One of my coworkers recently brought in some Jelly Belly® jelly beans to share, and after popping a couple, I had what can charitably be called an epiphany of sorts.
Some of these have flavors like wine! More or less.
Let me explain.
When we taste, we are always analyzing each and every facet and character trait of an individual wine. Science confirms that through the winemaking process, grapes can evolve and display totally non-grape qualities that are sometimes unexpected. It’s surprisingly simple, actually. A plain grape tastes like a grape. However, inside that humble peel is a veritable smorgasbord of flavors waiting to be unleashed. The act of fermentation unlocks flavors and scents that are found in other food (and not so food) items.
You don’t really think that they actually put petrol in Riesling, do you? I can pretty much vouch that even the most passionate of NZ Sauv Blanc winemakers avoid the addition of cat pee into their wines.
It’s just the grapes.
True, many wines may be subtle, such as Pinot Grigio – admittedly one of my least favorite wines – or highly fragrant such as the German or Austrian whites.
So what does this have to do with jelly beans?
Jelly Belly®, unlike most other jelly bean companies, uses the “real deal” when making its trademark 50 Original flavors. The flavors that immediately made me think of wine were Blueberry, Buttered Popcorn, Chocolate Pudding, Raspberry, Plum, Green Apple, Red Apple, and a few more. These are flavors that we can discern in some of our favorite wines, and I just knew that this would be perfect for comparing.
Jelly Belly® also has some flavors – their BeanBoozled and Manly collections, for instance – that have such appetizing-sounding flavors as Dead Fish, Spoiled Milk, Booger, Groin Pull, Freedom, and Shrapnel, among others. I don’t know, and frankly don’t want to know, what they use as the base flavor ingredients. Ew.
However, even in those questionable collections, they have a few gems such as Lawn Clippings, Steak, Leather, Asphalt, and Tobacco. Definitely worth seeking out for comparison or a fun wine tasting!
I learned about Jelly Belly® jelly beans a hundred or so years ago when President Ronald Reagan declared them the best jelly beans ever. Thirty-something years later, I still can’t disagree!
The Jelly Belly® site has every jelly bean you could ask for, even if it’s a bit on the expensive side. Search for discounts in other places. I bought a container at Costco for a song, in comparison to what the prices are online. I believe that some of the other big box stores have them, too. I think that having a tasting using Jelly Belly® jelly beans with a specific wine or wine group would be a hoot! For instance, grabbing their Chocolate Pudding, Plum, Wild Blackberry, and Cappuccino beans for a Merlot or Right Bank Bordeaux tasting.
I will be using it to show folks that you can distinguish flavors even if they’re all together in your mouth. My own experimenting saw me trying a Buttered Popcorn, Lemon, French Vanilla, Green Apple, and Lime to approximate the flavors found in a California Chardonnay. OF COURSE it didn’t taste exactly like Chard, but the separation of flavors was there, and I found it to be quite enlightening.
I think that this tasting will be fun, and I’ll be sure to report on it later!
Disclaimer: I am fully aware of my unbelievable hypocrisy in promoting undoubtedly unhealthy jelly beans as a wine tasting tool. Hey! It’s just for fun!