The Perfect Costume Deserves the Perfect Pairing

You do it every year, pull out that tired old punch bowl that looks like a caldron and spike it with whatever’s in your liquor cabinet.

Then, you grab a block of dried ice and hope that no one will notice you just threw anything together for your annual Halloween party. I was guilty of this for years before I realized I could actually pair treats like spider infested caramel popcorn, spaghetti with eyeballs and ghost cake pops together with wine. I came to the conclusion that if I was going to go all out on planning the perfect costume, decorations and party favors, I might as well make it an evening to remember by pouring a glass of deliciously paired vino.

My dishes, including an assortment of Halloween candies, are taken to the next level by incorporating just the right wine. And although finding the perfect wine can be a bit tricky, experimenting is the fun part!

A few Halloween inspired pairings you should try:

  • Reese’s Peanut Buttercups with Amontillado Sherry or Vintage Port
  • Twix with Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah
  • Kit Kat with Merlot or Malbec
  • Caramel Popcorn Spider Balls with Oregon Riesling or demi-sec Champagne
  • Candy Corn with a sweet Riesling, Tawny Port or Ice Wine
  • Spaghetti and Eyeballs with Zinfandel or Nero d’ Avola
  • Garlic Sticks and Marinara Sauce with Barbera or Dolcetto
  • Caramel Apple with Riesling or Amontillado Sherry
  • Pumpkin Pancakes with sweet Riesling or Viognier

Leslie at Case Noble

Agave harvesting at it’s best. Head Thirsty Girl, Leslie Sbrocco shows us how to harvest AND cook with agave … now all we need is the tequila. Cheers!

Cooking with agave at Case Noble

Harvesting agave

My Favorite Ghirardelli Pairing

In case you’ve missed our most recent post, Head Thirsty Girl Leslie Sbrocco is talking wine and chocolate on Wednesday October 5th in our In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In fact, Thirsty Girl is teaming up with Ghirardelli for a fabulous Twitter tasting of their “Intense Dark.™” We’re excited to announce this #TGTaste Twitter chat on Wednesday October 5 at 5 PM PST (8 PM EST).

My favorite pairing is featured below, as Leslie explains the perfect pairing for Ghirardelli Intense Dark.™ Twilight Delight (%72 Cacao). Since I’m all about the sweets, the flavor combination of red velvet cake and zinfandel might encourage you to pull out that mixer and bake a cake … or open a box and follow directions … or just stop by any gourmet cupcake shop, they’re on every corner now right?

Barbeque Brawl with Leslie Sbrocco and Ray Isle

It’s “He Said, She Said” time again with Leslie Sbrocco, founder of Thirsty Girl, and Ray Isle, wine editor of Food & Wine Magazine, leading Kathie Lee and Hoda on the fourth hour of the Today Show through upcoming Labor Day weekend drinks choices. Whether it’s spicy catfish on the grill, vegetable kabobs or sizzling steak, these barbeque sip options will please everyone.

With spicy shrimp or Cajun catfish:Leslie and Ray

Leslie Pick: 2010 Elk Cove Pinot Gris Willamette Valley, Oregon $19

This fruity but dry wine expresses the fun of Pinot Gris. Its vibrant character is an ideal match for quenching your thirst after spicy fare. It’s also a top warm-weather alternative to Chardonnay.

Ray Pick: Aperol Spritz Cocktail $22

An Aperol Spritz—which is made with Aperol, an aperitif that’s like Campari but not as bitter—is the classic start-the-evening drink of Venice and Verona. It’s prosecco, Aperol, and club soda … so it’s not too high-alcohol, too. Plus it’s a touchsweet, which goes great with spicy foods.

With BBQ Chicken (spicy and sweeter sauces):

Ray’s Pick: Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale $5 (for one pint)

Samuel Smith’s is a rich, caramelly, dark, English ale, which marries well with any kind of spicy barbeque sauce.

Leslie pick: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey $24 (a blend of Jack Daniels famous Old No. 7 Tennessee whiskey and honey liquor) and Stone’s Original Ginger Wine $13.00 (wine infused with ginger)

Honey Drop Punch: Leslie’s original punch recipe is lightly sweet and refreshing making it a daringly delicious pairing for sweeter barbeque sauces or honey-glazed chicken. (Serves approximately 10 cocktails)

· 1 cup (8 Oz)Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey

· 1 cup (8 Oz)Stone’s Original Ginger Wine

· 2 cups (16 oz) Unsweetened Lemonade

· 2 cups (16 oz) Ginger Ale

Combine all liquids into glass pitcher, stir, then add ice, squeeze in fresh lime or lemon juice and garnish with mint.

With vegetable kabobs drizzled with balsamic vinegar:

Ray’s Pick: Nino Franco Prosecco, Italy $16

With vegetables, you want something light and refreshing. Prosecco, the sparkling wine of Italy, is a great choice and Nino Franco is one of the best and affordable producers.

Leslie’s Pick: 2010 Yalumba Sangiovese Rose, Australia $12

A dry-style rose from Australia, this pretty pink goes as easily with the earthy vegetable kabobs as it does with fish or meat. Made from sangoivese grapes, it’s spicy, floral and packed with fruitiness.

*Both wines were served in the GoVino Glassware, which is easy to use, unbreakable, washable and the ideal option for outdoor parties.

With steak off the grill…

Leslie’s pick: 2008 Hearst Ranch “Three Sisters” Red Cuvee, Paso Robles, California $20

A blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre, this smooth yet hearty red complements the grass-fed Hearst Ranch steaks beautifully. For Hearst Ranch steaks.

Ray’s Pick: 2008 Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington $15

An utterly classic pairing – the tannins in Cabernet cut through the fat of the meat, plus the flavors just work so well together. Chateau Ste Michelle’s Columbia Valley bottling is one of the best deals out there.

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Olive Oil: Drink it, Cook with it, Add it to Your Beauty Regimen

Leslie Sbrocco talks about olive oil (one of her favorite things) with Gene Sexton and Beth Sylver of Sylverleaf Olive Oil. Stumbling upon olive oil making by accident, the two share how they harvest over 1,110 spanish olive trees (just about 104 years old) and create oil that is soft and fruity. Believe it or not olive oil is very similar to wine in that it’s characteristics are unique to region, varietal and crafter. Drink it, cook with it, add it to your beauty regiment. I mean is there a limit to the uses of olive oil?