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5 Deliciously Grown Up Halloween Wine Pairings

We love just how our little goblins and princesses light up with delight at the sight of Snickers and Butterfingers dropping into their plastic orange pails…but what about us grownups? This year, treat yourself to a scintillating sugar rush, and no, we don’t condone sneaking your 10-year-old’s loot! This year, get your hands on deliciously decadent desserts paired with the best local wines. Because practical, dare I say, “healthy,” treats (fruit and floss, I’m look at you) are just scary.

1. Bittersweet Chocolate Skeleton Cookies with Tempranillo

Bittersweet chocolate is an acquired taste and a truly adult snack (you won’t ever have to worry about your little one stealing a nibble).

Pair these fun and frightful bittersweet chocolate skeleton cookies with a full bodied, jammy red wine with fruit-forward berry flavor.

Wine Pick: Michael Gill Cellars, known for small-batch Rhône wines, makes a fruity Tempranillo that stands up to dark chocolate’s bitter bite. The winery’s 2013 Tempranillo Tantrum ($42) offers hints of blood orange, grenadine, and pomegranate and berry compote layered with notes of dried cocoa and pumpkin pie spice.

Could there be a more perfect fall-flavored red?

2. Spider Web Cheesecake with Riesling

Salty, sweet, tangy, and creamy, there is nothing—no candy on earth—that can compete with the lusciousness of cheesecake! You may not think of cheesecake as a spooky Halloween treat, but this no-bake spider web cheesecake recipe features a ganache spider web spun by a gumdrop spider with licorice-string legs. With bittersweet chocolate and a tart squeeze of lemon juice in the filling, this dessert calls for a decidedly grown-up white wine (Grown up or not, it’s still totally OK to lick the spatula).

Wine Pick: Cutruzzola Vineyards in Cambria makes an incredible Riesling that hits all the high notes in this addictive dessert. Their 2012 Reisling (91 points from Wine Enthusiast) features citrus notes coupled with vibrant acidity that cuts through cheesecake’s rich creaminess with perfection.

3. Day of the Dead Cookies with Hard Cider

The older I get, the more the Day of the Dead resonates on a deeper level. All things must pass on, so why not celebrate while we’re still in the pink? Embrace the dark and light side of life with these playful two-tone sugar skull-inspired cookies sure to make a statement on your party tray. This recipe is great if you have a group of friends looking to get crafty (and a bit buzzed). Pop a few celebratory corks, roll up your sleeves and get crackin.’ There’s no time like the present, eh?

Wine pick: Not only is the effervescent, hard cider of Bristols perfect for a Day of the Dead-themed party (it’s reminiscent of dry champagne, the ultimate celebratory drink), but the delicate, bright bubbles and crisp, tart flavor go gangbusters with the crumbly-sweet goodness of these sugar cookies. Try Bristols Cider Original ($9 per bottle) for a crisp counter-point to all that sugar.

4. Pumpkin Jack-O-Lantern Pie with Late Harvest Muscat Canelli

You know I’m obsessed with all things pumpkin spice! Of course, before you could find the spicy-sweet flavoring in your favorite $4 grande latte or boxed pancake mix, you had to go straight to the source: the original classic pumpkin pie.

Put a Halloween twist on this fall flavor classic and “carve” the pie into a kooky Jack-O-Lantern face (so cute you’ll want to post it to Facebook immediately). With plenty of spicy, warm, and gooey goodness, you will want to bundle up with a big slice and leave a bowl of candy on the porch. Hey—kids have arms, don’t they?

Wine pick: Pumpkin pie has a lot going on, and all that earthy, spicy flavor calls out for a touch of sweetness! Go with a dessert wine like Rabbit Ridge Winery’s Russel Family Vineyard 2012 Sweet Joanne Late Harvest Muscat Canelli ($30). With a reputation as “caramelized honey in a glass,” this golden-hued sipper is autumn you can drink.

5. Haunted Brownies with Grenache

Some haunts are truly friendly! These ghostly brownies—topped with artful marshmallow magic—are fun, frightful, and so, so delicious.

The mix of textures (warm and moist chocolate center, crispy baked crust, and fluffy marshmallow) come together to create a crave-worthy chew, indeed!

Wine pick: A light, bright, peppery Grenache allows all of the rich, luxurious chocolate to shine through here. Pair with Bodega de Edgar’s 2012 Garnacha ($34) for a flavor combination will no doubt haunt you forever (in a good way!).



This blog was written by Hayley Thomas, food and wine writer for New Times and You can reach her at [email protected]

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