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Chocolate wine revisited: It’s not just for Valentine’s Day

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Sweet Red by ChocolatRouge.

Newsflash! You can wear white after Labor Day and chocolate wine isn’t just for Valentine’s Day. Ok, full disclosure: I actually discovered my new favorite chocolate wine at a tasting on February 14. While the chocolate-centric holiday might be the impetus for sampling this type of drink, it certainly isn’t the only time to bust out some sweet reds.

Over the past few years, the market for chocolate wine has expanded greatly, offering a much larger range of products. What started out as adult Yoo-Hoo has now become an interesting category for wine connoisseurs who like the sweeter side.

Chocolate Shop’s Crème de Cocoa falls is this creamy category and while it claims to be a blend of wine and velvety chocolate flavors, it comes off more like delicious chocolate milk. Chocolate Shop’s Chocolate Strawberry is a little more on the wine-like side with strong notes of strawberry mixed with the milder chocolate and red wine flavors. For a blend of these two flavor palates, try the Chocolate Shop Red Wine, which has both fruit-forward notes and darker chocolate flavors.

Another milkier product, and the one I first had locally at a Rock ‘n Roll Wine event, is ChocoVine. Touted on its website as the “number one selling chocolate wine in America,” this brand has expanded to include raspberry, espresso and whipped cream flavors.

While there’s nothing wrong with the milkier alcoholic Yoo-Hoo wines, Bailey’s kind of cornered the market on creamy concoctions and chocolate wine should probably taste at least a little bit like wine.

While these dessert-like beverages are a delicious treat, I am currently more excited by the products that are moving away from this Yoo-Hoo trend and back to the basics: fruit and chocolate.

At Hyde’s Valentine’s Day edition of Vino Thursdays (the next is scheduled for March 21), I sampled the Sweet Red from ChocolatRouge and was pleasantly surprised. The wine is a blend of Pinot noir, Malbec and Syrah with natural chocolate extracts that merge for a sweet yet well-balanced flavor that still feels like you are drinking a red wine. The wine, served chilled, may not feel like a traditional warm red but the flavor is much closer, with the smooth chocolate notes. For those looking for a more dry flavor, try the ChocolatRouge Dark Red.

Whether you want the cloyingly sweet flavors of chocolate milk or the more subtle red wine notes, the world of chocolate wine has expanded to include something for just about everyone.

Chocolate Shop, ChocoVine and ChocolatRouge products are available locally at both Lee’s Discount Liquor and Total Wine.

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