When you see a dry white wine on the shelf in your local bottle store with Japanese characters on it, its hard not to stop and go ‘what the…’ . With closer inspection you see it says ‘special for sushi’ and then on the back label you find Spanish writing. I swear I am not going crazy – this cultural fusion is the doings of the Spanish Cava company Freixenet and Japanese winemaker Yoko Sako.
This completely new wine concept known as Oroya – is the result of Sako’s determination to fuse together the intricate tastes of sushi with wine (preferably the grape variety and not the rice variety). This isn’t the easiest of tasks when you think about it as you have the salty bitterness of the soy sauce, the sweet vinegared rice to the raw fish and prickly hot wasabi and ginger.
The word Oroya is a symbol of a carrier of cultures, a basket of traditions, knowledge, folklore and authenticity which is what Sako is trying to achieve – a harmonisation between the Japanese and Spanish gastronomy and culinary culture. Therefore Sako’s creation comes from the relatively new D.O area of Tierra De Castilla in Spain. It is made up of three grape varieties you don’t hear of every day but the blend of the three creates all the important components in supposedly accentuating your sushi experiences.
The majority of the blend is made from Airen (60%), the most widely planted white grape in the world – which is surprising I know, though it must be noted it is a grape without ambition and mostly contributes to the making of Spanish Brandy. Macabeo (30%) makes up the next chunk of the blend, a grape typically used in the Spanish Cava recipe – it offers plentiful fruit and acidity to the blend. The remaining chunk is made up of the aromatic Moscatel (10%).
So here I was the other day, I made sure I chilled down the bottle with plentiful time to spare while I prepared my sushi. Unfortunately, after a year of failing to find any good sushi places over here, I gave in and taught myself how to make it! Okay, it’s not the best, but I am getting better and when you make it yourself you really can let your imagination run wild with quirky combinations.
After everything was ready and raring to go we got stuck into the sushi and the vino– and my verdict on the wine is simply that its not bad though I would prefer to combine a different style wine with my future sushi servings.
The Moscatel and fruit from the Airen came through with tastes of green apples and orchard fruits on the palate with some citrus and a touch of blossoms. I wouldn’t drink this wine by itself and I don’t feel the sushi enhanced the flavours of the wine. Due to its downplayed characteristics, the good thing was it didn’t overpower or clash with the delicate flavours of the sushi and it acted as a good palate cleanser in-between the different sushi and sashimi.
In my opinion, keeping in mind I make my very own weird food concoctions that people usually look at me sideways for – I would prefer to go for a sweeter style of wine with my sushi. The Oroya was too dry and I feel a more off-dry, in your face fruit style would suit this Japanese delicacy better – perhaps a German Riesling or Gewurtz would go down a treat. I have even heard Champagne and sparking wines can make a nice match for sushi…… Sheesh this sounds like I better not roll up the sushi mat just yet!