Dec 30, 2020

Food & Wine Pairing: Taking OBX Seafood to the Next Level

Find the Right Wine to Enjoy With Your Meal

The Outer Banks is well known for a wide variety of fresh seafood, which, when prepared a certain way and paired with the right wine, can be an unforgettable dining experience. We recently took an in-depth look at pairing wine with some favorite Outer Banks seafood dishes. OBX local and personal chef Angel Doebler, of Taste.Drink.Pair, and Master Sommelier Max Kast share their knowledge about how to choose wines to pair with a few signature Outer Banks seafood dishes. 


Being a Sommelier

What does it take to be a Master Sommelier? Max Kast is one of only 273 Master Sommeliers in the entire world, and the only Master Sommelier in North Carolina. Sure, tasting wine is part of becoming a Master Sommelier, but there’s much more required to hold the title. 

Choosing A Wine

Part of being a Master Sommelier is knowing which wines pair well with different types of foods. An appropriately paired wine should enhance the flavors of the food. Seafood is lighter than other meats and texture can vary depending on the type of fish or shellfish you choose. Many people assume that white wine is the only type of wine that pairs well with seafood. 

The Basics of Wine Pairing

Max explains that red wine can be paired with seafood, and explains what characteristics of the wine to look for when choosing a wine to accompany seafood. He also goes over the steps to tasting wine, using several senses when trying the wine. When choosing a wine to pair with fish, look for a lighter wine with fewer tannins. Angel prepared Persian Pan-fried fish using Spanish Mackerel, caught fresh on the Outer Banks (recipe below). Max chose Lingua Franca Avini Pinot Noir (2017) to accompany the fish. 

Different Wines for the Same Dish

The Pinot Noir was an excellent accompaniment to the Persian Pan-fried Mackerel, but Max has also chosen De Wetshof Estate Bon Vallon (2019) to accompany the dish. De Wetshof Estate was the first South African winery to make chardonnay. He explains that different wines can bring out different flavors in the dish.

OBX Wineries

Crab cakes are a staple on the menu at most OBX restaurants, and Angel has prepared her version of a crab cake (recipe below). Max chose a local OBX wine to pair with the dish. The Outer Banks is fortunate to have Sanctuary Vineyards just across the Wright Memorial Bridge in Currituck County. Sanctuary Vineyards has a variety of wines in its portfolio that can be found in many local stores and restaurants. Sanctuary Vineyards Pearl (2018) is a blend of Albarino and Viognier, which tastes wonderful with Angel’s crab cake. 


The flavor profiles of each wine chosen by Max to accompany Angel’s culinary creations were different from one another. Max reiterates some important points to remember when choosing a pairing wine. He also gives some tips on what to do if you do not like the bottle of wine you’ve ordered at a restaurant.

Have Your Own OBX Seafood and Wine Pairing at Home

Angel’s recipes for Persian Pan Fried Spanish Mackerel and Crab Cakes are below. Max chose the accompanying wines while on the Outer Banks at local favorite TRiO Restaurant & Market, which has an elaborate selection of wine and beer. Be sure to visit a local OBX seafood market to purchase your fresh catch, whether it’s fish, shellfish, or beloved Outer Banks oysters.

Persian Pan Fried Spanish Mackerel

1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp dried mint leaves
¾ tsp dried dill
¾ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
1 pinch saffron threads, crumbled
1 clove of garlic crushed (or ½ tsp garlic powder)
¼ cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour blend for a gluten-free option)
1 lb Spanish Mackerel, skinned and bloodline removed
1 ½ tsp lemon juice
1½ cup cold water

  1. Mix all spices in a small bowl, use a mortar and pestle if necessary to completely incorporate the spices. Add spices to the flour and whisk to combine.
  2. Mix the water with the lemon juice and allow the fish to sit in the water for at least 30 minutes. Rinse completely and pat dry when ready to cook. Sprinkle each side of the fish with the spice blend and press in to coat.
  3. Bring the temperature up in a skillet, and once hot, coat the bottom of the pan with a light cooking oil. Add the fish, turn the heat down to medium-high. If the fillets start to curl up, flatten out with a spatula and add a little pressure to cook evenly. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Flip and turn the heat off and allow the fish to continue cooking through.
  4. Serve with Persian Rice, Green Goddess Dressing, and lime wedges.
Lingua Franca wine

Crab Cakes

½ cup bread crumbs (use gluten-free panko for a gluten-free option)
1 egg
1 tsp Worcestershire
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp mayo
½ tsp Old Bay or comparable seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
8oz crabmeat, a combination of lump and backfin
Butter to saute

  1. Mix everything except the crab and butter with a whisk. Add in crab and mix thoroughly by hand. Form into 4 cakes.
  2. Saute in butter, about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Courtney Wisecarver

Courtney Wisecarver

Dec 30, 2020

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