Wine and Halloween candy — a perfect combination
October’s arrival brings thoughts of Halloween candy to please little trick-or-treaters in full costumes. Adults can join the fun — with costumes optional — by pairing diverse wines and liqueurs with grown-up confectionary delights.
If you’d rather not wait to rummage through your kid’s Halloween night stash, Mon Aimee Chocolat, located at the corner of Penn Avenue and 19 th Street in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Strip District, carries a full range of nostalgic and current sweets as well as delicious confections from Switzerland, France, Italy, the United States and beyond.
Sip the following tasty wines and liqueurs paired with nibbles of these delightful sweets:
· Cockburn’s 10-Year Tawny Porto, Portugal (Luxury 14609; $24.99 for 500 ml.) makes a natural partner with chocolate, both milk and dark chocolate. The wine ages patiently in barrels for 10 years to develop its trademark “tawny” brown color that offers caramel and chocolate notes. Good freshness balances the wine’s sweet finish and 20% alcohol by volume. Try it with “Villars Pur Chocolat Suisse — Luzern,” a creamy, sweet chocolate bar made with milk from Lucerne, Switzerland and with “Guittard — 72% Cacao Quetzalcoatl,” a bittersweet dark chocolate bar made in San Francisco using West African and South American cacao beans.
• 2014 Blandy’s 10-year Malmsey Madeira, Portugal (Luxury 43243; $28.99 for 500 ml.) offers intriguing sweet toffee notes with terrific freshness and zesty saline accents. Its rich, irresistible texture carries 19% alcohol by volume. Pair it with sea salt caramels and with “Les Ruchers de Bourgogne Nougat with honey and lavender from France.
• Ramazzotti Amaro, Milano, Italy (Luxury: 10635; $19.99) uses a secret blend of botanicals to produce a dark brown-colored, pleasantly bitter yet mildly sweet cordial fortified to 30 percent alcohol by volume. It pairs brilliantly with the mildly sweet “Toblerone,” a Swiss milk chocolate confection with honey and almond nougat. The candy enjoys wide popularity in northern Italy where locals regularly sip little glasses of Ramazzotti and other amaros.
L’Original Combier, Liqueur d’Orange, France (7712; $24.99) comes the town of Saumur in France’s beautiful Loire River Valley. The liqueur’s intense orange peel aromas and rich flavors balance with pronounced sweetness and an intense finish with 40 % alcohol by volume. Pair it with candied orange peels covered dark chocolate.
Mazza Vineyards, “Bare Bones White,” Lake Erie, Pa. (8037; $10.99) comes from Vidal Blanc, Cayuga, Traminette and Riesling grapes grown in a narrow strip of vineyards hugging Lake Erie in north eastern Pennsylvania. This tasty white wine offers forward fruitiness, crisp flavors and a soft, well-balanced off-dry finish. Pair it with classic Clark Bars which wrap chocolate around a crunchy peanut nougat.
2015 Courtyard Winery, Noiret, Remington Road Vineyard, Lake Erie, Pa. (Available either online or at the winery’s stores in Pittsburgh Strip District and Ross Park Mall; $15.99) comes from third generation Pennsylvania winegrower Randy Graham. Researchers at Cornell University bred the Noiret grape as a winter hearty hybrid to produce terrific results in Lake Erie’s vineyards. The dark red wine’s pleasant, ripe fruitiness and hints of peppery spiciness pair perfectly with black licorice roll ups.
Dave DeSimone is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.