Jelly Belly Jelly Beans can be an essential wine education tool. Hear me out for a minute. This isn’t another “pair wine with candy” article, although some of those pairings are fun. Many beginning wine lovers are amazed at how wine professionals are able to pick out certain flavors and aromas in their wines, and I am often asked how I do it. The truth is, once upon a time, we couldn’t pick out some flavors; it takes practice and focus. It is like learning a language, the language of flavors. Once you learn this language, you begin to make associations. Memories begin to come back to you, like how you may have loved watermelon Jolly Ranchers growing up, allowing you to pick out that flavor in a wine. Jelly beans can help remind us of those base flavors and strengthen our memories.
The Jelly Belly Candy company is my recommended brand for this wine education tasting kit because they focus on quality and the purest flavor. It takes 7 to 14 days to make a single Jelly Belly jelly bean. Most Jelly Belly flavors use fine natural ingredients, whenever possible, to flavor the beans, e.g. coconut, fruit juice concentrates, and fruit purees like strawberry, pear and banana. These “true-to-life” flavors are mixed into the center and the shell.
Next time you are visiting Northern California, stop by the factory in Fairfield, California, located halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento. Jelly Belly has welcomed more than seven million visitors since opening its factory doors to the public for tours in the mid-1980s. They have a wide selection of flavors that you can sample and purchase at the factory.
Even if you are not at the Jelly Belly factory, you can go to a candy store with a great selection of Jelly Belly beans and put a “wine tasting kit” together yourself. Here are some great suggestions of basic flavors typically found in different wines for you to try out for yourself.
Chardonnay: Pineapple, Mango, Juicy Pear, Pink Grapefruit, Peach, and French Vanilla
Pinot Grigio: Lemon Drop, Pink Grapefruit, Lemon Lime, Tangerine, Peach, and Juicy Pear
Sauvignon Blanc: Lemon Lime, Pink Grapefruit, Tangerine, Mango, Peach, and Juicy Pear
Riesling: Green Apple, Peach Pink, Grapefruit, Juicy Pear, Cantaloupe, and Tangerine
Pinot Noir: Very Cherry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Plum, Pink Grapefruit and Cappuccino
Merlot: Very Cherry, Chocolate, Plum, Raspberry, French Vanilla, Toasted Marshmallow, Strawberry, and Dr. Pepper
Cabernet Sauvignon: Blackberry, Very Cherry, Raspberry, Plum, and Dr. Pepper
Malbec: Blueberry, Plum, Raspberry, Very Cherry, French Vanilla
Zinfandel: Very Cherry, Strawberry, Raspberry, Dr. Pepper, Blackberry, Plum
French Vanilla, and Chocolate
As you begin this tasting experience, be sure to taste the individual Jelly Belly beans first. Take time to reflect on the flavor before tasting the next jelly bean in order to understand the different flavors associated with each wine varietals. Then, if you put all of the Jelly Belly flavors associated with one varietal in your mouth at the same time, and chew them together, you can come close to the taste experience of the wine varietal itself. Of course, the candy will be much sweeter than the wine, but the flavors give a good representation of the wine.