Halloween Candy and Wine Pairings Unwrapped
Written by Missa Capozzo, Director of Sommology on September 28, 2017
While it might not be standard practice (in polite company) to devour a bag of candy while drinking wine, Halloween is an exception! From red wine and mini Twix to Gummi Bears and Chardonnay, the candy plus wine thing is lit like a jack-o-lantern on October 31. Did you just stop reading to add “mini Twix” to your grocery list? Great! Because our Director of Sommology, Missa Capozzo, has done the delicious work of taste-testing a variety of Halloween candy with a dozen wine varietals to find out which pairings will treat and which ones will trick. Here’s what her research unwrapped.
Drinking Wine and Eating Candy with Missa
When it comes to Halloween candy and wine pairings, the traditional rules of pairing don’t always apply. To be absolutely sure I was suggesting favorable pairings, I took it upon myself to gather a handful of friends, a metric ton of Halloween candy, and about a dozen different Traveling Vineyard wines—and we went to town. There were some delightful surprises!
Pairing our 2014 Zeffer Hills Chardonnay, Monterey, California, for example, yielded unexpected results. Typically, sweet foods do not pair well with a dry white wine like Chardonnay. While I did find this tenet to be true for super-sweet candy like candy corn (which left a bitter taste), it was not true for two beloved Halloween staples, Almond Joy and Mounds. The coconut completely dominated the sugar and the chocolate, and matched beautifully with Chardonnay! I enjoyed the dark chocolate of the Mounds slightly better than the milk chocolate of Almond Joy, but I found both to be very pleasing pairings! As a runner-up, Butterfinger was delightful with Chardonnay—and what is Halloween without Butterfinger?
Off-dry whites are somewhat easier to pair with candy because they have detectable residual sugar and won’t clash with the sweetness of the candy. Our off-dry 2015 Calamity Sue Riesling, Lake County, California, was a big hit with fruit-flavored candy, including Starburst and Twizzlers.
Red wines are notoriously delicious with dark chocolate—and often milk chocolate. But, I wanted to dig deep and find those matches that would absolutely wow your palate. (It’s a tough job, but someone had to do it!)
Where are our Reese’s lovers? Our 2015 Marula Pinotage, Western Cape, South Africa was absolutely amazing with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! This is one of those pairings that will make you stop and savor every delicious second. As honorable mentions, we found that Marula was also very pleasing with Coffee Nut M&M’s, Good & Plenty and black licorice.
Smooth and refreshing Junior Mints and York Peppermint Patties were equally wonderful with our 2016 State Room Cabernet Sauvignon, South Africa, and our 2015 Tria Syrah, Lodi, California. Both varietals often display notes of eucalyptus and even sometimes mint, which makes them perfect for peppermint and dark chocolate. In addition to the peppermint-flavored candy, Good & Plenty and black licorice were a home run with Tria—a beautiful way to extract the notes of anise that a Syrah often displays.
Who doesn’t love Kit Kat? In my quest to find the perfect pairing for this popular Halloween treat, I paired it with every red wine I had in front of me. The winner was hands down our 2014 Tanglerose Backyard Red, Lodi, California. This blend of six red grapes was a true home run when paired with Kit Kat. Love Milky Way Dark and Three Musketeers? They both made it as honorable mentions with Tanglerose BYR.
2016 Scusami Nero d’Avola/Merlot, Terre Siciliane IGT, Italy, paired nicely with quite a few selections of the chocolate persuasion! At the top of the list were Twix, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Coffee Nut M&M’s, and Hershey’s milk chocolate.
Let’s talk M&M’s. These days they offer every flavor you can imagine! I was curious to find which wine would pair fabulously with the original plain chocolate M&M’s and dark chocolate M&M’s. The winner was 2016 Convict’s Reward Pinot Noir, South Eastern Australia. Smooth, fruit-forward, with very soft tannins, Convict’s Reward paired fantastically with the simplicity of the plain or dark chocolate M&M’s.
Last, but not least, I wanted to find some perfect matches for our serious sweet tooths out there! Our fun and fizzy Fissata was a delight to match the sugary kick of Skittles, Twizzlers, Hershey’s milk chocolate, and plain and dark chocolate M&M’s!
Whether you’re strategically planning a Halloween candy and wine tasting party with Traveling Vineyard, or raiding the kids’ Halloween candy, we have a wine that will make your moment of indulgence that much sweeter.
What’s your favorite Halloween candy? Tell us on Facebook! And, be sure to show us your candy and wine pairings on Instagram with the hashtag #travelingvineyard!