Okonomiyaki – the Japanese social food par excellence: friends gathered around the teppan, the aromas and smoke of the sizzling pancake inviting everyone to dig in. There’s a range of ingredients – seafood, meat, kimchi perhaps – but the finished article, topped with okonomiyaki sauce and dried bonito flakes, always combines the richness from the batter with the sweetness of the sauce, and the saltiness of the fish flakes.
Which wine can handle these flavours? The ultimate food wine: Riesling. More specifically, an off-dry German Riesling.
Today’s Wine Pairing: Riesling Kabinett x Okonomiyaki
Now, as someone once said: ‘life is too short to read German wine labels’, so we’ll save the explanation of the various German wine terms for another time. For now, the type of Riesling to seek out will have ‘Kabinett’ on the label. Kabinett is one of the Prädikatswein categories indicating the level of sugar ripeness in the grape at harvest. Kabinett wines will often be semi-sweet, but some are dry, and these usually have ‘trocken’ (German for ‘dry’) on the label too. In any case, Kabinett wines have a nice weight to them, but still have the Riesling’s powerful acidity.
So, why does this wine work with okonomiyaki (particularly seafood)? The sweetness in the wine is able to cope well with the sweet okonomiyaki sauce and the mayo. The acidity is perfect at cutting through the batter and Riesling is a superb partner for seafood generally. Also, Kabinett wines, especially off-dry ones, are typically light in alcohol (our one was 10% abv), making them ideal for those easy-going social gatherings over the teppan!