Owners Andrew Bopes and Melissa Friddle recently held a grand opening for Mon Âme Chocolate & Wine Bar at 19 S. Second St. The space was previously occupied by another wine shop, Wilmington Tasting Room.
Bopes has worked in the hospitality and wine business in Wilmington for more than a decade, helping to open The Basics, 319 N. Front St., and manna, 123 Princess St. It was at manna where he met pastry chef Rebeca Alvarado-Parades, who began training him in classical chocolate work.
Bopes has spent the past several years perfecting the craft and growing a small home-based business. When the Second Street space became available, he felt the time was right to open a shop that would combine his two passions: chocolate and wine.
After some basic cosmetic work and repositioning of the bar, Mon Âme opened quietly in late 2017. Because of health department regulations regarding the pre-Civil War building’s plumbing, Bopes must currently serve wine in plastic cups until the issue is resolved.
“I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I hate having to serve in plastic for now, but given the situation and the unexpected requirements, I felt it was better to open and start growing the business,” Bopes said. “We’ll be serving in glassware as soon as possible.”
His goal in selecting wines for the shop is to have a wide range of wines that won’t be found in the grocery store. Bottles range in price from $12 to $200, and there are currently about 180 wines in stock. Bopes said he hopes to double that amount within the year, utilizing customer feedback to drive his selections.
“I don’t think there’s a bad varietal out there if it’s done right,” Bopes said. “And I love the opportunity to show customers something new and unexpected.”
Bopes said he was pleasantly surprised when he first tasted Morton, a Bordeaux blend from Sanctuary Vineyards on the Outer Banks. His enthusiasm for this well-priced crowd pleaser has made it one of the shops best-sellers.
“We want to help people figure out what they like and enjoy taking the time to talk and taste with them,” Bopes said. “Our wine list will be ever-evolving, offering something for everyone.”
On-site drinking is welcomed, both inside and in the courtyard.
As for the chocolates, Bopes regularly carries two types of truffles: a salted caramel and a mocha. Both are made with 66 percent dark organic chocolate. Other flavors rotate, and he enjoys creating flavors designed for wine and beer pairings.
Mon Âme does carry some of what Bopes refers to as “staples of American craft brewing,” in bottles and cans, and enjoys partnering with local breweries for special events.
While the shop will not host regular weekly tastings, special events such as pairings and live music will take place. There is a weekly $6 featured wine by the glass, and a 15 percent discount is offered on all carry-out bottles. Special orders for both chocolates and wine are available.
Mon Âme is open 3 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
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