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In Good Taste

Sip or Treat: Halloween Wine Pairings

Sip or Treat: Halloween Wine Pairings

Candy is Dandy, but Wine is Divine.

Does your Halloween game plan include a wine opener? Of course it does. Wine expands many pleasures, including the passing of candy to costumed cuties. Enjoying good wine makes hearing the doorbell ring equal a definite reason to toast! 

From setting the course with a sparkling wine or prosecco, cruising on to a dry white wine or chardonnay, to triumph in flight with a cabernet sauvignon or dry red wine, the right wine pairing perfectly highlights the abundance of candy which is the hallmark of Halloween success.

Why not be the friendly sommelier this season, and the perfect wine glas will be the only costume prop needed. Just set up the ultimate charcuterie board, and invite a few good friends over to share in the wine tasting and candy pairing. With good friends, good music and perhaps a wine tasting wheel, you can have great conversations and even sound almost like wine experts

As you know, some grapes like Pinot and Zinfandel can be vinted as a wide range of wines, including light-bodied white wines, full-bodied dry red wines and sweet late harvest wines. The ripeness of the grapes when harvested can impart tremendous variety to the flavor.

So rather than hoping a wine pairing chart will match the candy at hand with a suitable wine, let’s select the seasonal wines and personal favorites, and inform our candy selections accordingly.

Let’s start our wine pairings!

Light White Wines

The refreshingly amiable flavors of chilled Prosecco, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc are ideal for the intense burst of fruit in Skittles or pumpkin spice cookies and candies. These lighter bodied, crisp and vibrant wines’ citrus flavors ideally complement pure, fruity flavored candies.

We like the pumpkin spice wine spritzers that blend four ounces of white wine with one ounce pumpkin spice liquor and a splash of seltzer. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and it’s a holiday in a glass!

Light White Wines
Light White Wines Pair with Pumpkin Spice Cookies and Skittles

Full White Wines

Chardonnay is the king of white wines, beloved for it’s bold green apple, melon and citrus flavors. It can enjoy a vanilla fragrance from the oak barrel or seem buttery when unoaked. Viognier, “vee-own-yay” with delicious aromas of peach, tangerine and honeysuckle delivers a satisfying oily sensation to the middle of the tongue. Full-bodied white wines including white blends have a higher alcohol content, generally 13.5% or more, and have more complex flavors than the light bodied white wines.

These bold clean wines stand up to the textures of classic Halloween favorites like the ever- popular popcorn hand with candy corn fingers, Starburst, Milky Way and Swedish Fish. 

Full-Bodied White Wines
Full-Bodied White Wines pair well with Swedish Fish, Popcorn, Starburst, Milky Way and Candy Corn

Rosé Wines

Rosé may be the oldest known type of wine, as ancient wine making processes lacked the more efficient wine presses that modern wines enjoy. While the grape skins and seeds are allowed to remain in the crushed grape juice “must”  for the first several hours of soaking before fermentation, this solid pomace is removed before the tannins mature to a full character as in red wine. This develops a fresh, light and fruity flavored wine with tastes of red fruits including strawberries, cherries, raspberries, melons, flowers and even celery. Rosé wines can be sweet, savory or quite dry depending on the blend of grapes used. In California rosés are typically single varietal and made with 100% pinot noir grapes, but internationally, rosé wines are usually made with a blend of grapes.

These fruity wines are ideal for combining with the fun flavors of Gummy Worms, Pop Rocks, Skittles and Starburst.

Rose Wines
Rose Wines are great with light fruit-flavored candies like gummi worms, skittles, pop rocks and starburst

Light Red Wines

Sometimes you just can’t judge a book by its cover, or a red wine by its color. While wines under 12.5% alcohol are said to be light-bodied and full bodied wines are typically defined by their very dark red color, the deep red Barbera wines are lighter than the eye might suggest. This dry, light red wine has less mouth drying tannin than similarly colored full body wines. The sweeter, light bodied Pinot Noir is known for a balanced medium acidity and low to medium tannins. Its cousin, Gamay has similar flavors of dark cherries, red currants, and berries, with delicate floral aromas - rather than the hints of vanilla, spice, chocolate, tobacco, and oak familiar to Pinot Noir.

Fall wines including pumpkin wine are creating a sensation, and this is a great time to make a pumpkin spice mulled wine also known as Glühwein, or a traditional holiday Gløgg.

Be sure to stay hydrated as you enjoy alcoholic beverages by keeping a glass of water on hand to help avoid waking up tomorrow with a hangover. Experts recommend matching 1 to 1 - glass of water per glass of alcohol. We also recommend our Fall Sangria recipe with Grenache, as a refreshing beverage served over ice.

Light bodied red wine is ideal for pairing with Milk Chocolate Hershey’s Kisses, Kit Kats and Twix. Chocolate is shown to include small quantities of the influential love chemical known as PEA, phenethylamine, which triggers the release of pleasurable compounds known as endorphins. Clearly this is a winning combination for Date Night! 

Light Red Wines
Light Red Wines pair well with milk chocolate and nougat

Medium-Full Red Wines

With a higher alcohol percentage and high mouth coating density, fuller bodied wines like  Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Cab Sav, Mourvedre, Merlot and Zinfandel step up for a satisfying mouthfeel. Let’s pull out the big guns and savor these wines with the best chocolate on hand! 

Some full bodied reds, like Tempranillo (Tem-prah-NEE-yoh) from the Spanish word ‘temprano’, meaning ‘early’ can be enjoyed young - with delightful red fruit and jam tones, or aged in oak barrels to develop more complex aromas including vanilla, toast and even meaty nuances. This type of wine is often called by other names, which dilutes name recognition. Abundante, Cencibel, Tinto de Madrid, Tinta del País, Tinta de Toro, Tinto Fino and Ull de Llebre are all synonyms for the Tempranillo grape.

Slow aging Mourvedre black grapes generally produce wine that is fairly tannic and high in alcohol, so it’s one of the most popular grape varieties included in blended red wines.

The big bold taste of Cabernet Sauvignon makes it the most popular of red wines. This is a dry wine with plenty of tannins to evolve the flavor in the bottle. This plus the high acidity and alcohol content makes Cab Sav a more satisfying experience when drunk with food rather than alone. It’s an excellent wine to complement the pure chocolate flavor of a Hershey Bar or M&Ms. 

The full bodied flavor of Merlot complements a darker chocolate candy like York Peppermint Patties, while Tempranillo can be ideal for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. When you’re enjoying the mellowed mouthfeel of a full-bodied and aged Sangiovese, the prominent flavor serves well with a nutty Snickers bar. 

Yes, with the complexities of a full bodied red wine, we recommend enjoying classic chocolate candies, whether you indulge in the finer chocolates or imbibe with the trick or treat selections.  

Full-Bodied Red Wines
Dark Wines paired with Dark Chocolate

We recognize the abundance of choices available, and some candy connoisseurs will necessarily go rogue - perhaps eating gummy bears with a light red wine. You’ll have plenty of chances to experiment this holiday season, and being more familiar with wines is an excellent way to discern which are the best wine choices to pair with your holiday meals. Enjoy!

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