wine gums

wine gums

I don’t get it. Why are these called wine gums?

According to Wikipedia, it’s because the flavors are “similar to the experience of savoring a fine wine”.

You know, I like gummy candies. A lot. And I like wine too. But I see zero connection between the two. Zilch. I bought these a while back in London, intrigued by the little words on each one: port, claret, chablis, rioja, and gin…with apologies to my British friends, I don’t think qualifies as wine.

And what is ‘hook’?

So there I was, this afternoon, scavenging for something sweet and finally ripped open the bag. After picking through and tossing the black (licorice…ick!) and green ones (medicinal…ick!), I did a little searching and found they have quite a cult following. But to me, they don’t compare to the world’s great gummy candies—Chuckles, orange slices, Boston Fruit Slices—or my favorite filling-yankers; Jujubes.

(Ok, and can’t forget Dots, which I used to hold up in front of the screen at the movies before I ate it to make sure I didn’t eat a green one.)

Seriously, what is up with these little fellas?

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  • caroline
    March 6, 2008 12:09pm

    British people have the funniest candies.

  • Matt
    March 6, 2008 12:13pm

    Dots! I’m such a fiend for them. Even the green ones. Even though I know they’re made from a space age polymer, I can’t get enough.

  • March 6, 2008 12:18pm

    Hook = Hock, an old (still current?) British term for German wine. (Derived, if you must know — or even if you mustn’t — from the town of Hochheim in the Rheingau, which has historically been Germany’s most prestigious region. One could quibble about where the best German wines come from these days, but Rheingau still has fantastic growing conditions.)

    Blah blah blah, wine geek, blah blah blah.

  • Flavia
    March 6, 2008 12:26pm

    I love gummy bears !!! but gave up on understanding anything when I saw Coca-Cola gummy bears…I think it is as bad as those wine-related ones…

  • Zoe
    March 6, 2008 12:55pm

    I’m amazed that the black ones were liquorice! Usually with wine gums (Maynards?), the black ones are cassis and are the best (vying only with the reds in my affections). Also, it’s “hock”, not hook – German wine is sometimes referred to as hock.

    I adore wine gums, but mostly for the texture (and the flavour of the reds and blacks). If you let them warm up in your mouth by sucking on them for a while, they’re a truly unctuous squidgy texture. They’re also great for chewing during takeoff and landing to make your ears pop :-)

  • March 6, 2008 1:04pm

    Jujubes are the king of gummy candy. If for nothing else, because you taste them the rest of the day as your teeth let go of the residual candy. Gross, but oh so true. :)

  • March 6, 2008 1:08pm

    Derrick: Oops. On further candy inspection, it does say ‘Hock’. Those wacky Brits!

    Zoe: NOOoooo!!!!

    I thought the dark ones were licorice, so I tossed ’em. I love cassis.

    Gotta go fish them out of the trash…

  • March 6, 2008 1:09pm

    I have to agree with Matt, I go for the Dots! I have been known to eat all of the Dots out of the Child’s Play candy mix I give out at Halloween. Those poor little trick or treaters don’t stand a chance at getting any of the Dots in the mix!

  • March 6, 2008 1:36pm

    Hock … what my grandparents used to call German white wine, but no-one does any more. And, yes, you’re right about wine gums not tasting of wine, but they definitely made me feel very grown-up when I was a girl.

    Gummy bears – that’s a pretty odd one, too … a little bit canabalistic. I think we all like the ones we grew up with – but, in truth, they’re all pretty disgusting ;)


  • March 6, 2008 1:36pm

    That’s just weird! We have wine gums in NZ – but they certainly don’t have anything to do with wine. No names printed on them, they are all the same shape – round and come in a tear tube…but like you say there are far better sweets so why bother?!
    I’m happy to eat your black ones though, that is if they’re aniseed?

    March 6, 2008 2:34pm

    Wine Gums are so gross! But my Aussie friends hunt high and low for them every time we leave the states.

    My vote for best gummy candy is either gummy bears or Sour Patch Kids.

  • Jill
    March 6, 2008 3:06pm

    Gummy bears vary too much by brand. I want intense flavor and good chew that lasts a while in my mouth. Dots aren’t flavored strong enough although I do like the chew. I’ve had enough good gummy bears to be optimistic that I’ll have a good brand. I try and I try and I try….

    Sour Patch Kids– too too sour. I once ate a sour candy that just about made my salivary glands explode. I was actually drooling and couldn’t stop! Sorry. TMI

  • Talia
    March 6, 2008 3:44pm

    My absolute favorite are the sour Haribo gummies candies in Germany. Now, they have these in the US, but they just aren’t the same. The US one have more artificial colors and not enough chew.

