Coffee, chocolate, toffee! Where to draw the line?

Purists frown on them, but the number of coffee- as well as chocolate- and other obviously sweet-flavoured red wines on the market continues to climb. I’m keeping an open mind on this front and have had some enjoyable mocha moments with wine glass in hand. However, there comes a point where what’s in the bottle just isn’t kosher…

It’s one thing when the chocolate or coffee character is imparted by way of a particular winemaking technique using accepted raw materials and tools of the trade (typically by the way the oak barrels are charred inside). It’s quite another when you go so far as to say on the label that chocolate has been added – as is the case, for example, with an American product called ‘Chocolate Shop’, a blend of Californian red wine (Bordeaux varieties) and ‘natural dark chocolate’. Ag nee man!

Diemersfontein in Wellington were among the pioneers of a coffee character in wine made from Pinotage. But whereas their “ground-breaker” was conventionally branded, today’s choc and mocha brigade are made from various varieties including Shiraz, Cabernet, Malbec et al – and, even if there aren’t any beans or espresso-type additives in the mix, the labels are way more blatant!