Wine snobs may turn up their nose at the idea of pairing candy and wine, but when you think about it, candy is pretty perfect for it. From caramel notes to vanilla flavors, candy can actually bring out some unique characteristics in wine. Brahm Callahan, MS, Beverage Director of Himmel Hospitality Group and Ribera y Rueda ambassador, agrees. “Candy and wine aren’t exactly a classic pairing, but there a couple “out there” pairings that actually work. Plus this will give you something to do with all that candy that you hide from your kids after Halloween.”
The trick is to pick a candy what will highlight specific flavors in the wine to offset the intense flavor of the candy. For example, a citrus-forward wine with accents of lemon and acid will actually make sour candy taste better. And dry sparkling wine will enhance the malty chocolate flavor of candy like Whoppers. Ditto for sugary-sweet candy like Nerds and jelly fruit snacks. You’ll want to sip a wine that can wrangle in that sugar with a bit of acid and lighten it with bubbles.
Ready to raid the candy bin? Here are Callahan’s ultimate candy and wine pairings for the season.
Cherry Blow Pops
“Sweet ripe cherry needs to be balanced out by some bright acidity and lush fruit. A great pairing would be the Traslacuestas Roble 2014 from Ribera del Duero. The lush red and black fruit still pops with some bright acidity and subtle baking spices from a small amount of new oak.”
Sour Patch Kids
“Tart and tangy with a sweet finish, these are best with a wine driven by lots of ripe citrus. I would recommend the Finca Montepedroso 2014 from Rueda. This wine is driven by ripe lemon, grapefruit, and apple that will offset the sour notes of the candy but with balanced acidity to refresh when you get to the sweetness of the sour patch kids.”
“Great with champagne, the creamy malted milk ball is sweet but also rich and the acidity in a classic blanc de blancs will refresh the sweetness while pairing off those creamy notes and mouthfeel, I like Champagne Ayala, Blanc de Blancs 2008.”
“Man, I love the sweet crunchy candy and that creamy nutty flavor balanced by sweet chocolate, great with white Burgundy, I would recommend Henri Boillot’s Bourgogne Blanc 2015 — it is rich, creamy and has a great nutty component.”
“Caramel and creamy chocolate — this needs Riesling, but with a little bit of sweetness. I love Dr. Loosen’s Urziger Wurzgarten Spatlese 2014—it’s got notes of honey, saffron, ginger and ripe stone fruit but piercing acidity so you have a perfect balance between sweet and tart.”
Hershey’s Chocolate Bar
“It is a classic and simple candy, and the best pairing is a classic — vintage port. The ripe lush red fruits, lifted ripe blackberries and notes of chocolate and a little bit of sugar all balance out the creaminess of the chocolate bar.”