Halloween Candy Wine Pairings
With Halloween just around the corner, young children are selecting costumes, scoping out neighborhoods and going to sleep with dreams of candy corn, snickers and starbursts dancing in their heads. But, Halloween isn’t just for kids anymore. Grown-ups can have some fun too. Whether you’re noshing as you’re passing out treats, pilfering through your kids’ treat bags, or hosting a Halloween party, try pairing your favorite candies with wines.
Below are some classic confections and recommended wine pairings to get you into the spirit of things on Halloween evening.
Candy corn, that all-time epitome of sweetness, screams for a sugary wine. Think Moscato, a wine that’s perfect for sipping alone, but also goes well with spicy or sweet foods. The Moscato-candy corn pairing is recommended by Karen MacNeil, author of “The Wine Bible.” MacNeil says this combo is like “Candyland on steroids; the sugar in the candy amps up the fruitiness of the Moscato. Both taste better as a result.”
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
The options are many: Port wine, a bone-dry Lambrusco, or even an oaky, buttery Chardonnay. Carl Chargois, vice chairman of judging on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ Winery Relations Committee says, “Taking a salty and sweet approach, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups might go well with Lustau East India Sherry or Lustau Amontillado. The slightly salty, briny peanut butter, with the creamy milk chocolate and the caramel notes along with orange peel flavors of the sherry work. It should taste a bit like a Snickers Bar with a kick. I would also attempt this same kind of pairing with other nut & chocolate bars like Mr. Goodbar, Chunky (the raisins would add another dimension), O Henry, Take 5 (the pretzels add a little more salt) and others.”
One bite of a snickers bar, with flavors of nougat, chocolate, caramel, and nuts, will send you to candy Nirvana. So why not go to wine Nirvana with a luxurious champagne? Champagne, after all, goes with everything. This pairing is a universal favorite: the bubbly balances out the richness, the fruity flavors highlight the caramel and nougat, while the acidity will help cut through the rich textures and flavors.
Skittles and wines both offer a cornucopia of berry flavors, so wine is a natural partner. But which wine? Several wine experts suggest Sauvignon Blanc, as the zesty fruit brings out the flavors of the candy, and the tart acidity highlights the sour flavors and balances the sweet. “This pairing just works,” says Joel Caruso, a sommelier and U.S. brand ambassador for the wine app, Vivino. “It’s so similar it’s like bringing sand to the beach.”
The Vivino app recommends Zinfandel as a good pairing for Hershey’s Kisses. Laura Burgess, Certified Sommelier and wine writer, says “The best wine contrasts creamy milk chocolate with ripe berry flavors. America’s sweetheart, Zinfandel, turns every bite into a raspberry cordial on the palate.” Yummm.
For Butterfinger, Chardonnay seems to be a hands-down favorite among wine experts. A full-bodied Chardonnay gives a Butterfinger a deeper, richer flavor. And, says “Wine Bible” author Karen MacNeil, “Despite the thin layer of chocolate, Butterfinger bars are fairly one-dimensional. As the name suggests, it tastes like butterscotch. Pair with a medium-bodied chardonnay that has a streak of fat-cutting acid.”
Back in the day, many of us gorged ourselves with Whoppers at the movie theater. And today, we do it again with those little miniature boxes that we hand out on Halloween. The only thing that can make a mouthful of Whoppers better is a glass of bold Cabernet Sauvignon to go with it. The huge malty character of Whoppers needs a wine with backbone and depth to keep from being overpowered by the malt and chocolate. That would definitely be a Cabernet.
These recommendations are just a few suggested by wine experts from around the country. As you might expect, the fruity candies tend to pair better with white wines, while chocolate-y treats work better with reds, but pairings can be all over the place. If you feel adventurous, try these combos: Twizzlers and Pinot Noir, Twix and Syrah, Starburst and Rosé, Gummy Bears and Pinot Grigio, Nerds and Riesling, M&Ms and Port, and Jolly Ranchers and Gewürztraminer. Not only will you be expanding your culinary horizons, but you will be kicking up your Halloween fun a notch.