Cooking Classes

Wine Recommendations for May Cooking Class

Hi fellow food and wine lovers!

Continuing to give his expert and friendly advice for what recommendations he has is my long time friend and colleague Proal Perry. Proal and his wife Connie and I all work together in my Key West glory days.


Wine Pairing for Norman’s

Grilled ‘Macho’ Grouper with Boniato Hash Cakes and Lemon Compound Butter

by Proal Perry

White Wine with Fish! This old paradigm certainly has its validity and is applicable in more cases than not. However, the use of soy sauce in the ‘Macho’ marinade opens up multiple other possibilities for this paring-yes, including red wine options.

I’m probably more familiar with the various iterations of Norman’s combination of meatier textured fish in soy-citrus marinade than virtually any other of his preparations, so have had ample opportunity to think about and try many different wine pairings over the years. In the final analysis, there are two ways to go with an appropriate wine companion, each working equally well. The first would be to go the complementary route and select an off dry white wine, where the slight sweetness pairs well with the saltiness and slight sourness of the soy sauce in the marinade. (I have made this dish countless times at home and frequently add Mirin to the marinade to play up on this complementary pairing, when I have already decided to go with a particular white wine.) Some options could be a sparkling Moscato from a top producer, like Elio Perrone in Asti, an off dry Mosel Riesling, or an Oregon Pinot Gris with a touch of residual sugar, such as Alexana in the Willamette Valley.

For today’s preparation, I have decided to focus on a pairing that I think is really the jam with this dish: Pairing a red wine, whose own Umami character accentuates the natural Umami in the soy sauce. This congruent pairing can amplify the fruit in the wine, while the saltiness of the soy sauce mollifies the slight bitterness of the tannin that can be present in the wine.

I have always been a fan of lighter bodied red wines for their versatility with food. I think the Carignan dominant wines of Southern France, with their balanced flavor profile and smooth tannins, are a perfect pairing for Norman’s ‘Macho’ Grouper. They are also notable for their Umami flavors of cured meats and distinctive brown spice notes of cardamom and star anise, making them a perfect foil to the soy components of the marinade.

Look for Carignan/Grenache blends from the appellations of Minervois and Corbières in Southern France. In particular, I would seek out the wine from Chateau Oupia in Minervois called ‘Les Heretiques’. I don’t think there is a wine that overdelivers for the money anywhere in winedom. I would also look for the Carignan dominant wines from the Cotes Catalanes, in particular those from Domaine de Majas. If neither of these are readily available at your wine merchant, ask for good examples of Carignan/Grenache blends from other regions in Southern France and also in Northern Spain.



Proal Perry has been assisting Norman in pairing wines for his food since they first worked together in Key West at ‘Louie’s Backyard’ in the mid 80’s. He has also paired wines for a number of Norman’s cookbooks. He and his wife Connie operate the idyllic “Sourwood Inn” just outside Ashville. There you can experience their love of hospitality and nature first hand.

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