of the Champagne.


*The Champagne Bureau UK is the representation of the Comité Champagne in the UK, a trade association representing Champagne Growers and Houses.


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