Don't hold back on sweetness when pairing wine with Japanese cuisine, says Lara Graham.

Lara Graham

WASABI Restaurant & Bar, 2 Quamby Place, Noosa Heads, QLD

While studying for a degree she admits she didn’t exactly love, Wasabi Restaurant & Bar Sommelier Lara Graham felt a pull towards the world of wine through her work as a glassy.

“I found the wine world fascinating and constantly evolving, and I could see myself wanting to evolve with it,” Graham says. “Being surrounded by people with such passion for food and wine, it hooked me in. I found myself soaking up as much knowledge as I could from both the sommelier and the chef, and noticed the importance of the synergy between them.”

As sommelier at Noosa Head’s Wasabi Restaurant & Bar, Graham designs a drinks list suited to the venue’s modern Japanese cuisine showcasing locally grown elements. Oh, and in her ‘spare time’ she also co-owns the nearby YoYo Bar Noosa.

“The cuisine at Wasabi is a huge factor when compiling the list. The menu is ever-changing with the seasons [so] the wine list is also ever-changing. The food is international by default and as you would expect, the wine list has a vast international offering itself - from classical European expressions to wines from female-driven wineries in Japan and everywhere in between,” she says.

Her pointers for pairing drinks with Japanese cuisine? Graham says don’t shy away from wines with body, acidity or sweetness, and consider the profile of the fish when pairing with sashimi. For classic Japanese dishes like tempura, she suggests beer is always a winner or, alternatively, a cider, like St Ronans Méthode Traditionelle Pear Cider, would work well. For something raw or with a pickled element, Graham recommends a wine with a bit of sweetness to soften any tartness, like a Kabinett riesling. During her quiet nights at home, Graham’s go-to pairings have been curry with a Cullen Wines Rose Moon Pét-nat, and pizza or pasta with The Vinden Headcase Charmless Man.