Real Halloween horrors are not faux-frightening costumes or campy wine plays—Vampire Vineyards, Poizin Zin, or Casillero de Diablo (“Cellar of the Devil”)—tonight’s real horrors are bags of treacly treats that will generate manic sugar highs. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Kids/grandkids may consume recklessly, but adults nibble, too. If you do, this column is for you: tricks to pair wine with treats.
Basic strategy: pair wine similar in sweetness to the treat, otherwise wine will taste acidic. This advice also works when you serve apéritifs or dessert wines with more respectable sugar-suffused Thanksgiving and Christmas fare.
• Caramel apples. Icewine/eiswein pairs if you eat apple first, follow with delicate icewine. Icewine/eiswein is made from grapes picked frozen on the vine.
• Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Sweet Riesling revives palate after peanut butter dries it out.
• Milky Way, Baby Ruth, Snickers, Chewy Dipps Caramel Nuts. Tawny Port and Madeira Malmsey are surprisingly good pairings with nuts and caramel.
• Dark chocolate. Ruby Port balances bitterness of cacao.
• Atomic Fireballs. Sugar in late-harvest gewürztraminer cools mouth; gewürtz spiciness complements cinnamon.
• Popcorn balls, candy corn. Buttery, California chards pair with sweet, salty, buttery popcorn.
• Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling 2010. Clean, lively pineapple-peach-grapefruit, spice; medium sweet, good acidity, bright finish; winner apéritif at 8.5% alc. $13
• Cálem Old Friends Tawny Porto NV. Nutty nose, medium body, smooth, balanced; simple, youthful fruit, sweet caramel; walnut finish; value buy. $13 (750 ml)
• Yalumba Antique Tawny Port. Intense, wonderfully ripe, very sweet; fig, dates, apricot, chocolate; incredibly lingering finish; value. $19 (375 ml)
• Peter Mertes Eiswein Edelsüss Nachtgold 2010. Apple, melon, peach; delicious, delicate, decadent nectar, effervescent honey. $21 (500 ml)