Despite the popular reputation as a great dessert pairing, chocolate and wine don’t usually go together so well, as their complex sweet, sour, bitter, and savory elements tend to conflict rather than coalesce. There’s one classic exception, though: Banyuls, a port-like, fortified wine made in a southern French region of the same name.
“It’s considered to be the only wine that really goes with chocolate,” said winemaker Douglas Margerum, who recently released his own take on the style. Called “Mute-Age” — a reference to the Banyuls process of mutage, during which alcohol is added to stop fermentation and keep the beverage sweeter — the wine was spiked with barrel-aged brandy and then left to “bake” in 34-liter glass demijohns on the sunny roof of Margerum’s Buellton winery for two years. “That gives you a confection-esque flavor,” he explained.
Mute-Age is the latest in Margerum’s exploration of dessert-friendly options to serve in his tasting room. He also produces an herbally enhanced digestif Amaro, which is now also the base flavor of an ice cream made by Rori’s Artisanal Creamery and in a truffle made by Twenty-Four Blackbirds. The latter company also curated chocolate pairings for both the Mute-Age (the Tanzanian one) and the Amaro, which goes with the Bolivian bar, and there may be more collaborations on the horizon. “We kind of have a bromance going,” said Margerum of his growing relationship with Twenty-Four Blackbirds owner Mike Orlando.
All of these can be tasted at Margerum’s tasting room at 19 E. Mason Street. See margerumwines.com.
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