Consumer Reports test chocolates and wine

February 9, 2011 4:53:18 AM PST
Valentine's Day is less than a week away and, if you haven't yet figured out the perfect gift for your sweetheart, we have some ideas.

Consumer Reports rated 29 boxes of chocolate ranging in price from five dollars all the way up to more than a hundred. Not surprisingly, they found big differences in taste and quality.

"The more expensive chocolates tended to be smooth in texture and melt in your mouth, whereas the cheaper chocolates were a bit gritty," said Ellen Klosz of Consumer Reports.

The best chocolates had fresh nuts or fruit. In the cheaper boxes, artificial flavors and even stale ingredients were more common.

In all, 12 assortments rated "Excellent" - but they'll cost you.

One of the best - the Norman Love Confections - cost about $50 for a 12 ounce box.

"The fillings are unusual, they're not traditional. You have key lime, passion fruit, and even peanut butter and jelly," said Klosz.

Consumer Reports also found some "Best Buys" that aren't quite as good but cost much less, including See's Assorted Chocolates, at $16 per pound and the Ferrero Collection Fine Assorted Confections which run about $9 for about nine ounces.

Consumer Reports also looked at 16 bottles of sparkling rosé wine, costing from $12 a bottle all the way up to more than $60.

"They evaluate the individual attributes, like sweetness and complexity and balance, and they put it together and come up with an overall score," said Adam Kaplan of Consumer Reports.

Testers also looked for a lot of small, lingering bubbles. It turns out two $12 sparkling wines came out on top, doing better than a $64 bottle!

The first, De Bortoli Emeri Pink Moscato, has a vivid, mouth-filling, fruity style balanced with some sweetness. The Korbel Brut Rosé has well-balanced citrus, pear, and apple flavors and also a slight sweetness.

If you want to skip the pink and go with traditional sparkling wine, Consumer Reports has two to recommend - Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut and Mumm Napa Brut Prestige both rated "Very Good" and will cost you less than $20.