I was invited last Thursday to a wine tasting (their first one!) at DiVino Patio, the newest addition to the DiVino Group, located in Causaway Center, Wanchai. The place is like walking into an enoteca wine-bar in Italy – (mostly) Italian wines line the center wall, echoing the name of the place, while sexy hanging hams and the alluring aroma of freshly baked bread, sharp salami and fresh, imported cheeses draw you closer to the bar. Outside – an al fresco patio suspended above the bustling streets of Wanchai. Inside – red brick walls, comfortable wooden seats and leather booths, soft lighting from single, sultry lightbulbs suspended from the ceiling. Vintage meat slicers, grinders and scales send one flying back to a simpler era, one where the art of eating, drinking, living with family and friends took time. The food is cicchetti-style small plates, allowing guests to choose multiple and share, tasting many different dishes with many different styles of wine. A great place to relax and treat oneself to a nice, light lunch or after-work-wine-side snacks. The wine tasting was a perfect introduction to the concept behind DiVino – a prosecco, a white, two reds and a sweet wine all from Italy matched to some of their signature bites. The only thing I regret is not having my camera there to take some decent shots of the dishes,
<< Affettati all’Italiana (cold cuts): Yummy fatty and salty coppa and prosciutto with Zonin Prosecco Brut whose dry acidity cut through the fat perfectly and whose slightly nutty, comforting flavors blended beautifully with the savoriness of the meats.
Creamy, warm and moist Risotto of Asparagus and of 4 Cheeses with Greco Fiano di Basilicata, Pipoli 2011. This pairing was meant to show how a wine can pair very well with one dish (4 cheese risotto) while clashing with another, just because of one ingredient (asparagus risotto) >>
Porchetta Italiana (Spit roasted suckling pig) with 2008 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardigna Riserva. This one was by far my favorite dish and pairing at DiVino Patio and I really am kicking myself a bit for not bringing my camera, to properly capture this dish. Fatty little piggy belly, rubbed with plenty of fennel and garlic, rolled up and slow roasted on a spit (I’m guessing) until it becomes tender, moist and absolutely divine. The thing fell apart into three layers – juicy, succulent dark flesh with a bit of a bite to it but by no means tough, a drop-dead-gorgeous layer of trembling, glistening, slightly gelatinous piggy fat and a crispy layer of golden brown skin, capping that fat. The knife glided as gracefully through the flesh as it did the fatty layer. Combining all three layers on a single fork lead to rich mouthfuls of materialized piggy essence, a rich, tremendously satisfying but unspeakably sinful treat. The porchetta was served on a bed of creamy, smooth mashed potatoes which took nothing away from the dream-like softness of the pig and which soaked up the salty, velvet gravy which was afterwards poured onto the meat. Some may argue that the dish lacked an element of jaw-exercise, something crunchy or hearty, perhaps rustic, skin-on, roasted potatoes, but to those people I say: I’ve had a long and difficult week at work. Melting into a soft, easy dish like this is just what I wanted out of my Thursday night. I’ll leave the bruschetta-crunching and ribeye-chewing for a Wednesday night. The Cannonau di Sardigna Riserva was a perfect match. The ripe fruit jam flavors of the wine were like a woodsy berry sauce drizzled over the pork while the warm oak essence added a dignified and upscale twist to the dish. A wonderfully full and round wine that stood up wonderfully to the intense flavors of the little beast.
<< Chicken and Duck Liver pate’, 2009 Nero d’Avola di Sicilia, Principi di Butera. Deep cherry flavors of the wine woke up the mineral tones of the pate’ while its coarse black pepper and cinnamon flavors added some spice to the home-made spread.
Cannolo Siciliano, 2001 Marsala Superiore Ris Targa 1840. Crispy pastry shell, very light, subtly citric ricotta, espresso syrup at the base. For me the deep, heavy flavors of dried apricots and prunes in the wine overpowered the lightness of the connolo, but I do have the bias of not really liking dessert wines. >>