Trick or Sweet?

the drunken cyclist  | By Jeffrey M. Kralik, Ph.D.

By the time this goes to print, we will hopefully be out from under the heat dome that dominated our weather system for what seems like forever. The focus now shifts to Fall activities and chief among them, Halloween. I was not surprised when the fine editors here at Fort Bend Focus suggested that I write an article with a Halloween theme, specifically, pairing wines with Halloween candy.

There were three major hurdles to get over when it came to the request. The first is that I swore I would never write an article pairing wine with candy.

Oh well.

Second, I really don’t like Halloween all that much. In fact, I don’t like it at all since it brings back some childhood memories that I would rather forget. No, my parents weren’t dentists, and nobody died, nor was I poisoned, abducted or hit by a car.   

I wish.

No, for every single Halloween when I was a child, I was required, no forced to be… a clown. Not only did I and my three siblings all have to be clowns, but my mother handmade all of our costumes. To make matters worse, I am the third child so I received the hand-me-down clown-fits from my older brother (who had managed to stain or rip them in some fashion) or, when I complained too much, I would have to wear the previous year’s costume from my older sister.

Yeah. I know. You want a sure-fire way to get me a little hot under the collar? Call me a “clown.”

The third reason the pairing of wine and Halloween candy is a bit of an issue for me? The vision of some poor clown rifling through his or her unsuspecting kid’s candy bucket to pull out all of the Baby Ruth bars and then running to the wine rack to find the “perfect pairing” is, well, one of the saddest images I can conjure –  other than an eight-year-old “clown” heading out to Trick-or-Treat, of course.

An assignment is an assignment, however, and without any further ado, here are my suggestions on pairing wine with Halloween candy.

First, a few general comments:

Let’s get this out of the way immediately: Both Almond Joy and Mounds bars are abhorrent and should be immediately thrown in the trash or better yet, refused at the door. They are by no means “a treat.”  I would rather get a toothbrush.

There is absolutely no reason to break the bank with one exception.   Reminder: you are pairing wine with candy.

The one exception is champagne. I am a firm believer that champagne or sparkling wine pairs well with just about anything.

Sweet wines and fortified wines are the obvious choices here, but being obvious is annoying. Almost as bad as being a…

Now on to some specifics:

  • M&M’s, Hershey’s kisses, Kit Kats and plain chocolate bars use milk chocolate, which is quite sweet, so stay away from wines with a lot of tannin. Instead, go with a light Pinot Noir or a fruity Zinfandel. Look for Raeburn Pinot and Pedroncelli Mother Clone Zinfandel.
  • Candy corn, Sugar Babies, Pixie Sticks. These are all, essentially, just pure sugar and probably should suffer the same fate as Almond Joy, but instead, grab an unoaked Chardonnay and make sure it is really cold. Look for Chalk Hill Chardonnay.

“Fruit” candy, such as Skittles, Starburst, Sweetarts and the like, have absolutely nothing to do with fruit, but they would work best with fruity but also tart whites. Either a Sauvignon Blanc or an off-dry Riesling. The Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home SB is fantastic and the Château Ste. Michelle Riesling is a wallet pleaser.

  • “Fringe candy,” the treats that are loaded with sugar but focus on a different sensation, such as Sour Patch Kids and Hot Tamales, I would match up with an ice-cold, fruity rosé. If you can find it, treat yourself to a Les Sarrins Rosé from Provence.
  • Last, for the best of all Halloween candy, Snickers, Baby Ruth or even Payday, I would break out a California Cabernet Sauvignon. My suggestion? Freakshow from Michael David. It seems to fit, doesn’t it?

So, there you have it, an article I swore I would never write, but we have to all embrace challenge and change. No, this does not mean I am considering dressing up as a clown this Halloween. I mean, come on.