Is that wine or chocolate milk?

Posted: February 14, 2014

BUZZ: Hey, Marnie, my mother came over this weekend and brought a bottle of "chocolate wine." That sounded weird enough, but then she poured a glass and it looked like Yoo-hoo. Yuck! Who thinks up this stuff?

Marnie: That was probably ChocoVine, Buzz. It's made with red wine, chocolate and cream, and tastes like a lighter, less boozy spin on Bailey's Irish Cream. I find it hard to discern the taste of red wine, personally, but there's no question that that stuff is hyper-popular these days. That success has not gone unnoticed, either. There are all sorts of "chocolate wine" options now, and they're probably selling like hotcakes today for Valentine's Day weekend.

Buzz: I can see buying wine for your girl, or buying her candy. Why ruin it by mixing them together?

Marnie: Well, maybe they don't sound good together to you, but tastes in wine are as personal as tastes in music or fashion. For every person who prefers wines dry as a bone, there's another who isn't happy without some sweetness in his drink.

Flavorwise, red wine has a lot in common with chocolate-friendly tastes, like raspberry and cherry, so it's really not such a stretch. And, for chocolate lovers who also like wine, indulging in both at the same time can sound pretty seductive.

Buzz: Wouldn't chocolate ruin the taste of the wine?

Marnie: It's true that most red wines can suddenly start tasting thin and sour when served with chocolate or chocolate desserts, but this "clash" happens only because the chocolate is quite sweet and the wine is quite dry. If you choose a sweet wine, like Port, to go with sweet chocolate, harmony is restored. You can get a similar effect in the opposite direction by pairing drier red wines with dark chocolate that has very little sugar in it, like those with a cocoa content above 75 percent. Try it sometime, and you'll see what I mean.

Buzz: I'd rather have a zinfandel with a Yoo-hoo chaser. I'm still skeptical of chocolate-milk wine.

Marnie: Yeah, me too. But I've had a couple of wines recently that had only chocolate added and not cream, so they weren't like chocolate milk. They were pretty tasty.

Buzz: Maybe I'll buy some for my wife for Valentine's Day. Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.


Marnie Old is a local sommelier and wine author known for practical advice with real-world relevance. Her newest book, Wine: A Tasting Course, is an illustrated crash course for the wine curious. Marnie also advises clients in the beverage and restaurant trades. Check her out at MarnieOld.com or follow her on Twitter at @MarnieOld. Buzz's musings are interpreted by Daily News Assistant Managing Editor Gar Joseph.  

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