Halloween is the start to the Holiday season of sweet treats, and the nostalgically bright little morsels of cavity inducing goodness are hard to resist. Maybe it’s that bowl of miniature Snickers that your office receptionist left in a conspicuous bowl to torment you. Or perhaps it’s the stash of candy corn that you’re accidentally acquiring upon each trip to the grocery store. One way or another, Halloween candy is infiltrating our lives whether by force or by choice, and the only way to process this change in routine is to drink on it. Therefore, we’ve compiled a wine-pairing guide for surviving the unhealthy take over of sweet nostalgic treats.
We partnered with Samantha Johnston, Sommelier at Alexander's Steakhouse in Pasadena, California, to round up a stellar wine and candy-pairing guide. Because, after all, scientists agree that at least the wine is good for you, so the two balance themselves out, right?
WINE TO PAIR WITH SWEET FRUITY CANDY
Fresher more fruit forward wines are super versatile for fruity candy pairings. Sparkling rosé , especially Crémant d'Alsace, Crémant de Bourgogne, and Cava Rosato are great pairings with gummy candies like sour gummy bears, gummy worms and Starburst (especially the pink and yellow kind). The strawberry and cherry notes in the wine mirror some of the red fruit flavors in the candy. The refreshing fizz helps to wash the sugar down and clean your palate of the cloying sensation from the candy. I also love pop rocks with sparkling wine. Sounds a little scary at first because they foam up a lot so use caution, but the combo makes for a really fun "grown up" Halloween experience.
WINE TO PAIR WITH CANDY CORN
A well balanced, California-style Chardonnay is a great pairing for candy corn and candy pumpkins. If the wine has seen some oak and/or malolactic fermentation, it will have those buttery and vanilla notes that complement the vanilla flavors in the candy corn. The trick is to pick a Chardonnay that isn’t over oaked or over manipulated so that it retains enough vibrant acidity to cut through the heavy sugars in the candy.
WINE TO PAIR WITH CHOCOLATE WAFERS AND SWEDISH FISH
Look for a serious style Gamay from one of the 10 Crus of Beaujolais, like Fleurie or Morgon (we found a very reasonably priced option for our store). The light bodied red is super versatile with food, but works great with things like Twizzlers and Swedish fish, as the wine complements their bright cherry flavors. I also liked the way the acidity and lifted style pairs with airy wafer chocolate candies like Kit Kat Bars.
WINE TO PAIR WITH REECE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS AND CANDY BARS
A cool climate Syrah from California’s central coast exhibits rich high times fruits which amazingly complements the chocolate in peanut butter cups and candy bars. Nutty, chocolaty candy is best suited for wine that balances the sugar and cream from the milk chocolate and the salt from the peanut buttery elements. Spanish Sherries make a great pairing as they have the strong acidic factor to cut through the fat in the treat, and they also tend to show a nice nutty quality, depending on the aging. German Rieslings also pair well. If the candy bar has coconut, try a Rioja Reserva. The hints of coconut from the American oak is an amazing compliment.
WINE TO PAIR WITH DARK CHOCOLATE
Napa Valley or Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and dark chocolate are an excellent classic pairing. The bitterness in the chocolate is a similar texture to the tannins in the wine. The vanilla flavors in the wine come from the oak aging and this nicely pairs with chocolate as well. Cabernet is actually a wine that is high in acid, which helps cut some of the sugar in the chocolate.
Want more wine and food pairing advice? Check out our wine pairing guide