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Is there wine in Wine Gums?

Posted on 25th July 2019 by JN Wine

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Is there wine in Wine Gums?

Before we answer the burning question, the question on everyone’s lips, or should that be in their mouth – do Wine Gums contain wine? We should add a little dusting of mystery to proceedings. In 2009 a shop in Cambridgeshire denied a schoolboy the right to purchase these delicious confectionery goods.  Supposedly he was ‘underage’, with the shopkeeper claiming that the sweet did indeed contain alcohol and thus were not suitable for purchase by a child who could not legally consume an alcoholic beverage, let alone an alcoholic jelly sweet!  Imagine the shop keeper’s disappointment when he reads this blog and finds out that there is no alcohol in the curious and vinously named classic British confectionery item.  So, if they aren’t made from wine, nor do they pair particularly well with wine, how did they come to be named Wine Gums??


There are two interesting theories:

Theory one

Simply enough, and according to the description on the sweets packaging “The pleasantly firm texture allows the full fruit flavours to linger – similar to the pleasurable experience of savouring a fine wine.  Some people argue that the firmer than average texture of a Wine Gum is what appeals to a more mature sweet tooth, one could say, a more discerning palate.


Theory two

A more remarkable explanation is that the inventor of wine gums, Charles Gordon Maynard, after hearing a fiery sermon about temperance developed the sweet to aid in the moderation of alcohol. He therefore named them Wine Gums and labelled them with wine names to fill the void in the wine drinker’s life when wine was not for consumption.  Lest we forget, Charles Maynard’s father was a strict tee-totalling Methodist, and this radical new idea in branding almost cost Charles his job at the family confectionary business, a nearly sour end to such a sweet tale!

Maynard’s Wine Gums were eventually approved by Charles’s father and were introduced in 1909. a Debate has raged ever since among lovers of the sweets since about what they taste like. Is it wine or is it fruit? Well they do have a greater depth of flavour than many fruit gums targeted at children and it could be argued that, since they taste of fruit, and wine tastes of fruit, then they taste a little bit like wine, the verdict is still out.


The flavours

Inside the tube or case, each sweet is printed with a word possibly alluding to the flavours the pastille is designed to represent.  The red Wine Gum is often stamped with the word ‘Port;’ could it be that it tastes like Port or merely suggests red –coloured fruit such as raspberry, strawberry and cranberry.  The black Wine Gum, the opinion divider, often stamped with Claret or Rum nods to blackcurrant, liquorice or perhaps grape flavours.  These are flavours we seek out and expect in wine, but is there wine in Wine Gums?  The answer is unfortunately, no.  Can a humble sweet ever have the depth and complexity of a fine wine, again, unfortunately not. Should they be enjoyed with a nostalgic nod to your childhood, most certainly.


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