From the very first days Rieko Wada opened her Chocolatine’s shop in Schaumburg, Ill. in 2006, the chocolatier focused on mixing artistic expressions, her Japanese heritage, perfectionism and chocolate to create unique confections.
Whether it was her Jewel Collection — chocolate gems complete with an edible sugar diamond in the center of each one — or her Vibrant Truffle Palette — brightly colored chocolates meant to resemble paint — the French Pastry School graduate has demonstrated an extraordinary skill in creating edible art.
Her latest creation, the chocolate-covered wine/champagne bottle combines two indulgent passions, eating chocolate and drinking wine or champagne, into one unforgettable gift. As Wada tells the story, about three years ago, a client came to her wanting to surprise her mother, who was going to turn 90 years old, with a special gift.
In finding out from the customer that the mother enjoyed both chocolate and champagne, Wada suggested that the daughter provide her with a bottle of champagne so she could enrobe it in chocolate topped with fruits and nuts.
The labor-intensive process involves wrapping the bottle first in a clear plastic wrap. After wrapping, the wine or champagne bottle is dipped in dark chocolate. To create an appropriate shell, the bottle receives six coats of chocolate.
During the first coat, Wada places a thin ribbon from one side of the bottle to the other side. This is done to ensure a clean split of the chocolate shell once all the coats are applied. After the fifth coat of chocolate is applied, Wada selects a variety of fruits and nuts to place around the bottle when the sixth coat is applied.
Once dried, the wine in a chocolate bottle gift is wrapped in a transparent plastic and finished off with a Chocolatine ribbon.
Wada says that she can prep 10 bottles with five coats in two hours. The final sixth coat is applied when a customer specifies what kind of nuts, fruit and/or candies he or she wants on the bottle. Depending upon whether the customer supplies the wine or champagne, retail prices for the double indulgence novelty gift range from $40 to $70.
Wada’s chocolates have been included in gift bags at the Grammy’s, the Oscars, the Emmys, the Golden Globes as well as the Cannes Film Festival. She also creates chocolates for hotels, airlines, corporate events, and weddings, as well as for charity events such as fashion shows.
Wada also makes chocolate-dipped bacon; chocolate-covered fruit; a selection of bark, including matcha green tea and sesame bark; and brandy cherries, made by soaking hand-picked cherries in brandy for more than eight months. All candy is made is made on the shop’s on-site kitchen connected to the retail shop.
She also sells her chocolates to Japan at high-end department stores and boutiques and is in the process of expanding the company’s production area. For more information, visit www.chocolatines.com.