My last column “Where do wine flavours come from?” paraphrased a lot of information given by Sherry Martin the PR specialist at Karlo Estates winery of Prince Edward County,when my sisters and I visited for a tasting. One of the comments on the column came from Doreen Pengracs who blogs at Chocolate Travel Diversions and who is currently finishing up a book called Chocolatour: A quest for the world’s best chocolate.
She wanted to know what caused the chocolate notes in some wines, so I sent the question back to Sherry Martin and the rest of this blog is her response. I thought it was so interesting it needed sharing.
According to Sherry, that chocolate you’re picking up might be because of the varietal: Certain grapes have a chocolate taste profile to begin with, like Merlot. It’s usually the Bordeaux and hotter climate reds that taste of chocolate.
The oak is another place the taste of chocolate can be imparted.Oak can give off may flavours; sweet spices such as cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, or burnt sugar flavours like caramel and vanilla; chocolate or even coffee. The toast level in the oak barrel used can determine the flavour; toastier barrels (where a cooper will brown the wood with fire, just like an old fashioned bread toaster over a camp fire) gives darker richer flavours. The source of the oak can be another factor. French oak has a sweeter, more vanilla taste profile while American is more intense and has been said to have more of a coconut note to it.
Chocolate itself can be broken down further to have subtleties like vanilla and leather.Vanilla (otherwise known as vanillin) also comes from oak in the form of vanillic acid, which is where we get artificial vanilla from.Leather comes from the tannins themselves, also from the barrel. (Think tanned leather.)
Keep in mind flavour is very subjective.One person may pick up chocolate, while another might perceive it as molasses or plums.
What is most important is that you enjoy it, so don’t worry, sit back, take a sip and savour the flavours.