As you know, Vintage Cellars is located in sunny Southern California. Sushi and Asian fusion has spread across the country, but it’s been a staple here as long as I can remember. To bring my sushi experience to another level, I was longing to find a great red wine. Wine and sushi? That should be interesting... Batman would say “to the Bat Cave”, but here at Vintage we say, “to the wine cellar.” Our wine cellar here is a collection of wines Gene (the boss) has been collecting for about 30 years and me for only 3. The challenge again: I needed a red wine to complement the complexity of tuna, salmon, mackerel or eel. Okay, I’ll admit it: to impress a girl. California Cab, Pinot, Bordeaux from 83, 89, 2000 & 2005 were all willing participants. With sushi, we figured light supple tannins would not over power the fish. And the selection was made.
I brought along 2 bottles of 1983 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou to enjoy with friends. After a lengthy discussion with the owner (who couldn’t understand why I would bring a bottle of wine and not order off a tiny wine list) we agreed on a corkage fee and it was time to enjoy.
Before I released the cork, I ordered some fatty tuna sashimi, spicy tuna hand rolls and fresh water eel. Upon pouring the wine, I noticed the lighter color; however, the dark ripe fruit on the nose was a real treat. A soft velvet mouthfeel with hints of licorice & mushroom to go with fully resolved tannins. We were all impressed with the wine and it really started to shine after about 30 minutes.
When the sushi came, it did not disappoint. The tartness and acidity balanced well with the fatty tuna and cut right though the spice on the tuna hand roll. The spice from the roll added extra fruit flavors of cherry and blueberry. Next time I’ll skip the eel as the sweetness from the eel sauce downgraded the fruitiness of the wine.
My advice: don’t be afraid to experiment when it comes to pairing wine and sushi. As the Asian fusion continues to sweep the country, you could get a leg up on pairing wine and Asian cuisine.