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There are many wine regions in the world known for one or two flagship varieties. Burgundy is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Piemonte is Nebbiolo, Tuscany is Sangiovese, Napa is Cabernet Sauvignon and so on. In Sicily, the flagship grape is Nero d'Avola and I had the privilege to explore this grape through the wines from Planeta which I shared in a recent column in the Napa Valley Register and you can it read here.

In Italy, more than 80 percent of the grapes grown are native varieties. One of the most cultivated indigenous varieties is Nero d’Avola, the flagship red grape of Sicily. It makes up 60 percent of Sicily’s agriculture. When speaking about Nero d’Avola from Sicily, it is like speaking about Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Sangiovese from Tuscany and Montepulciano from Abruzzo.

One of the leading producers of Nero d’Avola is Planeta. The Planeta family in Sicily dates back five centuries and 17 generations. After a long history in agriculture, Grandfather Vito Planeta transformed their small family winery into a large cooperative winery in the 1900s.

Anything you think about chocolate will be changed after trying Peluso Chocolate from Sicily. This special chocolate is not just about eating chocolate, it is about eating a story. And Peluso Chocolate is the Please The Palate pick of the week. Peluso chocolate is called chocolate "made in the cold." This recipe was created in 1746 in the southern city of Modica in Sicily and has been made the same way ever since. The cocoa seeds are ground and mixed with sugar. Those are the only two ingredients! There is no butter or oil or milk added. The processing is done at a low temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. By processing it at a low temperature, the healing properties of the cocoa are maintained (they are typically lost when the temperatures reach more than 104 degrees). The healing properties of cocoa are tannins, which have antioxidants and blood pressure regulators. That means that this chocolate has benefits for cardiovascular health, antibacterial protection and safeguards against viral diseases. Flavanoids (which offer protection against tumors) ensure better liver function and help strengthen immune defenses to fight free radicals.