I spent Halloween on my porch, eating pumpkin seeds along with Chardonnay while passing candy to the 100+ kids that circle my block on the day every year in confectionary pursuits akin to a dog on a fox hunt. Still hot from the oven, the baked pumpkin seeds, basked in olive oil to golden brown, begged for a wine with some nutty undertones. This led me to an oaked Chardonnay—La Crema (Sonoma) is a favorite, but try it with any but know they must be oaked. The oak barrels are toasted and impart a nutty, rich flavor to the wine that matched the earthy pumpkin seeds.
With pumpkin seeds devoured, my hand wandered into the candy bowl. Trying to keep it Chicago local, I opted for Lemonheads made right off the Eisenhower Expressway at the Ferrara Pan candy factory in Forest Park (also home to Red Hots, Atomic Fireballs, and Boston Baked Beans). The sweet sour lemon needed a wine as crisp. I’d recommend Kono Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (Marlborough). Sauvignon Blancs usually offer two styles—grassy and citrusy. Choose a citrusy one, and although Sauvignon Blanc's citrus is more resonant of grapefruit than lemon, the citric acid commonality will complement.
Next there were my retro favorites, found with much excitement at my nearby Walgreen’s: the peanut butter kisses, a gooey, delicious confection that dentists revere for the assault they do on your fillings. The peanut butter creaminess is rich, and so I’d recommend a red here--I like Mark West Pinot Noir, from California (or splurge on their Russian River appellation). And of course it’d be a favorite with any chocolate/peanut butter confection, too, like my more popular peanut butter favorite, Reese’s.
Whatever your Halloween treats were this year, just remember pairing wines with the unconventional isn’t as scary as it sounds. Just follow the flavors and you’ll find that many of the textures and flavors of candy are similarly found in wines. Creamy, crisp, sweet, citrusy. Just follow your palate, and don’t be afraid of the dark as far as unusual wine pairings are concerned.
These wines are easily findable at Binny's (La Crema, Mark West) and Whole Foods (Kono).
Check out these sites to find your Halloween guilty pleasures: