Wine & Candy: Enjoy Cupid’s Perfect Pairing

February is prime time on the East End to infuse your evenings with a little bit of joy. The days are a little too gray. The wind is a little too fierce. Valentine’s Day — or its increasingly popular antidote, Galentine’s Day — is the perfect excuse to indulge in a bit of whimsy with a wine and candy pairing this month.

Unconventional? Yes! Delicious? Also, yes!

The key with a wine and candy pairing is to consider your particular tastes, and also to be open to how the different flavors can interact.

Roman Roth. Photo by Mark Weinberg

“You can either go the contrasting way by pairing sweet with sour, or you could go the matching way by pairing sweet with sweet or sour with sour,” said Roman Roth, winemaker at Wölffer Estate Vineyards, of enjoying wine and candy together. “Either way, the pairings will make the experience bigger and bolder.”

Whether you think that Valentine’s Day is for lovers or subscribe to the notion that it’s just another Hallmark holiday, you can’t go wrong with the below pairings:

Wine and Chocolate

There’s no more decadent or classic combination than wine and chocolate on Valentine’s Day.

Photo courtesy Disset Chocolate

“Chocolate is actually very similar to wine and can be approached as such,” said Ursula XVII, the owner and chocolatier of Disset Chocolate in Cutchogue, who also teaches pairing classes. “Chocolate is affected by its terroir, its fermentation process, and the makers [style] — just like in wine.”

How the chocolate and wines interact is largely dependent on the type of each you’re enjoying, shared Ursula. She notes that drier wines generally pair well with creamier chocolate like milk and white, and bolder wines will bring out the flavor of darker chocolate, which is bitter.

Photo courtesy North Fork Chocolate

Another approach is to match a chocolate’s tasting notes with a wine’s tasting notes, shared Chef Steve Amaral of North Fork Chocolate Company. For example, a red that has hints of cherry would pair well with cherry chocolate.

Knowing what chocolate and wine you’ll like together starts with experimentation. Just as no two wine palates are the same, everyone’s taste in chocolate can differ. “Have fun and be open-minded,” said Ursula when enjoying different chocolate and wine combos. “Try a dark chocolate with a white wine or a white chocolate with a red wine. It can be really fun to see how chocolate can bring things out in a wine or cover them up.”

In the spirit of having fun with the pairings, check out a few other suggestions for mixing Valentine’s Day candy with wine:

Conversation Hearts

Packed full of sweetness, conversation hearts melt in your mouth and give you a sugar rush before you can say “HOT STUFF” or “BE MINE.” Capitalize on the candy’s flavor by choosing an equally sweet pairing. Try the North Fork’s One Woman Gewürztraminer Dessert Wine.

Gummy Hearts 

Gummy candies dusted with sugar make for a light, and sometimes tart or sour, Valentine’s Day treat. Embrace the airly essence of gummy hearts with a sparkling wine. In the spirit of the season, choose a pink-hued sparkling rosé. Try the Topaz Impérial Brut Rosé from Sparkling Pointe in Southold.

Red Hots

Red Hots perfectly capture the fire associated with Valentine’s Day. Balance out the cinnamon flavor with a dry wine that can complement the candy’s spicy notes. Try the Chardonnay Estate from Macari Vineyards in Mattituck. Or, go all in on the red theme and choose a lighter-bodied, fruit-forward red that won’t clash with the candy, like Ev&Em’s Classic Pinot Noir.

Junior Mints

Junior Mints may not be a classic Valentine’s Day candy, but the company comes through with a heart-shaped version for the holiday. The strong minty flavor would pair well with a bold red like a Cabernet. Try the Cabernet Reserve from Pindar Vineyard in Peconic.

Hershey’s Kisses

It wouldn’t be a proper Valentine’s Day without a kiss. Whether you’re single or taken, a milk chocolate kiss pairs perfectly with a dry wine like RGNY’s Sauvignon Blanc.

Lastly, if you want a beverage that works well with them all, don’t sleep on cider. According to Roth, the beautiful aroma of Wölffer’s #139 Botanical Cider would stand up to all of the candies, and the “fruity mouth-feel will be a refreshing match” to the sweetness.

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