Among the many wonderful things to be sampled from the menu at Norman’s, the exceptional restaurant owned by celebrity chef Norman Van Aken at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Resort, the creamy cracked conch chowder is a standout of a starter. It’s a cream-based soup with coconut mild and saffron, which both add levels of richness, plus crunchy bits of diced peppers, onions, potatoes, corn, carrots, celery and poblano chilies. There is also a bit of orange flavor, and the chowder is garnished with shaved coconut and a cilantro leaf.
So if the creamy cracked conch chowder is my soup, I turn to Norman’s sommelier, Yusuf Yildiz, to ask, “What’s My Wine?”
“I choose S.A. Prum Wehlener Sonnennuhr from Mosel, Germany,” says Yildiz. The wine has a kabinett designation, which refers to the level of ripeness of the grapes. The wine is made with 100 percent riesling grapes and has a bright gold appearance and a pleasantly fruity nose, says Yildiz. “The taste is going to be of lemon and peach with a mineral backdrop,” he says. The wine has an initial showing of sweetness in the mouth, but the finish is dry. “When you’re tasting any cream-based soup, you want to feel the flavor,” says Yildiz. The dry finish of the wine allows the three dimensional flavors of the chowder to come through.
Yildiz is a native of Turkey and a graduate of the Eresin Tourism and Hospitality school in Istanbul. Before joining Norman’s he worked at Doc’s with Neil Connolly and at Victoria & Albert’s with Scott Hunnel.
S.A. Prum is a family owned winery on the banks of the Mosel River. The Wehlener Sonnennuhr is featured on Norman’s wine list for $57, but, says Yildiz, is often offered as a by-the-glass selection.