If, as Ogden Nash quipped, "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker," then it seems imperative come Halloween season to figure out a way to make the quicker dandy. Snobs might insist you can't do anything but match an expensive Cognac and Valrhona dark chocolate, but I thought it might be fun to ask some experts to come up with less chi-chi pairings. That they managed to avoid any of those wines labeled especially for late October sales -- you know the ones, with names like Vlad the Zinpaler -- is to their credit. After all, as a general rule, don't buy wines from companies that spend more on marketing than their grapes.
That said, Bob Wesley, the man in charge of the wonderful Winehound wine store in Santa Barbara, looked to a small production spot in Anderson Valley for his match, saying: "Stunning gustatory hedonism is achieved when munching on a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, but pairing it with Meyer Family California Port opens up palatal vistas both multidimensional and obscene: Imagine the movie 9½ Weeks if it had been produced by Hershey's Chocolates.
"Think of the pairing as a drastic, adult remake of your childhood favorite, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The port oozes with blackberry and cherry and its own chocolaty accents, and my advice is to take a bite of the Reese's first, masticate for a bit, and then down a sip of the ambrosial Meyer. The full-throttle fusillade of cocoa and berry will jettison your taste buds and olfactory senses beyond this earthly realm and then slowly bring you back again ... just in time for a second sampling and round two of All Hallow's Eve nirvana."
And while Wesley waxed ecstatic over one match, Morgan Clendenen (CEO/Owner/Winemaker) & Kara Van Corbach (Mayor) of Cold Heaven Cellars, one of Santa Barbara's esteemed producers of pinot noir and viognier, came up with a five-part list:
1) Caramel corn with 2008 D'Alfonso-Curran White Hills Chardonnay. The caramel plays up the butterscotch notes and lively acidity of this chardonnay.
2) Starburst with 2012 Botasea Rosato di Palmina. The tartness and juicy flavors of Starburst favors the just-picked strawberry and watermelon flavors of this bright rosé wine.
3) M&M's with Clendenen Family Vineyards Petit Verdot. The sweetness of the chocolate M&M's pairs well with the dusty, velvety tanins on the petit verdot. But just eat the green ones, they taste better.
4) Snickers with Baehner-Fournier 2010 'Solus' Cabernet Sauvignon. This lush cabernet sauvignon picks up notes of light toasted nuts when paired with Snickers.
5) Pumpkin flavored anything with Margerum Amaro. This liqueur is a digestif but plays into the spice and caramelized flavors of pumpkin flavors. It also helps with any stomachache you may get from eating all of your kid's candy."
That's a hint, by the way -- if you wolf down too much of your children's candy just so you can drink, you might have a problem.
Want recipes and food news emailed directly to you? Sign up for the new Food newsletter here!