I’ve already reviewed a different flavour of these little candies from Brookside (“A Division of Hershey Canada,” for what it’s worth), and I both liked them and found them misleading. They show fruit on the bag in a way that makes you think there’s a piece of real dried fruit in the core, but instead there’s a little lump of fruit-flavoured jelly candy hiding inside that chocolate shell.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. The chocolate is decent enough, and the jelly centre is well made and full of flavour. It’s just not what you’d be expecting if you went by the imagery on the packaging alone.
This variety appealed to be because it specifically references the Merlot grape variety. Why do I find this fascinating?Simply put, because most people wouldn’t be able to tell a Merlot from a Cabernet Sauvignon from a Pinot Noir from a Grenache if given a couple of glasses to sip with dinner. So what you’re buying is the name of the grape and therefore the association with wine, not the taste of the grape itself. Besides, the addition of black currant means any of the nuance in the Merlot grape used to make the candy would be drowned out by strongly flavoured fruit juice. But hey, saying Merlot sounds SO much different, better and classier than just, like, grape, which makes you think of low-brow grape candies, like lollipops and purple bubble gum.
First there’s the dark chocolate coating, which is nothing special. It’s promptly overpowered by the fruit flavoured jelly core, which opens with juicy grape, then promptly veers into black currant country as it heats and dissolves. It’s tangy and sharp, with an intensely floral character that swells as the chocolate melts away, then lingers until it gradually fades back and lets the grape emerge again for the curtain call. It’s honestly quite nice.
Cough, Cough …
One of the unexpected things about these little chocolates is that if I have more than three or so in a short amount of time, it tickles my through in a way that can trigger a cough. In the Before Times, that would have been annoying enough. Now, when we’re all masked up and casting sideway glances at anyone who even stifles a cough across a football field, this is a more problematic trait for a candy to have.
Price: $4.99 per 210 gram bag at Shoppers Drug Mart in downtown Edmonton.
Value for Money: Fine, as long as you pace yourself and leave some for later.
Calories: 170 calories per 40 grams (16 pieces). Given the size of the bag, that maths out to just shy of 900 calories per bag.
Availability: Here and there. Check pharmacy chocolate aisles, grocery store bagged candy sections, etc.
Verdict: Enjoyably intense, but best nibbled on only one or two at a time. Tuck a bag in your desk drawer next to the pad of post-its once you’re allowed to return to your office.