Does Wine Really Have Chocolate In It?

Letter to Avalon:

Chocolate and Wine“Dear Northwest Wine,

Hello. My name is Marc.  I have a question.  While reading the review for The Owen Roe 1973 Block Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon, the writer says,”Rich components of dark chocolate, anise, vanilla, and sarsaparilla come together in a uniquely elegant and refined texture” as well as many other flavors he and other reviewers mention.

Is the writer saying these “components” are ingredients added to the original wine? Obviously I know nothing about wine but aways thought wine was purely fermented grape juice
extracted from special wine grapes. Am I understanding that other ingredients are added or is the writer just referring to the various flavors he experiences when tasting the wine?”

Thank you in advance for any answer you would provide.
Sincerely, Marc
from Michigan, USA

Dear Marc,

You’ve raised a very good question. And the short answer is no, this Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon has not had any flavorings added to it. In fact, most winemaking countries have banned the use of artificial flavorings in wine. In one famous case, a South African winery was found to have been adding just such compounds to it’s Sauvignon Blanc.

That doesn’t, however, mean that all modern wines are pristine. In fact, millions of bottles every year are doctored with a substance called ‘Mega Purple’ which, as the name suggests, intensifies a wine’s color as well as making it more fruity and appealing. Add to that list the use of enzymes to create texture and water to reduce alcohol levels and you can see that ‘natural’ additions are widely used in lesser wines. These are wines that we would never sell here at Avalon.

The flavors that the writer was referring to are what I like to think of as a poem to the wine. Professional tasters will assess a wine through it’s color, aroma and flavor and when writing about them, expand on the elements that they detect. In looking to evoke a detailed picture of the wine, terms like the ones you note are often used, some overt and others more subtly suggested as a nuance. Together, these terms paint a more vivid picture than simply “this wine is red and dry” might.

I hope that this helps!

- Avalon Staff

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