Sugar and Wine and Everything Fine

I don’t know how many of you eat sugar. I deal with Hollywood, so my perspective is warped. Like, I went to a bachelorette dinner, and of the eight of us, we had one vegetarian (guilty as charged), one vegan, one gluten-free, one allergic to shellfish, and one on a cleanse. Tough beat for a candy bar. And while there isn’t a lot of admitted candy consumption in my chosen home of Los Angeles, ice cream and donut shops proliferate, leading me to believe sweets are still loved by adults. As do the number of treats being snapped up from craft services (aka crafty) when I’m being my actor self on set. Let’s make sweet treats extra adult. I’m pairing Halloween delights with alcohol. As one does. A quick thing: the generally acknowledged pairing rule is let thy wine be sweeter than thy sweet thang. And when that comes to more savory foods, I tend to think it is true. But when it comes to soooo sweet foods—I don’t think the rule always holds. Maybe I am “factually” wrong, but sometimes I like some savory, acid-rich, woo-woo wine to cut through the sweetest of sweets. Sometimes. And sometimes I want sweet on sweet. Rules be goshdurned to heck. Of all the results I give you, I cannot tell you how many combos of the wines and confections I tried. Truly, pairing drinks with sweets may be even trickier than pairing “problem” foods like artichokes. And yet here I am, doing the work. Enjoy this year’s sweets and wine treats. PEANUT BUTTER CUPS While the duo of peanut butter and chocolate is unimpeachable, if you are adding booze to the equation, I think it is better to add complexity, rather than doubling down on the flavors already in the candy. I’m going with a complex bourbon. Trails End 8 Year Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels That slight apple whimsy on the palate is fantastic with peanut butter; it reminds me of the peanut butter/apple butter sandwiches I’d make myself as a teen. Beyond apples, you get those sweet, honeyed notes along with the comforting wheat-y eau de Play-Doh notes that are my tell in a blind tasting of whiskey. Do this on A rock (not rocks), and if you want to chill the peanut butter cups, all the better. SNICKERS Story time: as baby goths, my friends and I really liked freezing Snickers bars, then violently chopping into them. Somehow the ice cold flavors tied with the exhilaration of attacking the innocent candy bar spoke to our tortured souls. Unlike peanut butter cups, Snickers are a smidge more complex, both in texture and in flavor, and the equally complex pairing I devised outdid my expectations Blandy’s 5 Year Old Malmsey Madeira There’s Madeira’s smoky notes against the roasted peanut. And the brilliant acidity of it all brightens things up. The Snicker’s chocolate is REAL friendly with the Malmsey’s palate that calls to mind a perfect cocktail finished with flamed orange peel. It’s sweet on sweet but also the savory nutty candy bar notes vibe with the smoked almonds and bitter coffee-toffee flavors of the Malmsey. It’s a sensation. THREE MUSKATEERS It’s one of the simplest of the candy bars—sweet, gooey nougat and a chocolate coating and that’s all she wrote. Somehow the simplicity of nougat makes me think of the simplicity of vanilla ice cream and BOOM I thought, I should try this with PX Sherry. Pedro Ximenez. To be transparent I had another fortified wine I was SURE would work with Three Muskateers. But it didn’t—and only then did I have the ice cream revelation. Anyway, here’s a PX to have with your candy bar, bite, fun size, whatever quantity of Three Muskateers you have. 1990 Bodegas Toro Albala Don Pedro Ximenez This is bonkers sweet—on the nose, on the palate, and soul. It smells of raisins, figs, dates (everything you might find in a healthy breakfast cereal minus the grains) and a whiff of iodine. On the palate, it manages to not be heavy, despite being a richness bomb. Oh, it has weight to be sure, but it never goes into the uncomfortable range of sweet and syrupy; all the aromas are still there with the addition of toffee and a hint of roasted pecans? Bonkers good with a Three Muskateers. To be sure, you will spiral from the sugar, but it’s worth it for this pairing. M&M’S This pairing was stumping me for a minute until I came up with a pairing that is, if nothing else, emotional, spiritual, and practical. Because call me crazy, but M&M’s seem like something generally either shared, divvied up into cookies or trail mix, or theoretically divided by color to put the green ones in rock star homes? At any rate, I think of M&M’s as a group sport. Boxed wine is also a group sport. You don’t open one for one or even two. It’s for a crowd. 2020 Root:1 GEA Cabernet Sauvignon Oh hey, cool boxed wine from Chile! 92% Cabernet and the rest is País. On the nose, it’s all juicy red cherry and blackberry and a touch of vanilla and earth. Samesies on the palate, taste/aroma wise with super smooth chilled-out tannins, smooth as those candy coatings I tell you. CANDY CORN You love it or hate it. So, I am pairing it with a wine people have strong opinions about, both to align maligned entities and because the two could form a reckless alliance. Candy corn and oaked Chardonnay, I am sure this is a nightmare for some, but I like candy corn, and I like Chalk Hill, what’s a girl to do? 2020 Chalk Hill Chardonnay Estate Chardonnay Complexity that will definitely add interest to your candy corn game! The nose is pungent—the vanilla-y notes of oak speak loudest, but on the palate, they are rounded out by lemon rind and lemon balm—almost all the lemons! But there is a sprinkling of earth and white pepper and overall, it is…a super fun wine. Candy corn it up; I swear this works. For me anyway. YORKS/JUNIOR MINTS You guys, I tried. But there is no wine I found to be congruous with these. Then again there are a lot of candies I didn’t fit into this article. Give me a year, I’ll be back with solutions. AT THE END OF OCTOBER A girl needs to crawl into a reviving hot shower with a glass of deliciousness and a bar of—no wait I’m still anti-food-in-shower despite the theoretical sexiness of a shower orange, the like of which I should cavort with soon. With some skin-contact wine. So I don’t have a wine AND candy shower pick for you but! If I were to shower with a wine and munch the candy pairing afterwards, what would it be? It must be the Chardonnay/candy corn flight. The Chard in the shower is as overtaking and heady as the sugar of the candy corn I’d ingest afterwards. Then probably fall over with damp hair and un-lotioned limbs. But it’s worth it for October. I love citing that it’s spooky season as much as I am down with the word foodie. All of it fits. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Haunted City, Hauntingly Good Drinks Black Cat Wines, Black Cat Vineyards Old World vs. New World: Pinot Grigio/Gris Santa Cruz: Something New Back to School Wines 101 You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! Ellie Anest Wine Situation Final Five! Morét Brealynn


5 Years Old Medium Rich Madeira Bual 1811

Bonkers sweet…as Malmsey is. Nutty and dark caramel and smoky and delicious. Madeira deserves a comeback. — a year ago

Severn, Peter and 11 others liked this

Bodegas Toro Albala

Don PX Montilla-Moriles Pedro Ximénez 1990

Speaking of sweet…the thing with PX is that it is not to be sipped alone. In my opinion. But pair it with something like vanilla ice cream or as I did lately a Three Musketeers. It has weight without being overbearing. Raisins, figs, a whiff of salt and maybe iodine…plus roasted pecans and toffee. Super complex which works with how rich it is. — a year ago

Severn, Peter and 12 others liked this

Trail's End Bourbon

Crafted with 8 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky Finished in Apple Brandy Barrel

A platinum medal winner at the LA Spirits Awards and I’m here for it. It reminds me of the apple butter/peanut butter sandwiches I ate as a teen. Why have I not bought apple butter in at least a decade? Never mind I have bourbon. — a year ago

Severn, Trixie and 9 others liked this