When it comes to Halloween candy and wine pairings, the traditional rules of pairing don’t always apply. To be absolutely sure I was suggesting favorable pairings, I took it upon myself to gather a handful of friends, a metric ton of Halloween candy, and about a dozen different wines—and we went to town. There were some delightful surprises!
Pairing Chardonnay, for example, yielded unexpected results. Typically, very sweet foods do not pair well with a dry white wine like Chardonnay. While I did find this tenet to be true for super-sweet candy like candy corn (which left a bitter taste), it was not true for two beloved Halloween staples, Almond Joy and Mounds. The coconut completely dominated the sugar and the chocolate, and matched beautifully with Chardonnay! I enjoyed the dark chocolate of the Mounds slightly better than the milk chocolate of Almond Joy, but I found both to be very pleasing pairings! As a runner-up, Butterfinger was delightful with Chardonnay—and what is Halloween without Butterfinger?
Off-dry whites are somewhat easier to pair with candy because they have detectable residual sugar and won’t clash with the sweetness of the candy. Off-dry Riesling was a big hit with fruit-flavored candy, including Starburst and Twizzlers.
Red wines are notoriously delicious with dark chocolate—and often milk chocolate. But, I wanted to dig deep and find those matches that would absolutely wow your palate. (It’s a tough job, but someone had to do it!)
Where are our Reese’s lovers? Pinotage was absolutely amazing with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! This is one of those pairings that will make you stop and savor every delicious second. As honorable mentions, we found that Pinotage was also very pleasing with Coffee Nut M&M’s, Good & Plenty and black licorice.
Smooth and refreshing Junior Mints and York Peppermint Patties were equally wonderful with Cabernet, so I recommend a Cabernet-dominant red blend. Cabernet often displays notes of eucalyptus and even sometimes mint, which makes it perfect for peppermint and dark chocolate.
Spanish Spice! Good & Plenty and black licorice will be home run with Tempranillo/ Garnacha —a beautiful way to extract the notes of anise in these complex yet approachable Spanish blends.
Italian red paired nicely with quite a few selections of the chocolate persuasion! I recommend Montepulciano with Twix, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Coffee Nut M&M’s, and Hershey’s milk chocolate.
Let’s talk M&M’s. These days they offer every flavor you can imagine! I was curious to find which wine would pair fabulously with the original plain chocolate M&M’s and dark chocolate M&M’s. The winner was a smooth fruit-forward red. Try a Côtes du Rhône, which will pair well with the simplicity of the plain or dark chocolate M&M’s.
Last, but not least, I wanted to find some perfect matches for our serious sweet tooths out there! A fun and fizzy Lambrusco was a delight to match the sugary kick of Skittles, Twizzlers, Hershey’s milk chocolate, and plain and dark chocolate M&M’s!
Whether you’re strategically planning a Halloween candy and wine tasting party, or raiding the kids’ Halloween candy, there are plenty of wines that will make your moment of indulgence that much sweeter.