Do wines harmonize with Japanese cuisine? find out how

Brought by the Japanese during the periods of world wars, Japanese culture has been in the taste of Brazilians since then, who have admiration for the country and Japanese culture. In the world of sports, for example, judo has always been widely practiced and has been featured in international competitions named after Brazil. Cartoons and an interest in the Japanese language are also highly sought after by Brazilians, and it is no wonder that gastronomy has become fully integrated among the favorite dishes in all corners of Brazil.

You definitely know a Japanese food lover, or you are a Japanese food lover. One of the biggest sensations of Brazilians in recent years, Japanese cuisine has gained more and more space in the taste of Brazil, and it is common to see restaurants opening even in smaller neighborhoods. Although, at first, many people are afraid to try something raw, like sushi, little by little, those who tried it (and liked it) undoubtedly fell in love.

In fact, Japanese food has been a direct competitor of one of the most traditional of Brazilians, which is the barbecue – the barbecue rodízios had to make room for sushi and sashimi in the buffets of the rodízios, as they started to gain more and more competition with the restaurants that have opened and also offer the option of carvery.

Not only Japanese food, but Asian food in general – yakissoba, for example – are also a great success in Brazilian lands, and it is not uncommon to see restaurants merging to offer sushi, yakissoba and other dishes on the menus.

- wines harmonize with Japanese cuisine? find out how

Asian cuisine inserted in Brazilian culture

The national territory is full of diversity of nationalities. Chinese, Japanese and Korean immigrants have been arriving in Brazil since the last century – and, especially, the Japanese have gained a strong prominence in Brazilian culture. The Japanese came to Brazil as well as the Italians and the Poles, that is, to look for jobs that would bring them back to the dignity of life. 

With many families disembarking in Brazil, the integration of Japanese and Brazilian cultures began, called gaijin by the Japanese. 

Slowly, the Japanese people began to introduce their habits, their religious beliefs, their way of life and, of course, their food. The first Japanese foods integrated into Brazil were unseasoned white rice (shirogohan), misoshiru with fermented soy paste, Swiss chard, sashimi and others.

At first seen as exotic, the food slowly began to merge with the taste of Brazilians, and became a hit with the rise of Japanese restaurants in the country. 

Considered a great option that escapes the more traditional foods, and is in fact healthier, Japanese cuisine is already part of the daily life of Brazilians.

Asian wines and cuisine

As it could not be missing, beer is the main companion of those who appreciate good sushi. But there are other drinks that can be great companions for Japanese cuisine, even surpassing the beloved beer. Wines can also be great accompaniments to Asian cuisine – it may seem difficult, but it is possible to make perfect pairings.

In the taste of Brazilians, wine is also very welcome, especially when accompanied by special meals and days of celebration. Pairing meals with wine is already something very popular in Brazil, and the search for new perfect accompaniments for Asian cuisine has already been frequent.

Traditionally, foods such as wasabi, O soy sauce and even ginger can make things a little difficult, as they are foods with a strong and very marked flavor. But nothing is impossible in the world of wine pairing. Here are some tips on how to balance the flavor of oriental food with wines.

The light ones for the light ones

As a basic rule of wine pairing and cuisine in general, light foods also call for light drinks – and, in general, Japanese food is light and with a lot of subtlety of flavors, with the exception of those mentioned above.

Sushi and sashimi, which are the main dishes of Japanese festive cuisine, go very well with lighter wines such as the most delicate sparkling wines or rosé wines. In this way, the wine will not compete with the more discreet flavor of the fish.

Shellfish, such as oysters, shrimp, octopus and squid, also call for milder wines. In these cases, it is also worth trying green wines, and for those who choose rosé, it is also a good option to pair them with fish with a little darker meat such as tuna.

Tips and rules for drinking in Japan

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Fattier fish ask for white wines

Some Japanese cuisine dishes tend to offer more fatty fish or recipes that are fried, or even creamier. Tempuras, gyozas and spring rolls are some examples of these types of dishes.

In these cases, the ideal is to invest in a wine that is more acidic, and white wines are the right choice. Sauvignon Blanc, for example, is a great tip to pair with these dishes, as it gives more balance on the palate and can reduce the taste of fat. In addition to this, it is also possible to invest in a Chardonnay, which is a fuller wine that goes very well with robatayaki and missoyaki – perfect for those who want well-defined flavors.

Tips and rules for drinking in Japan

Hot dishes and red wines

The red wines, despite being a little faded in the pairing with Japanese cuisine, still find space. Although they are stronger wines, there are some types of red that guarantee more lightness, such as Pinot Noir. 

These are ideal choices to pair with hot dishes, such as Ramen Soup, ramens with pork, grilled meat or even katsu curries. Mushrooms, such as shitake and shimeji, also enter the list of foods that go perfectly with red wines, especially dark mushrooms. Lighter mushrooms go well with lighter reds.

Red wine, in these cases, adds more acidity to the dishes and balances the complexity of flavors in the mouth. They are, without a doubt, great options for the coldest days.

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