It’s the spookiest season of the year, but choosing which wines to pair with Halloween treats shouldn’t give you nightmares. We sat down with certified sommelier Brett Hartt (of Palm Beach Meats and Clandestine Culinary) for his favorite wine-and-sweets pairings while you trick-or-treat this Halloween. clandestineculinary.com
Skittles & Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley Semillon 2022, New South Wales, Australia
Skittles are heavy on citrus and berry flavors, making this Semillon a perfect Halloween night quaff. It’s big on lip-smacking citrus fruits. The entry is all white flowers with a bright acidity giving way to a mid-palate with moderate weight and texture. Hints of citrus zest and lemon curd blend well with a sweet bag of Skittles.
Swedish Fish & Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose N/V
These two together are better than Pepsi and Pop Rocks! This French sparkler is vinified with 100-percent Pinot Noir, which pairs perfectly with the bright red berry fruitiness of Swedish Fish. The color is a light pink with a creamy mousse (the bubbly part on top) in the glass. Aromas of fresh strawberry, raspberries and orange blossom on the nose give way to a lightly rich palate of bright red fruit and wild cherry. This is a dry sparkling wine with a crispness that will also contrast the fruity sweetness of Swedish Fish.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins or Snickers & Lustau Almacenista Jose Luis Gonzalez Obregon ‘Oloroso del Puerto’ Sherry
Despite being a longtime somm’s favorite for its unique profile and regional identity, most Americans still think of sherry as something their grandparents used to drink after a three-martini lunch with Don Draper. Oloroso (Spanish for scented) Sherry is pretty great with chocolate and peanut butter. This fortified wine from Andalucía is made from a grape called Palomino and has plenty of nutty aromatics and flavors, owing to the oxidative nature of the fermentation process. Toasted Marcona almonds and roasted peanuts on the nose are layered over lightly smoky wood notes. The palate is rich with dark chocolate truffle and cocoa, making a nice sweet and savory combination.
Hershey’s Special Dark or Milky Way Midnight Dark & Ridge Vineyards Lytton Estate Petite Sirah 2018, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Petite Sirah suffers from a bit of an identity crisis because it’s neither petite nor syrah. It’s a French grape called Durif, which typically produces an inky, midnight dark wine with big, rich flavors of ripe dark fruit and spice. Ridge is one of the OG California wineries, which makes a more subtle version, with a touch of Zinfandel in the blend bursting with blackberry jam and blueberry pie notes. The palate is richly layered with black currants, dark cocoa and shaved dark chocolate. This wine is dense, luscious and tastes amazing with chocolate, especially dark chocolate, which can be a tricky pairing partner.
Caramel Apples & Hermann J. Wiemer Late Harvest Riesling 2021, Finger Lakes, NY
This one is a natural pairing partner with a crisp yet sweet, crunchy candied apple. As a cool climate Riesling with some extra late fall hang time, it checks all the right boxes—brightness, freshness, acidity. Lush golden and green apple flavors are complemented by hints of tropical fruit.