The other night I had dinner with a few friends at a favorite Japanese restaurant. This is a place where diners select almost none of the dishes they will eat - the chef chooses, and it is not a sushi place. It's more of a home cooking situation. Anyway, with the consent of the owner, we bring our own wines (paying corkage fees), and I've found over the years that Sherry, Champagne, Loire Chenin Blanc, and other savory white wines go best with the variety of dishes.
When would we drink this wine, I wondered. We had all sorts of other wine at the table, most of it the typical savory white wine we tend to drink with this food. Then, when we were served a lovely sashimi course, Mariko suggested that we try the Pelaverga with the Bonito sashimi. She said that the richness of the fish, and the smoky grilled exterior would pair well with the red wine.
She was right. I would never think of drinking red wine with Bonito (or Tuna or Mackerel), although maybe Poulsard would work. It would have to be a very light bodied red. This Pelaverga was not particularly light in color, but it reminded me of a Loire Valley Pineau D'Aunis with its floral and peppery fragrance and its fresh and energetic palate. It of course elevated the smoky character of the grilled portion of the fish, but I loved also how it brought out the meatiness of the Bonito and still refreshed the palate.
Another reminder to be open minded about pairing wine with food, and to let others guide us from time to time.