Wine & Witches: A Spooktacular Guide to Pairing Wine with Halloween Candy

Welcome to a whimsically wicked journey through the world of wine and Halloween candy pairings! We know that when it comes to devouring your sweet treasure trove of Snickers, M&M’s, and candy corn, the ideal wine pairing is the one you like best. But why not elevate your Halloween festivities to a whole new level of spooky sophistication? In this delightful article by Emily Saladino at The Wine Enthusiast, she’ll unearth the secrets of pairing wines with your favorite treats. From the sugary symphony of M&M’s to the divisive delights of candy corn, she has expert advice to ensure your taste buds tango with your candies in harmonious hilarity. So grab your corkscrew and get ready to embark on a mouthwatering adventure that’s sweeter than any ghostly apparition!

How to Pair Wine with Halloween Candy, According to an Expert Taster


The ideal wine pairing is always the one you like best. But if you want to savor your Halloween haul in style, it’s helpful to keep certain tips in mind when pairing wine with Snickers, M&M’s and other candy.

“Unlike your average dessert that has layered flavors and balance, candy is basically entirely sugar,” says Fiona Adams, assistant tasting director at Wine Enthusiast. “All that sugary sweetness is delightful to eat, but it can make dry wines taste astringent and bitter.”

M&Ms, for example, have milk chocolate “with a little extra sugary kick from the candy coating,” Adams says, so you’ll want to avoid tannic pours. Instead, she recommends eating M&Ms with light, fruity, unoaked reds like Pinot Noir or Gamay.

Consider the textural components of your candy bar too.

“Kit Kats are essentially a cookie versus a chocolate,” says Adams. She suggests pairing them with Ruby Port to complement the light, fruity flavors of the milk chocolate coating.

Candy corn is a divisive treat / Getty

In 2018, a Mashable survey found that candy corn was the “most hated” Halloween candy in 21 states. If you are among the few and proud who enjoy the marzipan-like treat, however, consider fruit-forward Prosecco or sparkling Riesling.

“The bubbles will help cleanse the palate from all the sugar,” Adams says. “But this isn’t the time for heftier bubbles — stick with crisp and simple.”

Off-dry Riesling is a good foil for Starbursts.

“Wines with ripe stone fruit and melon notes will happily pair with all the different color Starbursts, and vibrant acidity keeps the wine and the candy from being sickly sweet,” Adams says.

Because Hershey’s Special Dark lacks the sugary bells and whistles of other chocolate bars, you might try it with something on the drier end of the spectrum.

“Wines with velvety texture will work best,” says Adams. “Richly fruited Zinfandel and dark chocolate creates a sultry experience.”

Adams suggests pairing Amontillado or Oloroso Sherry for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because “the nutty flavors found in sherry bring out the peanut butter in the Reese’s and balance the sweetness of the chocolate.”

Or you could go for broke with Sauternes and Snickers.

“Snickers have got it all going on—chocolate, caramel and peanuts,” says Adams. “Salty peanuts and caramel play well with Sauternes’ rich and sweet flavors, while the brisk, bracing acidity refreshes the palate.”

Wine and Halloween candy pairing

Decadent Delights: Pairing Wine with Dark Chocolate

If there’s one culinary duo that has delighted taste buds for centuries, it’s the harmonious pairing of wine and chocolate. Among the myriad of chocolate options, dark chocolate stands out as a versatile canvas for wine pairing. In this article, we’ll delve into the art of matching wine with dark chocolate. We’ll explore the methods employed by wine pairing experts, the intricacies of understanding both chocolate and wine, and the key factors that experts consider when creating the perfect pairing.

Understanding the Basics

Wine and chocolate may seem like an unlikely couple, but they share many complex flavor compounds that can complement or contrast each other in beautiful ways. To create a successful pairing, it’s essential to start with a solid understanding of the characteristics of both dark chocolate and wine.

