You ever sit around with a fistful of candy and think, ‘well, I wonder what wine would go with this?!’
Yeah, me neither.
But I loves me a challenge. So for my next wine segment for tv (Wednesday, October 25th (tomorrow!!!) around 8:45 a.m. on Good Day Charlotte – WJZY FOX 46) I will be pairing some of the most popular Halloween candies with yummy, affordable (dry!) wines… all under $20!!
…because dessert wine pairings would be too easy, silly.
And before we get into it, I know I have skimmer-readers out there, so I’ll go ahead and tell you now that I’ve later linked to each wine that I’m presenting (after my initial pairing lesson below), so you can easily grab them from wine.com right from your seat! I’ve also linked to each candy I’m pairing them with, for you to order from amazon.com. So if you haven’t bought your Halloween candy yet, use those links now! You don’t even have to get up… and they’re all fun sized 😉
OK, now. Lemme get to schoolin’ real quick. Here’s the thing about pairing wine with candy… first of all, it sounds strange. And that’s ‘cus it kinda is. But it isn’t impossible, nor is it really weird if you think about it. Y’all know you’re eating your kids’ halloween candy after they go to sleep, and y’all know you be drinkin’ some wine after your kids go to sleep, so now you can feel a little more official about it all. Tell yourself Abbey told you to do it.
But the thing to remember about pairing wine with candy is that you’re still just looking to pair certain flavor notes in the wines with certain flavor notes in the candy… just as you would with food. It’s not just sugar to alcohol here. Every candy has a certain flavor. So there’s not a big difference with the approach. Most wines have sweet and savory pairings to be found within them… you just gotta pay attention to the specific flavors.
For instance, let’s break down a Snickers bar, shall we?
Ok, so you’ve got your milk chocolate… milk chocolate is creamy, it coats your tongue with the fat from the cocoa butter, there’s a mild and round cocoa flavor.
You’ve got nougat… flavors of honey and vanilla, creamy and nutty.
You’ve got your caramel… buttery, slightly nutty and toasty.
And you’ve got your peanuts… salty and nutty.
So this right here tells me I could maybe pair that candy bar with an oaky chardonnay that could mirror the flavors of the vanilla, toasty nuts and butter.
OR I could pair it with a soft cabernet aged in oak barrels with light tannins. Oaky cabs have a strong vanilla flavor and oftentimes notes of sweet cherries. Cherries are an easy match with what you’re tasting in the snickers bar (vanilla, milk chocolate, butter and nuts) so it would make sense in the pairing.
OR I could send you to a cava and let the clean, dry bubbles just wash it all down with no fuss.
And then… Oh, I dunno… off the cuff, I’d say…
Put Starburst with a sparkling rosé… pink and yellow ones specifically because strawberries and lemon zest are common notes in sparkling rosé. Plus, the bubbles help cleanse the creaminess and cloying sweetness of the candy.
OR a soft and juicy pinot noir!
Sour Patch Kids? Off-dry Gewürtztraminer.
Nerds? Try and find a sparkling Riesling from Germany… it’s got that sour then sweet nerdy thing DOWN.
How ’bout peppermints? Like those red and white starlight mints? Try to find a Vermentino… it’s an Italian white wine and most wine stores have it. They’re generally inexpensive too 😉 It’s got more character than a Pinot Grigio, but not quite as many bold flavors as a Sauvignon Blanc. And the bright, but concentrated fruit in the wine does something super fun with the sugary mint.
Also what about that whole sect of spicy cinnamon candies? Hot tamales, red hots, fireballs, etc… I’d pair those like you would a spicy food. Across the board, it’s easy to say high spiced foods (mainly Thai, Vietnamese, Indian spiced foods) pair well with wines in the high fruit/residual sugar category. Like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that was particularly high in tropical fruit notes, or a Riesling (an off-dry style)… perfect pairing!
I think a lot of people when they hear ‘candy and wine pairing’ automatically think it will be red wines with chocolate. Because we do hear a lot of ‘chocolate is great with red wine!’ But honestly, that’s really not a fair statement. First of all, ‘chocolate’ isn’t one thing… nor, is ‘red wine’. Both can be bitter, sweet, sharp, round, bold, light, fruity, dry… The bitterness alone makes it fairly challenging to pair chocolate with red wines. And both red wines and chocolates have strong flavors that can just end up clashing on your palate if you’re not careful.
There’s this rule of thumb in the wine world that says ‘the wine needs to be sweeter than the food, or else the wine will end up tasting bitter in your mouth after you’ve tasted the food’. And yes, that can absolutely happen with a bad pairing, but it isn’t an exclusive rule.
Also I just hate rules, so there.
But here’s why I don’t buy into that particular rule: Many ‘sweet’ wines lack a lot of bitterness and have a more round mouthfeel with a lot of present fruit flavors, and they very rarely are high in tannins. Many dry wines can have those same characteristics… but without the ‘sweet’ to go with it. So… as long as you stick to that category of dry wines, you can still have easy success with your pairings! Just as I mentioned before about the oaky cabernets having lots of round vanilla and cherry flavors… the wine itself isn’t ‘sweet’, but it isn’t bitter or sharp and the flavors you taste are those you’d find in sweet foods.
