Wine-Flavored Chocolates Are All the Rage at 2006 Chocolate Show

There's always been veritas in vino. Now there's vino in chocolate.

Spices such as chili pepper and cardamom have been showing up in chocolate for a while, and many chocolatiers have also been flavoring their concoctions with teas like Earl Grey.

This year, one of the up-and-coming trends is chocolate infused with wine. Among the confections spotted at the industry's annual Chocolate Show in New York City over the weekend were truffles and ganaches spiked with everything from Chardonnay to Shiraz.

Click here for a photo essay of this year's Chocolate Show.

J. Emanuel Chocolatier is one of the leaders of the wine-in-chocolate pack, with its Bacchus line of truffles flavored with Cabernet, Red Zinfandel, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, among other varietals.

"I was trying to combine my love for wine and chocolate together," said company owner Tad Van Leer. "The profiles of wine are very similar to those of dark chocolate. It's healthy and it's fun."

Neuchatel Chocolates is also making a red wine dark chocolate truffle, said marketing manager Melanie Coldiron.

Other companies, like the Tokyo-based Mary's Chocolatier, have champagne- and kahlua-laced ganaches that look even more tantalizing thanks to edible silver glitter sprinkled on the outside.

But the cocktail chocs don't stop there. Some go so far as to replicate the flavors of mixed drinks, like the mojito chocolates by newcomer Cocoa Locoa. They're made with lime, mint and rum, just like the real thing.

Chocolatiers also keep pushing the limits of purity and darkness by raising the percentages of cacao to astonishingly high levels.

Cocoa Locoa has a dark ganache that's 99 percent cacao. And E. Guittard is coming out with "Nocturne," a chocolate bar that's 91 percent cacao.

"It's pretty punch-in-your-face," said Gary Guittard.

Tea-infused chocolate is still everywhere, with green tea confections the most prevalent. Mary's has a new green tea ganache, and Knipschildt Chocolatier's latest concoction is a chocolate flavored with a blend of Earl Grey and green tea.

Chocolate makers are continuing to experiment with spices, too. One of Mary's recent additions is a wasabi ganache, which has a Japanese-style kick.

Mary's spokeswoman Kaori Kobayashi said the company has latched on to the popularity of Japanese foods in the United States by incorporating some of the ingredients into its chocolates.

"We are always pursuing new flavors," Kobayashi said through an interpreter.

Other companies, like Cielo — which means "heaven" in Italian and promises chocolates that are made the way they are in Tuscany, with local ingredients — are injecting their sweets with everything from olive oil and salt to decanted balsamic vinegar.

So many people go gaga for chocolate that a new club for enthusiasts called Cocoa Ventures formed only in June and has already signed up 1,000 members, according to spokeswoman Ann Martini.

What's with the obsession with the sweet brown treat?

"It's just one of those guilty indulgences," Martini said. "Besides the fact that it's fabulous tasting, chocolate has become a lot more sophisticated. It happened with cheese and wine and now with chocolate. You can taste all different levels of flavor."

Self-professed chocoholic Christine Boozer, 35, of Scotch Plains, N.J., brought her husband Greg and 8- and 5-year-old sons Justin and Garrett with her to the show for the first time this year to support her addiction.

"I love chocolate!" Boozer said.

Somehow, we don't think she's alone.

Click here for a photo essay of this year's Chocolate Show.