Dark Chocolate

Before diving into wine pairings, let’s take a closer look at dark chocolate. Dark chocolate typically contains a higher percentage of cocoa solids and less sugar than milk chocolate. The cacao beans used in dark chocolate can come from various regions, each imparting unique flavors and aromas. Here are some key aspects experts consider when evaluating dark chocolate:

  1. Cocoa Percentage: The percentage of cocoa solids in dark chocolate can vary widely, from 50% to over 90%. Higher percentages often result in more intense and bitter flavors.
  2. Origin: The origin of the cacao beans greatly influences the chocolate’s flavor profile. For example, beans from Madagascar may offer fruity and citrusy notes, while those from Ecuador might have a more earthy and nutty character.
  3. Texture: Dark chocolate can range from smooth and creamy to grainy and brittle. The texture can influence the overall mouthfeel and how it pairs with wine.
  4. Additional Ingredients: Some dark chocolates include additional ingredients like nuts, fruits, or spices, which can impact the pairing choices.
  5. Taste Profile: Dark chocolate can exhibit flavors such as fruity, floral, earthy, nutty, or spicy notes, depending on the cacao beans and processing methods.


Wine is a complex beverage with a wide range of styles and flavors, making it a fascinating partner for dark chocolate. When selecting wine for pairing, wine experts consider several factors:

  1. Grape Varietal: Different grape varietals offer distinct flavors, acidity levels, and tannin structures. Red grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir or fortified wines like Port can be excellent choices for pairing with dark chocolate.
  2. Sweetness: The sweetness level of the wine can either contrast or complement the sweetness of the dark chocolate. Sweet wines like Late Harvest Riesling can balance the bitterness of chocolate, while dry wines can provide contrast.
  3. Tannins: Tannins, compounds found in red wines, can interact with the bitterness of dark chocolate. In some cases, they can enhance the overall experience, while in others, they might clash.
  4. Acidity: The acidity in wine can cut through the richness of dark chocolate, providing a refreshing contrast.
  5. Flavor Notes: Wines can exhibit a wide range of flavors, from fruity and floral to earthy and spicy. Experts consider these flavor notes when making pairing recommendations.

The Methods of Wine Pairing Experts

Wine pairing is both an art and a science, and experts use various methods to create harmonious pairings with dark chocolate. Here’s a glimpse into the process:

1. Tasting Chocolate

Wine experts start by thoroughly tasting the dark chocolate they intend to pair. This involves taking small, deliberate bites and paying close attention to the following aspects:

  • Flavor Profile: Experts analyze the chocolate’s flavor notes, which can range from fruity and citrusy to nutty and earthy.
  • Texture: They note the texture, assessing whether it’s smooth and creamy or has a more granular feel.
  • Cocoa Percentage: The cocoa percentage is a critical factor, as it determines the chocolate’s bitterness and intensity.
  • Additional Ingredients: If the dark chocolate includes additives like nuts, spices, or dried fruits, experts consider how these elements interact with the base chocolate.

2. Analyzing Wine

Simultaneously, wine experts examine the wine they plan to pair. They evaluate its characteristics, including:

  • Grape Varietal: Experts consider the grape varietal, as each one offers unique flavors and attributes.
  • Sweetness Level: The sweetness level of the wine plays a crucial role in determining how it will complement the dark chocolate.
  • Tannin Structure: The presence and strength of tannins are assessed, as they interact with the bitterness of the chocolate.
  • Acidity: The acidity of the wine is examined to determine how it will balance the richness of the chocolate.
  • Flavor Notes: Wine experts identify the wine’s flavor notes, such as fruitiness, spiciness, or earthiness.

3. Finding Balance

After thoroughly understanding both the dark chocolate and the wine, experts seek balance. They aim to create pairings where the flavors, textures, and characteristics complement or contrast in a way that enhances the overall tasting experience.

4. Experimentation

Pairing experts often engage in extensive experimentation to discover the perfect combination. This may involve tasting multiple wines with various types of dark chocolate to find the most harmonious match.

5. Personal Preferences

While there are general guidelines for pairing dark chocolate and wine, experts also acknowledge the importance of personal preferences. What works for one person may not work for another. Experts encourage wine enthusiasts to explore and trust their palates when making pairing choices.

