"Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker," the cinematic candy maker Willy Wonka once pointed out. And with that, a world full of 7-year-olds were scratching their heads wondering what alcohol and candy have in common. Then they shrugged their shoulders and went right on gorging themselves on gummies, lemon drops and jawbreakers.

Three decades (and hundreds of hangovers) later, we get it – especially those of us trying to learn about varietals (types of wines made from a specific variety of grape) from around the world. Liquor is, indeed, too quick sometimes, considering the number of tastings some of us need to finally grasp the complexities. So what do you do when you want your taste buds to learn the distinction between chardonnay and pinot grigio without having to nip from the bottle, over and over?

Candy comes back into the picture a la the Jelly Bean Wine Bar. This joint venture between Jelly Belly, De Loach Vineyards and Wine X magazine captures the taste of varietals sans alcohol by creating "shooters," premixed jelly bean flavor packets to pop in your mouth all at one time. For instance, chew a combo of 1 French vanilla, 2 raspberries, 2 strawberries, 1 cherry, 1 blackberry and 1 pepper to extract the essence of Sangiovese.

The Jelly Belly Wine Bar has shooters (sold in plastic bags or shooter tubes) for the common varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, but also for more unusual grapes, such as Grenache and Semillon. Add a dirt-flavored Bertie Bott to any packet to taste the difference between a French and an American varietal. Possibilities are endless.

As indicated on the website, the prices on the packets drop when bought in bigger quantities. But, tops, figure roughly $1 for a shooter tube when ordering 100 or less. Remember, even after one too many, no hangover.

Jelly Bean Wine Bar

Speaking of On The Side

More by Adrian J.S. Hale


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