Have you heard of Cotton Candy wine? No, the wine is not made from fluffy sugar. When you hear about chocolate, coffee, or cotton candy wine, it’s a marketing ploy playing off of a wine’s natural flavors.
Wine grapes have compounds in their skins and pulp that are found elsewhere in nature, such as fruit, grass, or flowers. For example, the vegetal aroma in Sauvignon Blanc comes from Pyrazines, which are also found in bell peppers! Because specific smell and taste compounds are always found in certain varieties, it can be tempting to brand them with fun and familiar pop culture foods, like candy!
The aromas can also come from the oak. One common aroma from oak is vanilla, which comes from vanillin, a naturally occurring compound in French oak. As with aromas found in grapes, certain styles of wines typically use oak, so the associated aromas will be consistent in that style.
Let’s break down some of the more popular “flavored wines.”
Cotton Candy Wine
Cotton Candy Wine is a sweet wine made with native American grapes in the Great Lakes area. The aromas of the grape are similar to the soft, sugary smell of cotton candy.
Coffee Wine is a dry red wine made from oaked Pinotage in South Africa. The smoky aroma of the Pinotage grape combined with oak really smells like a freshly brewed coffee!
The term “chocolate wine” is used rather loosely for a dark, rich, red wine that has a strong aroma of mocha or chocolate. This often comes from a combination of the vanilla aroma from oak, a heavy toast on that same wine barrel, and dark fruit aromas from the grape. It could be a full-bodied red, but it’s also sometime used to describe ruby port.
Chocolate wine also can be wine mixed with chocolate. This will be very rich and sugary, like cold cocoa and a full glass of port.
Wine Spritzers & Coolers
This category shows the whole range of flavors, from blue raspberry to pina colada. This is wine that has been flavored with fruit juice. If that’s your thing, power to you! These tend to be pretty sugary though, so be sure to drink lots of water to avoid a headache in the morning!