Sweet and Scary

Here's What Wine to Pair with That Halloween Candy

We asked a couple experts what goes best with candy corn, Snickers, and other treats.

By Joanna O'Leary

A bottle of white ... a couple of Sweetarts ...

Image: Jerry Levy

Trix may be for kids, but tricks (and treats, natch), should be enjoyed by all on Halloween, especially during a time in which cavorting around town in your costume might not be in the cards. And celebrating All Hallow’s Eve at your house can be just as sweet, especially if you indulge in some vino along with that candy. But does shiraz go with Snickers? Or pinotage with Reese’s pieces? Willy Wonka could not be reached to provide commentary on his preferred pairings, but fortunately three H-Town-area wine experts were available to tell us how to complement those Halloween confections. 

Cyrus Tolman, certified wine specialist and wine buyer at Houston Wine Merchant, advises consumers to pair wine and candy to complement one another equally. For example, if one is pairing a sweet riesling with dark chocolate, the bitterer the chocolate, the sweeter the riesling should be to handle the intensity of the dark chocolate.

Because Tolman is asked "more often than one would expect" about candy and wine, this year he has designed some specific pairings. For candy corn, Tolman recommends Vigilance chardonnay, which has bold, buttery, and oaky characteristics on par with the candy’s intense flavor, as well as notes of citrus that will cut through its richness. Peanut butter cup enthusiasts should sip some Fortress cabernet sauvignon, whose tannins will match the fat of the nut butter and whose full dark-fruit aromas will add a welcome complexity. Finally, lovers of sour gummies should try Peter Lauer “Barrel X” riesling to balance the mouth-puckering aspect of that candy with this varietal’s dry, yet sugary quality. 

Ryan Levy, Cordon Bleu-trained chef and co-owner of Houston’s NICE Winery, has an encyclopedic knowledge of fine food and drink, but the winemaker has also devoted some serious thought to Halloween candy and counts gummy coke bottles among his favorites. What would he drink with this confection?

"Our newest vintage, 'Gratitude,' is a red blend that gives off those dark cola notes on the palate," he says. "Gratitude would also be terrific with chocolate or cherry-flavored candies." For tart candies like bottle caps, runts, or smarties, Levy suggests something with complementary acidity and citrus, such as NICE’s Texas Blanc du Bois.

Karen Bonarrigo, co-owner of Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, recommends intricate dessert wines, such as tawny port, for Milky Ways, Snickers, and other chocolate bars layered with nougat, caramel, and/or nuts. Chocolates with lighter and airier fillings, such York Peppermint Patties, can be “delightfully flexible" with various white dessert wines and ruby ports.

"If you are a white port or late-harvest dessert wine-lover," Bonarrigo advises, "then our Orange Muscat Mistella’s fortified and juicy mouthfeel is ideal to complement the filling elements. Fruit-forward candies like Skittles in turn work best with dry wines, such as a sparkling rosé."

Thirsty yet? We thought so. Grab your glass, your goodies, and maybe your resident ghoul, and settle in for a most happy Halloween, home edition. 

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