See? All sorts of candies and foods can find a wine home. You just gotta play around a little and know what you’re lookin’ for 😉
SO. Now that the lesson is over… Here are the wines I’m presenting this Wednesday (tomorrow!!!) on Good Day Charlotte… and the candy to go with them 😉 …
First up is the…
2016 HobNob Wicked Chardonnay from the Southern Coast of France.
You’ve seen this one a lot lately, but it’s so perfect for this time of year! The bottle art is so much fun and perfect for parties. The chardonnay itself is available year round, but this ‘Wicked’ bottle only comes out to play for the Halloween season. It’s just a really solid Chardonnay at this price point. It has enough creaminess and slight caramel flavors to satisfy those who crave that in a chard, but not too much for those of us who don’t. Lots of pineapple and lemon rind flavors.
And I’m pairing this guy with… Candy Corn! Ahh… I know, but I just had to. The wine only being around this time of year… the candy only eaten this time of year… had to do it. Ahh… the mystery that is candy corn… What is it? Why is it? But yet, it is still one of the top selling Halloween candies!! The creamy honey and vanilla aspect to the candy corn really grasps onto those flavors in this chardonnay, and then what you end up tasting in the wine is more of its acidity and citrus notes. It’s a really, really fun pairing. I just love when you pair two things that are similar enough, and then get to notice what flavors were hiding in the background.
The HobNob Wicked Chardonnay is only $10!!!
Purchase the HobNob Chardonnay here on wine.com: HobNob 2014 California Chardonnay – White Wine
And buy yourself a big ole bag of Brach’s Candy Corn packs here on amazon.com: Brach’s Candy Corn Treat Packs, 70 Count
Next we have the…
2016 The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand.
Another familiar one, yeah? Yep, this one is a very popular wine it seems. Especially in our house. It’s bright and fresh with high acidity, notes of tropical fruit, green herbs and lots of minerality. It’s more grassy and citrusy than heavy on the tropical fruits like a lot of this style of wine can be. It’s a solid representation of this beloved style and just a really fun wine.
And I’m pairing this guy with… Skittles!! Yep. We’re tasting that rainbow here. So I’ll get pretty nerdy here and say specifically the green and yellow skittles pair the best with the wine…. but really, they all work! The green and yellow skittles are the lime and lemon flavored ones, so naturally they would help mirror the citrus notes in the wine. You’d be amazed at how smooth these two work together. You’re really able to taste more of the outside flavors in the wine once you’ve taken down a couple skittles.
The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc is $15.
Purchase The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc here on wine.com: Crossings 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – White Wine
And grab yourself a boat load of fun sized Skittles packs here on amazon.com: Skittles Fun Size Approximately 70 Packets 2.5 Pounds
Next up is the…
2016 Josh Cellars Pinot Noir from the Central Coast of California.
So this is a really lovely pinot… especially for the price. It’s a lighter bodied style, fairly juicy… with flavors of strawberries and vanilla, and a bit of cookie spices.
And I decided to pair this easy drinking pinot with good ole Hershey’s Milk Chocolate. Pinot Noirs have so many delicate flavors and nuances, I didn’t want a candy to take away from that too much… so I mirrored the body of the wine with the body of the candy. Because the wine is low in tannins and lighter bodied, it needed something that wasn’t too bold… something equally as smooth. These two go so well together, you’d think you’re eating chocolate covered strawberries.
The Josh Cellars Central Coast Pinot is only $18!!
The Josh Cellars Central Coast Pinot Noir is currently unavailable from wine.com, but you can find it on totalwine.com here: Josh Cellars Pinot Noir
And here’s a fun bag of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars from amazon.com: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Snack Size Bars, 10.35-Ounce Bag
And the final wine on the panel is the…
2015 Skyfall Cabernet from Washington State.
This is a super easy drinking cab, one that really any red wine drinker could enjoy. It’s low on tannins, high on fruit, big on oak… there are flavors of sweet cherries, vanilla, and a bit of cocoa. But it isn’t too concentrated fruity, which is something I’m not particularly fond of in a red wine. There’s a little bit of merlot in there, plus a skosh of syrah for blending. It’s a good one for a nice dinner party when you’re not sure how people’s red wine preferences lie… some people prefer big bold reds, others like softer ones… this one satisfies both!
And I’m pairing this guy with… Twix! Yeeeeaaaah baby. Milk chocolate, buttery cookie, chewy caramel… this is the perfect match for this wine! The oaky, vanilla and mild cocoa flavors latch onto those similar notes found in the candy. It’s a seamless blend.
Purchase the Skyfall Cabernet here on wine.com: Skyfall 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – Red Wine
And get yourself a big bag of mini Twix here on amazon.com: Twix Fun Size Caramel and Chocolate Cookie Bars, 20.62 Ounce
The Skyfall Cabernet is $16.
Whew. And that’s a wrap.
See y’all tomorrow mornin’! WJZY FOX Charlotte – Good Day Charlotte 7-9 am
Happy tasting 😉
(You can also visit the website, winefix.com for any other wine and entertaining tips!)