    But in Germany, there are the Sour Pommes, and Sour Spaghetti Strings, and Sour Grapefruit…Oh I love that delicious Sauer sugar with the sweet, sticky candy underneath. I need to visit Germany…

  • Lesley
    March 6, 2008 4:01pm

    I can’t see Jujubees without thinking of Elaine from Seinfeld….so funny….
    I agree, black blech.

  • March 6, 2008 4:05pm

    There are some excellent chocolate makers in the SF bay area who make wine fruit pates. Although they’re a different texture than your guys and are delicately covered with sugar, they still leave me just as befuddled as your candies.
    When I asked a rep from one of the chocolate companies why they called them wine fruit pates, the response wasn’t what I expected, which was “because they are made out of the juice from that wine grape”, or… something to that accord. Instead, one company told me that they researched the flavors/scents found in cabernet sauvignon, for example, then instilled the pates with those fruit essenses.
    Why didn’t they use the actual wine grapes of cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay, and etc to make the fruit pates, I wonder. Anyone? What’s up with this “wine” confections…..

  • sophia
    March 6, 2008 4:58pm

    my mouth is watering just by looking at your pic. i love wine gums.

  • Susan
    March 6, 2008 5:04pm

    The Norwegian company Nidar makes anatomically correct (well, as anatomically correct as a soft candy can be) gummy men and women in fruit flavors. “Seigmenn” inspired feminist demands for equal treatment, giving us “Seigdamer”. Haven’t yet opened my package of “soft jelly ladies rolled in sugar — can’t imagine that the candy is as delicious as the packaging!

  • March 6, 2008 5:31pm

    So they don’t taste like the wines? What’s the point? At first glance I thought those were awesome (because I assumed the flavors matched what was written on them…). Now, not so much.

  • March 6, 2008 5:43pm

    OH DOTS!
    I did exactly the same thing at the movies..
    It must be us visual ones have to know what color/flavor we’re eating – No blind tasting for us.
    Oddly enough you can make watercolor paint if you’re desperate from clear gumdrops.
    Just melt them as a binder for your pigment. Since there is both gum arabic and glycerin in gumdrops, just add a spot of honey and voila! You’ve got paint!
    My German roomate brought back Gummie Bears made from REAL fruit juice at Xmas!
    So much healthier don’t you know…

  • March 6, 2008 5:44pm

    This cracks me up. When I first saw this photo, I thought, “Why is David taking pictures of jujubees?” And then I thought, “Is he making these by hand? He really has lost his mind.”

    I’m glad it’s a rant instead.

    I never did understand these when I lived in Britain.

  • March 6, 2008 5:45pm

    I don’t understand the appeal of these either. My mother-in-law had a layover of a few hours at the Frankfurt airport and bought a big box of these (obviously from Duty Free given the size of the box). When she came home she gave us the box with just a few eaten. Obviously she didn’t like them much either (and she loves everything sugar). I’m with you — my all time fave are Jujubes. Though Jujifruit (sp?) are okay too. My husband’s crazy for Haribo gummy bears or Swedish fish.

  • Brandon
    March 6, 2008 5:45pm

    I must cry foul, because you did not mention the greatest gummy candy on earth. Watermelon Sour Patch Kids. They are much sweeter than the regular SPK’s. They are hard to find, but well worth it if you can.

  • Jennifer
    March 6, 2008 5:46pm

    I’ve always wondered about wine gums…guess I’m not the only one! I might have an answer to one question, though: I think “hook” is supposed to be “hock.”

  • joanne
    March 6, 2008 6:12pm

    I love the black currant flavored pastilles. That’s definitely a British flavor. I hate the black ones too. Licorice has to be also English for me to enjoy, the stuff out here in the States is truly disgusting. Can’t stand the fake cherry ones too. They taste medicinal to me.

  • Joanna
    March 6, 2008 7:06pm

    Oh, the Kosher for Passover citrus slices of my yester-seders. I always loved ’em, but not quite as much as the pillowy soft Sunkist Fruit Gems. J’adore those:

    I think Jujubes taste like soap. Anyone?

  • Leslie
    March 6, 2008 7:12pm

    I live in Canada and they have always been a commonplace candy in my life. I HATED them as a kid but quite love them now, they aren’t as sweet as jujubes and have a very distinct flavour that I can’t get enough of, certainly not wine, but tasty nonetheless.

  • March 6, 2008 7:38pm

    Licorice – Yummy!

  • sharon
    March 6, 2008 7:46pm

    peachios(sp?) rock!!
    Hi David
    xoxo katie & sharon

  • Linda H
    March 6, 2008 7:55pm

    On the subject of plastic as candy, my favorite is the “chocolate” “licorice” “ropes.” They are not chocolate or licorice or a rope.

