For this Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, Kat’s theme is “OOPS!”. No greater wine-fail exists than this:
You’re down the rabbit hole. You bought Halloween candy. You chose ones that kids want: Hersheys, Mars, Butterfinger, etc. You know they are little bags of chemical warfare. But serving carrot sticks will get your house egged.
Readied, you sit there: like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin:
Between rushes of costumed, underage beggars, you do it. You eat one.
Unpronounceable petrochemicals assail your palate. Endless variations of corn sugars leave no turning back. You can’t drink wine now. That sweetness will render any wine brutal and dry.
But how to fend off the boredom? What wine could please your ruined tongue?
Wayward Wine is here to save you. We will crash and burn our way through candy and wine pairings to find if anything works.
– Orange Gummy Worms by Trolli Squiggles
From the ashes we will choose a winner and loser.
Let’s start with genesis: the first OOPS! A 2008 Amarone from Luigi Righetti:
Alone, this Amarone is pretty good (4 of 5) for $40, flaunting aromas and flavors of violets, clove, chocolate, burnt lavender, and dried cherry. The palate feels dry, with mouthwatering acids, burnt tannins, ample alcohol (14.5), medium body, and loads of length.
Sounds like a lovely thing for Halloween night. Right?
Wrong! Against the gummy worm, my wife cringes, “Oh god it’s so painfully dry, the palate is killing me. It ruins the length. Tastes like dried grass.” While I note that, “the worm tastes like dental toothpaste and junk bubble gum. The wine is no more than rubber and acid, very woody, bark, ash”.
But worst of all is the 3 Musketeers. All that remains is the smell of alcohol, acrid tannins, and awful. It tastes like leaves glazed in corn syrup. Clearly, nothing real survives in a 3 Musketeers.
The only viable candy is the Kitkat. The Amarone still seems jagged, closed, and tight with it. Sugar and artificial flavors frame our mouths. But, in the center, hides something like a nice red, with length, body, and some fruit, but barely.
AMARONE VERDICT: Just don’t.
Now, let us fight sweets with sweetness. Dessert wines, you’re our only hope.
SEIGNEURS DE MONBAZILLAC 2007:
This $11 value of a sweetie comes from Bordeaux in South Western France. It is all apricot, honeycomb, and rose water, like Indian Gulab Jamun. It just lacks acidity to make it more than good (3 of 5 points).
But can it stand up to our candy?
But true failure lays with the Licorice Bean. It tastes like eating an entire bicycle wheel: rubber, tire, dirt, roadkill, and all.
MONBAZILLAC VERDICT: Strangely, the 3 Musketeers resurrects itself. The wine’s fruit, acid, and body hold. Somehow they put up with each other.
It’s like Tim Curry, but 11 years after his epic Rocky Horror Picture Showmehow, he could still make glam out of junk:
But it’s still junk.
Now for that stalwart dessert of drunken Victorians: Port:
W & J Graham’s, Six Grapes, Reserve is nice entry-level ruby. It looks inky purple. Free of fructos, it smells of black olive and hot blackberry jam. It lacks acid, has decent tannins and viscous alcohol, and tastes like blackberry jam on gingerly burnt toast, with extra length. A solid good (3 of 5) for $13 a 375ml. But then:
The Reese’s makes the Port smell of pot, murderous wood, and dank hippy. The Snickers turns it into fake vanillin syrup and burnt herbs. Somehow, the Port “makes the Musketeers better” even if all we taste is fake sugar. But king of crap is the KitKat. The Portuguese smells of twigs and rubbing alcohol. Like putting Vaseline in, not on me.
PORT VERDICT: Victory, for the first time, goes to the Licorice. The wine’s acid glows, it smells of vanilla, and tastes like chocolate, but still tastes kinda horrid.
By now, this game wears on us. But maybe, just maybe, Cockburn’s (“Coh-burns”) longer-aged Fine Tawney Port might save us from this candy conundrum. In a vacuum, the Cockburn’s smells and tastes of smores (especially graham crackers), chocolate raspberry, and salty caramel. Acids hit high, tannins mellow, alcohol is omnipresent. It looks pink. A spicy, long, good (3 of 5) for $12 for a 750ml. Fruit flies love it.
But, Gummy Worms render it into burnt newspaper. Licorice Beans make it smell like coffee and poo. Reese’s turn it into “steel-painted awfulness”. Snicker’s spawn a festering mold of dried fruit leather and herbs. Eating a 3 Musketeers with it is akin to licking cinnamon bark. Somehow, the KitKat smells like apple cider, imitation baking vanillin.
COCKBURN VERDICT: By now, we’re dead. We leave and walk to the grocery store.
Upon return, we decide to give America a chance:
Yes, it’s Red Moscato. Yes, it has more apostrophes (Rose’n’blum’) than any other wine. But maybe, just maybe, cheap American candy will meld with cheap ($12) American wine. Any terroirist worth their salt would try.
Isolated, Rose’n’blum’ smells and tastes of peach-flavored cotton candy. Sugar cloys at our palates, but ok acid saves it from poor quality (acceptable: 2 of 5 points).
Gummy Worms and wine both taste equally fake: null point. Licorice Beans mutate it into a light, canned, orange syrup. Reese’s turn it into tart Lemonheads. The “wine’s” acid cleans our palates of all the peanut junk from the Snicker’s.
RED MOSCATO VERDICT: Somewhere, from the depths of hell, the 3 Musketeer’s turns the Red Moscato into a delicate array of blueberry and tart red fruit. Even the KitKat creates a peachy-keen nose. But the wine is still trash.
There are no winners, only losers here. Don’t pair Halloween candy with wine. Take a break. Drink water. Eat some cheese.
Once you stop tasting poison, switch completely over to the Monbazzilac, Port, or Tawny. They are great value entries into the world of sweetness, darkness, and getting through Halloween.
Trick & Treat
- Gummy candies, bubble sheets and trick questions. (grayzentattoo.wordpress.com)
- 10 Worst Halloween Candies Of All Time (kymx.cbslocal.com)
- 7 Crazy and Outrageous Halloween Candies from Stupid.com (prweb.com)
- Halloween Taste Test – Angry Birds Fruit Gummies (watkinslynn.typepad.com)
- 31 Days of Halloween – Day 10 (crowarrowinc.wordpress.com)