Taste Test: Chocovine

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

When I first saw it introduced by that unreliable arbiter of taste called the Today Show, I almost did a spit take with a dangerously hot cup of coffee. "For the love of ... who ... why?" I sort of groggily mumbled.

After it was observed, slurped and judged by the Today Show staffers - who in the past I'd seen make clumsy comments betraying an alarming lack of sophistication and experience with food and beverages - decided if I ever ran into the oddity on my own, I'd have to try it.

Cutting to the chase, last weekend, while waltzing through Pace-High Carryout's wine selection, I saw it front and center and prominently displayed, like a beacon of mutant strangeness defiantly daring me to try it.

What I tried: Chocovine, $11

In Dutch: Usually you can tell a lot about an alcoholic beverage by its label and bottle. But then, usually it's not a bizarre elixir combining chocolate with wine.

Chocovine - made in that wine-producing hotbed of Holland - has on its label "the taste of Dutch chocolate and fine red wine" written above a field of tulips and a windmill.

Frankly, I found the non-specificity of "fine red wine" nearly as troubling as the Yoo-Hoo-looking liquid I viewed through the clear, screw-capped bottle.

Dutch courage: Since there was precious little else on Chocovine's bottle besides its alcoholic content (a moderately heavy 14 percent) and a less-than-reassuring list of ingredients ("grape wine with artificial flavor, cream and artificial colors"), I hit the Chocovine website.

There, I was told the quirky quaff contained a "fine French cabernet" (even though Chocovine's slender and slope-shouldered bottle looked much more like a German wine bottle than a Bordeaux-style one) and it was made by a cream manufacturer.

The website claims this creamer "after years of research" has bravely taken up the "daunting process" of mixing wine with chocolate.

Dutch Treat: Chocovine looked like, poured like and had the body of chocolate milk. It smelled like Baileys Irish Cream and had negligible wine characteristics. Sipping it only reinforced the Baileys comparison, as it tasted like a sweet - if creamy smooth - liqueur with only the faintest whisper of "wine-ness" on the finish, with a bit of chalkiness as well.

Would I drink it again?: I didn't really hate it, but - like Baileys - a little of it went a very long way. Maybe it'd be good poured on ice cream or (imagine a light bulb snapping to life above my head) used in the construction of a tiramisu-like dessert. See, I have over half a bottle left and - house rules - no alcohol goes to waste on my watch!

Spot a new item you'd like Taste Test to try? E-mail gbenton@columbusalive.com