  • March 6, 2008 8:15pm

    Postcolonial British nostalgia….. that’s the appeal. I ate them as a child….they were unchewable. Loved ’em.

  • Laura
    March 6, 2008 8:43pm

    Wine gums are the best! They are so chewy, and have more subtle flavours than your American gummy bears. Not as sickly sweet either. And the black ones are so the most fab.

  • March 6, 2008 8:44pm

    Where, oh where can a kid grab some of these bizarre wine gums? I’m feeling a bit left out, you see.

  • Jessica
    March 6, 2008 11:06pm

    Yes, jujubes do taste like soap indeed. Yet Jujube is one of our affectionate nicknames for our daughter, go figure. And said daughter and her sister adore what they call Peach-os. Re the Passover candy, only the few, the proud, the insane are lovers of Ring Jells. We count ourselves among them.
    [longtime Francophone/phile now addicted to this site and taking all your recommendations to Paris on the 26th]

  • March 7, 2008 12:21am

    I think Tropical Dots deserve a mention. They were once my favorite gummy treat.

  • March 7, 2008 1:13am

    Ditto about the Maynard black (cassis flavored) wine gums. They are the best. I wish they made a bag with only the black ones. You really need to try them before you decide wine gums are gross…

  • March 7, 2008 2:30am

    ohh I LOVE gummy candy…and now that I’ve moved back to Malaysia you can’t really find the good stuff…orange slices are the best!!

  • March 7, 2008 3:13am

    I used to L-O-V-E jujubees! and if I remember correctly I nearly lost a few fillings in the process…. but the Haribo gummie bears are the hands down best best best in the world :)

  • March 7, 2008 3:54am

    Apparently gummy bears can be used for making fake fingerprints (for when you want to hold up your local post office or some such, I believe).

    Jujubes are also used in Korean cuisine – but not the squishy sugar sort. In Korea they are some sort of dried fruit, kind of like a small reddish date.

  • Charlotte
    March 7, 2008 6:58am

    These strike me as being a bit like candy cigarettes, a way for kids to feign adulthood. I don’t like any gummy kind of candy so I wouldn’t like these, but I do love the shapes & color and the fact that they have words printed on them (which also strikes me as very English). I don’t remember them from when I lived there; but they do remind me of “Travel Sweets” which are just hard candies packed in a tin, and which always seems like a funny name.

  • March 7, 2008 8:49am

    The reason for calling them wine gums is that the flavours are to be savoured like wine, you feel it all in your mouth and you salivate like a mofo, especially when you get the lime one, (green- ew)!

    Dunno about the liquorice one though… Maynard’s black one is blackcurrant, probably the best wine gum flavour out there. Think you missed out dude.

  • Tags
    March 7, 2008 10:39am

    Don’t forget these are the same people who want to mix cocoa and crisco and call it… chocolate.

    But, really, it’s getting so you can hardly taste the difference between the Medoc licorice and the St-Emilion. It all tastes like Pomerol anymore.

  • TARA
    March 7, 2008 11:19am

    Wow! I’m hooked on your blog because you’re a chocophile, and here I find out you’re a closet gummy candy man. Ugh. I think all of it is nothing more than petrified jello. Double yuck.

    Bring back the chocolate!

  • March 7, 2008 12:25pm

    british people are wacky.

    i love dots, but i think my all time favorite gummy candy is the jujyfruit. i don’t know how i escaped childhood with no cavities.

    michelle @ TNS

  • March 7, 2008 1:27pm

    Don’t forget those candies from Hickory Farms that came in whiskey sour and other hideous flavors. They weren’t gummies though, they were hard. But not’hard’ like hard sauce; too bad.

  • March 7, 2008 2:39pm

    I don’t get the wine gums thing either. For me it’s all about the Swedish Fish. Love those candies.

  • March 7, 2008 2:52pm

    They have wine gums here (Germany), but I’ve never felt inclined to try them. Gummi bears on the other hand, now that’s a different story all together. Or my favorites, these wonderful sour apple rings coated with those sour crystal things…mmm.

  • March 7, 2008 3:03pm

    nyc/caribbean ragazza: I love Swedish fish too…but only the red ones!

  • hag
    March 7, 2008 4:43pm

    When I was a kid I used to love wine gums, and bought them all the time. But, then I am Canadian.
    [ kind of British ]
    I agree they do not taste like wine at all! I love the fact that these ones have the names of the wines on them…pretty fancy.

  • georgie
    March 7, 2008 4:47pm

    Zotz,orange slices and those Butterfinger like little candies that were called something like Chicken Bones. Brown and Haley Mountain Bars. Don’t care for Gummi candy.