Factors Considered in Pairing Dark Chocolate and Wine

When pairing dark chocolate with wine, several factors come into play to ensure a delightful and memorable tasting experience. Wine experts carefully consider these elements:

1. Sweetness

Matching the sweetness level of the wine with that of the dark chocolate is essential. Here are some common pairings:

  • Bitter Dark Chocolate (70%+ cocoa): These chocolates can pair well with sweeter wines like Late Harvest Riesling or Tawny Port. The contrast between bitterness and sweetness can create a harmonious balance.
  • Semi-sweet Dark Chocolate (50-70% cocoa): These chocolates can be paired with a wider range of wines, including Zinfandel, Merlot, or Malbec.
  • Milk Chocolate: Although not as common with dark chocolate, milk chocolate can be matched with lighter reds like Pinot Noir or a fruity Rosé.

2. Tannins

The presence of tannins in wine can interact with the bitterness of dark chocolate. While some pairings can work well, others may clash. Here’s what experts consider:

  • High Tannin Red Wines (e.g., Cabernet Sauvignon): These wines can complement dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher. The tannins and bitterness balance each other.
  • Low Tannin Red Wines (e.g., Pinot Noir): These wines are better suited for less bitter dark chocolates, around 50-60% cocoa.

3. Flavor Profiles

Pairing experts also pay close attention to the flavor profiles of both the chocolate and the wine. Complementary flavors can enhance the tasting experience, while contrasting flavors can create intrigue. For example:

  • Fruity Dark Chocolate: If the dark chocolate has fruity notes, pairing it with a wine that has similar fruity characteristics, like a Shiraz or a Zinfandel, can create a delightful harmony.
  • Nutty or Earthy Dark Chocolate: For dark chocolate with nutty or earthy flavors, consider a wine with similar undertones, such as a Merlot or a Bordeaux blend.

4. Texture

The texture of the dark chocolate matters too. Creamy, smooth chocolates can pair differently from those with a more granular or brittle texture. For example:

  • Creamy Dark Chocolate: Creamy dark chocolates may pair well with a smoother wine, like a Merlot or a Syrah, creating a harmonious mouthfeel.
  • Textured Dark Chocolate (e.g., with nuts): Textured chocolates can pair with wines that provide contrast, such as a sparkling wine or a Zinfandel.

Expert Recommendations

Here are some expert-recommended pairings to get you started on your journey to experiencing the sublime combination of dark chocolate and wine:

  1. 70% Dark Chocolate with Tawny Port: The rich, nutty flavors of Tawny Port beautifully complement the intense bitterness of 70% dark chocolate.
  2. 60% Dark Chocolate with Pinot Noir: The soft tannins and red berry notes in Pinot Noir provide an elegant contrast to the slightly sweeter 60% dark chocolate.
  3. Fruity Dark Chocolate with Shiraz: When enjoying dark chocolate with fruity notes, a bold and fruity Shiraz can enhance the overall tasting experience.
  4. Earthy Dark Chocolate with Bordeaux: The earthy, woody notes in Bordeaux wines make them an excellent match for dark chocolate with similar characteristics.
  5. Textured Dark Chocolate with Sparkling Wine: Chocolates containing nuts or other inclusions pair wonderfully with the effervescence of a sparkling wine, creating a delightful textural contrast.


Pairing dark chocolate with wine is a sensory adventure that invites you to explore the intricate flavors, textures, and characteristics of these two indulgent delights. Wine pairing experts follow a systematic approach to create harmonious pairings, considering factors such as sweetness, tannins, flavor profiles, and texture.

As you embark on your own journey of wine and dark chocolate pairing, remember that personal preferences play a significant role in the experience. Don’t hesitate to experiment and discover your unique combinations that bring joy to your palate. Whether you’re savoring a luxurious moment alone or sharing it with friends, the art of pairing wine with dark chocolate promises a world of decadent delights waiting to be explored. Cheers to the blissful union of wine and chocolate!