Photo: Matt Katzenberger, Flickr
Admit it. Every year, you dig into the Halloween candy stash well before trick-or-treat hours begin, right? There's no shame in sampling the sweets -- we all do it. But as long as you're at it, take it up a notch by pairing your candy with a glass of wine. Here are nine suggestions.
Hershey's Milk Chocolate
There's a little bit of cherry tucked into this dark-chocolate bar so an Australian Shiraz is a great match. Choose a Shiraz that's jammy and full of wild-raspberry notes.
Malt's chalky flavor is something you don't want to mess with -- it lingers in your mouth long after you've consumed a few Whoppers. Pinot Noirs from Napa are the perfect fit and won't overpower malt's flavor. Instead, it's a harmonious coupling. Schug 2007 Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa, California, has hints of milk chocolate and assertive bursts of black cherries and plums, offset by a little smoke.
See more pairings after the jump.
You know that tiny bit of effervescence in a Starburst square? French Champagne gets that. It doesn't crowd out that effervescence but mimics it. We tried a couple of juicy Starburst pieces with Nicolas Feuillatte 2004 Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay, France, and, interestingly, the candy's citrus flavor (strawberry and orange, especially) lessened, easing into a soft finish on the palate.
The fruit flavors of lemon and orange are so in-your-face, it's difficult to think of a wine that won't taste terrible with a few Skittles. But Jacob's Creek 2010 Moscato, Australia won us over, going sweet for sweet with the candy. Another sweet white wine, a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand (we tried Goose Bay Winery's 2008 vintage), cut through the astringent citrus flavors in each tiny Skittles sphere.
Milk Chocolate M&Ms
We tried a handful of M&Ms with a few sips of Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina: 2008 Luca, to be exact. Wow. There's already a bit of milk chocolate/malt flavor in most Argentinian Malbecs, which means it pairs appropriately with the chocolate taste mirrored in M&Ms.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup
Paired with Zinfandel -- which some consider the Holy Grail of a fruit-forward red wine -- the two got along quite well. (For the record, and in pursuit of Halloween themes, we chose Sledgehammer 2007 North Coast, California). Jammy and with a smoky bouquet, it's also packed with black-currant notes against a luscious profile. A white-wine alternative would be a buttery Chardonnay from California, to help elongate the finish on this chocolate candy.
With the go-to candy bar we tried a California Cabernet Sauvignon -- 2007 Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve, which sources Cab grapes from three different California counties: Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino. The combination was fantastic; both have soft, sultry flavors.
The honeyed fruit flavors and full body in a bottle of Gewurztraminer make for a swell pairing with a bag of candy corn. An inexpensive, very good option is Robertson Winery 2009 Gewurztraminer, South Africa. Its full body is filled with honeysuckle and floral aromas, and won't mar the candy's off-beat taste.
The flavors inside a Kit Kat are actually quite complex. There's chocolate, of course, but also some toastiness, nuttiness and a crisp finish. A glass of sparkling wine -- whether you splurge on French Champagne or save a few bucks by opting for Spanish Cava or Sonoma sparklers -- adds just as much complexity. Those light, delicate flavors in a bubbly wine are a contrast until you reach an equally crisp finish.
Want more ideas? Check out wine and candy pairings from Holidash.