  • March 7, 2008 4:48pm

    the black ones are supposed to taste of blackcurrant not liquorice! as a brit i grew up on these things and spend my time in duty free stocking up on these and liquorice allsorts. personally i have to say that i find the american jelly sweets lack taste. each to their own though!next time your in london go for the haribo sweets!

  • Tags
    March 8, 2008 3:06am

    What kind of wine gum goes with Swedish Fish?

  • March 8, 2008 5:50am

    Never heard of these before. I cant decide from all the comments if I want to try them or run in fear from them…haha

  • March 8, 2008 12:17pm

    And the green ones are supposed to be Lime! Funny, I never knew why they were called wine gums.

    I think what kind of sweets (candies)one like really has to do with where one grew up.

    I like wine gums (but prefer fruit pastilles), but I don’t like any of the gummy sweets you mentioned as they’re tooooooooo sweet. In fact, I find many US candies are way too sweet for my palate and the same goes for most of my Irish or British friends.

  • Kathy
    March 8, 2008 2:57pm

    I’ll go with Rossini on this one, since I don’t prefer my wine in pill form, either.

  • March 8, 2008 7:04pm

    You probably had to have them forced on you as a kid to have any kind of affection for them – kind of ‘learn to love them’ rather than ‘wow these are great!’ :-) I can’t imagine any young ‘uns voluntarily picking them when there are so many other tempting goodies around. I always preferred Rowntree’s wine gums myself – we got them as a treat on long road trips, so fond memories there… But my absolute favourite nostalgia sweets would be acid drops or ‘rhubarb and custards’ – both excellent examples of the the British boiled sweet. (But being British, I’m just a wee bit biased!)

  • March 8, 2008 10:24pm

    I loooooove WineGums. They remind me of an ex-beau of mine who was from the UK, and whose mum sent us tons of treats he loved as a child. Awwwww…. now I have to go buy some WineGums tomorrow at the import grocer.

  • March 9, 2008 6:14am

    I was thinking about sweets/lollies/candies the other day. I think you develop your taste for the little blighters by the time you are 5 years old, and if you’re lucky, never lose the love.

    This makes for some strange occurrences though – I grew up in Australia hearing about Hershey bars from TV and radio, and my big ambition was to one day taste one. What a disappointment THAT was when it happened! Likewise with Skittles (although I have forced myself to develop a liking for them).

    Love wine gums though. My Grandparents used to send a small packet of them from London occasionally. True, they can’t compete with Callard and Bowser (now sadly R.I.P) which were the height of sophistication, but winegums ARE the flavour of childhood

  • March 9, 2008 10:47am

    I think wine gums are kind of like Nicorette. They allow one to continue with their addiction in an environment that doesn’t condone it. I chew Nicorette all day long and no one says anything to me about it. In other words, I’m practically smoking at work. Perhaps wine gums satisfy the same craving in a different way? Just kidding here of course ;-) Gros Bisous, Ms. Glaze

  • Judy in SATX
    March 10, 2008 9:25am

    Ahh, coming late to the discussion, but I too adore my wine gums. In fact, my sister visiting from Canada will bring me a kilo of Maynards! I love my sister.

    Swedish fish come in second. Though I love all gummies – ju jubes (my big bro calls me Ju Ju Bee), gummie bears, sour patch kids, Dots! – I like the ones that are more chewy and less overwhelmingly sweet.

    I guess you have to grow up with them.

  • Alisa
    March 11, 2008 4:32pm

    The black ones are blackcurrant flavor (the BEST) but the white ones are grapefruit and are nearly as sublime as the blackcurrant ones. I can’t believe you threw them in the trash!

  • March 11, 2008 4:41pm

    Alisa: I know! Once I found out they were blackcurrant, I wanted to dive in the garbage and pick them out!

    I love blackcurrant.

  • Rustig
    March 12, 2008 4:16pm

    They are addictive! You must try the salty dutch liqourice.

  • April 3, 2008 3:35pm

    Please advise: is there a manufacturer of blackcurrant flavoured candy–wine gums or otherwise? Not to be confused with the overly available “berry” and “grape’ flavours, also often purple in colour. I wish they made entire packets of wine gums that are only blackcurrant flavoured….

  • April 9, 2008 5:25pm

    Ive actually sold Hock at the shop where i work, its sold in a slim brown bottle, and the other like it is leiber…something i cant remember what it is. but i am COMPLETELY obsessed with wine gums! ive actually stolen the above picture and pasted into my html on my myspace profile to make my background =)

    and we brits arent crazy! we are aweseome *nods*

    night xxxxx