‘Divine’ combo – wine and chocolate

Wine & Dine columnist Doug Paulding finds that Masi Amarone and Divine Chocolate make a smooth pairing.

Well, a funny thing happened recently. Divine Chocolate from Washington, D.C., reached out and asked if I would like to try a sampling of its boutique chocolate products just as a lovely bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella wine — which pairs beautifully with chocolate — unexpectedly fell into my hands

Actually, as a wine and spirits writer, the goodies fall into my hands quite regularly. Wine and spirits producers and PR folks send me bottles to taste and review. Sometimes, especially in these Covid times when travel and wine dinners and seminars are off the table, I will walk through a large retail wine operation where I might buy a bottle or two just for inspiration or ideas for a story. Sometimes a friend wants an opinion of a wine he has held for a while. This particular wine came from a friend who didn’t really like or drink wine but had some exceptional older bottles and was preparing to move. “Take what you want. Twenty bucks a bottle.” Hmm. One of the bottles I grabbed was this 2012 Masi Costasera Amarone Classico. 

Amarone has been made in Italy for centuries and is mimicked in other wine-producing countries. But its home is in the Veneto region, overlooking Lake Garda, adjacent to the “Romeo and Juliet” city of Verona and just west of the magic of Venice. Essentially three grapes are grown — Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella. All of the grapes are allowed to ripen fully on the vine, depending on the weather expected. At harvest, the grape clusters are brought into large barns with ample circulation where the appassimento process begins. The bunches are laid on bamboo bunks for weeks to dessicate and concentrate, leaving a raisin-y, flavorful grape to ferment. Water weight loss through this procedure is somewhere between 30 to 40%, resulting in a potent, shriveled grape that is then crafted into wine.

As a result of the dessication and the fermentation and then finally the multiyear oak aging, this wine is super flavor concentrated, balanced, quite dry (not sweet) and fairly high in alcohol, hovering around 15% ABV (alcohol by volume). (At first taste there is a pronounced fresh sweetness, but it is more of a dashing fruitiness.) Deep garnet red in color with dense flavors of potent dark cherry, ripe plum, fully ripe cranberries and blackberry, it possesses head-filling ethers that make it hard to stop inhaling. And every taste is “Wow.”

In 1990, the Amarone region received its DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) status, Italy’s highest and most rigid scoring classification, given only to the best regions with the most exacting production methods. On the neck of the bottle you will find the DOCG label with a unique number and a QR code where you can discover everything you could possibly need to know about the wine. On the bottle reads, “Amarone, a unique modern wine with an ancient heart”.

The Masi name and winery were acquired in 1772 and today Sandro Boscaini is the sixth-generation president from the family. They have holdings in other wine regions of Italy and in Argentina. The Masi company is moving toward sustainable and eco-friendly production, is a vegan producer and does not use any animal by-products or allergy-causing products in its wine production. 

So, how was the Divine Chocolates and Masi Amarone pairing? The chocolates came in a rich milk chocolate and in a 70% cocoa dark chocolate but the website has other options. Both were so mouth filling and pure with layering flavors in the mouth. And then the Amarone did something very mouth- fillingly similar, yet very different. It would be up the consumer which chocolate was preferable. Both were symbiotically wonderful and either one works wonderfully. Go to divinechocolate.com to find a variety of chocolates in a vast variety of shapes. I love my job.

Write me at doug@dougpaulding.com.

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