What do you think of when you think of Halloween? Do you think of adorable kids in fuzzy costumes trick or treating? Or do you think of mischief and mayhem, of horror movies and egging the neighbors’ house?
The great thing about Halloween is that it’s about all of these things, but it is, above all, about candy. Maybe some people ‘mature’ and ‘grow out of their sweet tooth,’ but many of us don’t, if we’re really honest with ourselves.
The difference is that now you can have a little sip of something strictly not for kids while you raid the candy bowl. What could be better to pair with your pilfered PayDay than one of the many styles of wine that’s gotten a bad reputation – not for knocking over mailboxes, but for being unsophisticated, or just plain old bad!
For candy in the nut/nougat/caramel family, tawny port is a great way to go, but there are several other styles of fortified and dessert wines that will play well with the toasty, nutty flavors of nuts, caramel, and salt. For the past few months we’ve all been flipping for the Rozes Porto White Reserve. If there ever was a wine with a bad reputation, White Port is definitely it. This beauty, though, with its 8 years of barrel age, has just the right amount of sweetness, and tastes great both chilled and a little closer to room temperature.
Riesling has also got some bad behavior to atone for. Anyone who’s had a bottle of Blue Nun takes one look at the long, tapered bottle shape of a bottle of Riesling and shudders a little. Well, Riesling has gone to finishing school, and many of them are perfect matches with things we don’t usually consider wine-friendly food. One of our favorite new, unique sparklers is the delicious Klemens Weber Trocken Seckt 2009. A single-vintage, 100% Riesling sparkler, this is a party in your mouth. Though it’s fermented dry, it’s got so much fruit and acidity that even Sour Patch Kids won’t annhiliate its flavor.
Got something with marshmallow or coconut in the candy dish? The Erdener Pralat Auslese from Monchoff is just the thing to sip on. Its unctuous texture and sweetness will enhance all of those flavors, but its bright acidity, especially in the 2010 vintage, will keep things from getting too sticky.
Chocolate is a subject that elicits passion and strong opinions. And, if you’ve ever opened a food or lifestyle magazine or gone to Napa or Sonoma during the Valentine’s Day season, you know that chocolate and Cabernet is a common pairing. A teacher of mine once commented that because chocolate and Cabernet Sauvignon are both sexy, rich, and dark, that people assume they’ll just automatically go together, like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Unfortunately, the pairing is more Gigli than Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Chocolate needs something a little sweeter than itself, otherwise it can taste unpleasantly bitter.
What chocolate really needs is a red wine with a little sweetness, and Fracchia’s fun, fizzy red sparkler is just that. Sweet red wine tends to make people run for the hills as they wince at the memory of Franzia Chillable Red drunk from a box. But the Fracchia Voulet, made from a red variety of Malvasia in Italy’s Piedmont region, is another animal entirely. With loads of big, juicy red fruit, low alcohol, sparkle and sweetness, it’s just the thing to have with the Hershey’s Special Darks that always seem to be left at the bottom of the bag after the Crackles and Mr. Goodbars have been eaten.
So, what’s your favorite Halloween candy, and have you ever gotten into any October 31st mischief?