Whether it’s the bag full of candy your child brought home or everything you didn’t hand out to trick or treaters, there is always plenty of goodies on hand around Halloween. But how can you turn binging on mini Snickers, bags of gummies, and lollipops into a more refined proposition? By pairing your sweets with a nice glass (or two of wine), of course. For recommendations, we turned to Winn Roberton, head sommelier of Bourbon Steak in Washington, D.C. and Higor Valle, sommelier of the Continental in Naples, Florida. Read on to uncork their pairing suggestions for 10 classic Halloween candies.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
For this sweet ‘n’ salty confection, Valle recommends a balanced, medium bodied Malbec that steers clear of being too jammy, because the acidity will slice through the richness of the peanut butter.
York Peppermint Patty
“This might be the toughest candy to pair,” says Roberton. “The chocolate is there, but it’s thin. And then there are all those high tone menthol tones.” He ultimately decided on a demi-sec Champagne, because the bubbles will match and heighten the mint flavors, while cutting through the creamy, waxy texture of the patty.
The brightly colored fruit candies have a pleasantly sour undertone, so Valle recommends a Gewürztraminer to match them with bright acidic tones and a floral element. “Get one with body that has plenty of citrus and lychee going on, like a nice bottle from Alsace,” he says.
“You need something with some age on it,” says Roberton, who endorses a 20-30-year-old tawny Port for this pairing. “It’s burnt wood flavor will match up a bit.”
Choose a Brachetto with a little bit of fizziness advises Valle. “It’s less sweet and has more acidity,” he says. “The strawberry and cherry tones will amplify the flavor of the candy.”
Roberton recommends Port, because of all its nut and caramel flavors. Try “a 10-20-year-old with more fruit happening,” he says, “which will pair up nicely with the richness in the middle of the bar.”
Madeira is the way to go, according to Valle. “It has this fig quality and is rich with raisin notes,” he says. “That goes well with the chocolate.”
“Let’s be honest, they taste like crayons with sugar added,” says Roberton. He recommends a Sauterne from Napa full of golden fruit flavors to stand up against the saccharine onslaught and the waxy texture.
Go for a New World Grenache, either from Australia or California, instructs Valle. “It’ll have a sweet fruit flavor profile and enough body to hold up against the lollipop shell and the Tootsie center.”
Roberton believes green Chartreuse would be a fun matchup. “It’s full of citrus peel notes and all those unknown ingredients that are slightly bitter or herbal,” he says. “The green is a little less sweet than the yellow, so it won’t be too brooding a mouthfeel.”