Halloween and drinking heavily go together like the orange and black bulbs on your neighbor's inexplicable outdoor decorations. We all know this. It's why Saturday Night Live parodied it with terrifying accuracy last weekend and why this weekend, in almost any city in America, you'll walk past Eleven from Stranger Things holding back Harley Quinn's hair while she barfs on the hood of a Kia Optima.
But some of us are past going out and throwing up and just want to stay in and eat our candy in peace. On Saturday night, I'll be dressing as a Thirtysomething Shut-In Who Just Realized She Gets BBC America. (No, wait, I'll be the sexy version of that). But what are you supposed to drink while you're peeling the wrappers off one Reese's Pumpkin after another? I don't want to ruin the flavor of Walgreens' finest 2-for-$2 candy by pairing it with the wrong wine, which is why I asked for help from two experts.
Chris Lindemann, an advanced sommelier working in Miami, and Ryan Reardon, the general manager and sommelier at The Consulate in Atlanta, have helpfully provided wine and beer pairings for ten candies that were listed on the recent survey of every state's favorite Halloween treats. This means that whether you're liberally stealing items from your children's stash or you're just stocking up on half-price candy on Tuesday morning, you'll know you made at least one good decision.
Reese's Cups/Pieces/Pumpkins Charles Lindemann: Dow's 10-year Tawny Port, Barbeito Madeira Bual 1982. Nuts want to dominate everything, and on these candies the chocolate is merely offering a frame for their creamy or crunchy center. Here we're going to go in step with the nuts: the oxidative, maple, dried fruit sweetness of the port and the razor's edge balance of sweet and acid of the khaki-hued Madeira.
Butterfinger Ryan Reardon: Here, I like a rich, full-bodied white wine. An aromatic grape variety (Roussane) that displays toasted walnuts, Marzipan, white peach and honey. Although it sounds like a dessert wine, it's actually quite dry. I selected Terre Rouge, Monarch Mile Vineyard, Roussane.
Kit-Kat Lindemann: Guinness Stout, Billecart-Salmon Demi-Sec NV. We're trying to match that milk chocolate sweetness with the neutral–but so very textural–malted wafer. There's a creaminess to each of these beverages that invites another bite.
Hershey's Kisses Reardon: One of my favorite pairings with milk chocolate is a wine from Piedmont Italy. Giulio Cocchi Brachetto D'Acqui is a sparkling wine from the brachetto grape, a wine that displays intense red berry flavors with raspberry leading the charge. Chocolate and red berries is a marriage made in heaven.
Milky Way Lindemann: Left-Hand Brewing Milk Stout, Rare Wine Company Historic Series Madeira Malmsey "New York". Milk chocolate's sweetness, nougat sugar bomb and caramel edge need something pretty substantial to keep being to taste. These are both sweet, spicy, and would manage to balance the sugar bomb (stout using bubbles, Madeira with acid).
Swedish Fish Reardon: The licorice qualities in Swedish Fish match well with a lot of red wines. I chose Merry Edwards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. It's bursting with cherries, and I like the combination of the chewiness of the candy with the tannin in the wine.
Oreos Lindemann: Milk, unpasteurized milk from a buddy you know, Kumis (aka Mongolian fermented mare or yak's milk); Simply put, one can't mess with a classic pairing. While there might be something out there that kind-of works it's not going to knock this one off the mountain.
Starburst Lindemann: Hoegaarden Hefeweisen, Elio Perrone "Sourgal" Moscato d'Asti 2014; Even with the not overtly citrus-flavored candies there's enough citric acid to always offer a reminder. Here we dance in time with it: citrusy and lightly tart beer and delicious high-quality peachy/citrusy/floral moscato d'asti (it's so much more than alcoholic Sprite!)
Almond Joy Reardon: This is one of my favorite pairings: aged Tawny port and almonds. The exposure to oxygen in the winemaking process gives this port an array of nutty flavors–which complement the almonds–and a sweetness that promotes the chocolate.
Candy Corn MUNCHIES: Nope, nope, nope. If you're eating candy corn, you should be chugging something potent and thinking about every bad decision you've ever made. INCLUDING THIS ONE.
This first appeared on MUNCHIES in October 2016.