28 October, 2016

What to drink with Your Halloween Candy? Be Late. Late Harvest Riesling



Pairing Halloween Candy with Wine
Two confessions: First, I never buy Halloween candy until 10/31 otherwise I just have to buy it twice .  Okay, there was that low point in 2012 where I might have made three trips to replace some very bad food choices.  And second, likely a moot point now:  I love Halloween candy.

Nothing made me happier as a child than a pillowcase full of sugary loot. The handles on those plastic pumpkins were never sturdy enough to accommodate my sugar crazed zeal as I tramped through our very hilly and drizzly San Francisco neighborhood trick-or-treating.

 Pairing candy with wine?  Not my favorite thing.  The first two rules of wine and food pairing will explain why pairing wine with candy is hard.  Rule #1 is that food sweetness should be less than or equal to wine.  Candy lands on the intensely sweet side of the food spectrum.  It is further complicated in that sour-sweet candies, which are by nature less sweet, can  have a rampantly acidic character if they are flavored by citric acid.  This wreaks havoc with Rule #2: Food acidity should be less than or equal to wine.

Samwell Tarly and I felt Funko POPped
So where do you start your Monster Mash?  It may have been ill advised, but I started mine where the best bet for pairing wine with anything starts: Experimentation.

I selected a wine with more than moderate sweetness and also, with a good amount of acidity.  In my wine stash I found a bottle of  Talbott R & V  Late Harvest Riesling  from the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County in California.  This golden colored wine has aromas of stone fruit, vanilla, white flowers and subtle tropical notes.  Flavors of apricots, honey and vanilla nestle in its silky texture.  It's sweet, but enlivened by bright acidity, so doesn't taste cloying.

 It really all went downhill from there.

There were miniatures of all kinds and some full sized bags. Most of the candy overpowered the wine with intense sweetness. Or lacked a bridge flavor to hook with the wine, so never became a  harmonious match.  I perservered.

Best Pairing: Kit Kats and Late Harvest Riesling
As luck would have it, I soon found a tasty match in my candy grab bag.  Kit Kat candy bars have a vanilla top note to their chocolate coating as well as a touch of salt, so the candy matches the vanilla and pairs well with the caramel-touched apricot tones of the wine.  Additionally, the crispy wafers decreased the sweetness and increased the crunch, which proved an interesting textural note against the unctuous wine.  Sadly, the old Riesling vines used to conjure up this delicious elixir have been replanted, so this pair is as ephemeral as childhood itself.  But I sipped, crunched, reminisced and dreamt of more Late Harvest Rieslings in my future.  Bring on the Trick or Treaters--just don't expect me to share my KitKats!

Moral of the story: You can't go wrong pairing food with Riesling





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