The Best Candy Pairings for Wine, Beer, Spirits, and Fruit You Have Never Heard Of

Candy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when pairing alcohol with food. And candy is not typically combined with fruit in a dessert. We generally select salty, savory, or acidic flavors to accompany alcoholic beverages. The same approach is used for composing a fruit tray. However, you’ll miss experiencing the subtle contrasts and balances candy brings to these pairings if you don’t include them. Candy is perfect when you want just a little something sweet to go with your after-dinner beverage or fruit selection.  A variety of candies make good pairings; however, chocolate is the most versatile but not the only choice. There are a few basic guidelines for pairing flavors. Heavier, full-bodied wines, beer, and spirits can handle the darker chocolates and caramels. Lighter bodied drinks call for sour drops, gummies, milk or white chocolate.

Dark beers pair well with milk or dark chocolate. Candy bars with chocolate, wafers, and peanut butter enhance the roasted, malty flavors of stouts and porters. Refresh your palate between sips of IPA with cinnamon red hots. Candy corn or red licorice complement cream ales and pilsners. Saison’s slightly tart flavor goes well with fruity hard or gummy candies.

In general, wines should be sweeter than they’re paired with. For example, Riesling, Moscato, and Tokaji balanced white chocolate’s buttery flavor. Sour candies also play well against Riesling’s sweetness. Sparkling wines also pair well with white chocolate and chocolates with caramel. Milk chocolate is a good pairing for full-bodied wines like Port, Pinot Noir, and Gewurztraminer. The tannins in dark chocolate balance the fruitiness of Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.

Almost any chocolate will complement a liqueur-like Chambord or Amaretto, but chocolate infused with fruit flavor are excellent choices. Full-bodied spirits such as bourbon and rye are complemented by milk chocolate, caramels, and candy bars with nuts, wafers, and nougat. Scotch’s assertive character needs dark chocolate for a balanced pairing. Rum and chocolate, especially combined with almonds or marzipan, will mimic Tiki cocktails. Chocolate and tequila are a good combination, especially fruit-flavored chocolate or mint with chocolate.

All three types of chocolate have been used in fruit desserts for hundreds of years. Similar to the alcohol pairings, dark or milk chocolate goes well with sweeter fruits while white chocolate is a good balance for acidic fruits. Try pairing bananas, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and coconut with milk or dark chocolate. The acidic punch of blueberries, oranges, pomegranate, prunes, lemons, and blackberries are complemented by white chocolate. You should have a variety of fruits for sampling with chocolate because the fruit’s degree of ripeness will influence your choice of best pairing. There really aren't any hard and fast rules about candy pairings, although there are several that are universally enjoyed. The best pairings will be based on your personal taste in beverages, fruit, and candy.