After a dozen years in the restaurant biz, I tend to think I understand the various “food seasons” of the year, whether it’s the first spring vegetables that show their faces in early March, or the peak of blackberry season in September. Yet there’s one season that always seems to catch me by surprise: Girl Scout cookie season.
One day, I’m minding my own business, walking out of the grocery store, and the next thing I know, I’ve got five boxes of Thin Mints staring me in the eye just daring me to eat them all.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that pairing wine with cookies isn’t exactly easy (though it’s still better than milk), and to some extent sweet foods with dry wines is asking for trouble, but what the hell, I like a challenge.
Mint and chocolate is a delightful combo, and fortunately happens to pair wonderfully with Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, which just so happens to also have both strong mint and chocolate notes. You can also experiment with other members of the Cabernet family, in particular Carmenere, if you want to broaden your horizons.
Besides chocolate, what’s the best natural pairing for peanut butter? That’s right, jelly! So we’re looking for a fruit-driven wine that maybe also packs a touch of residual sugar. In my world, that’s almost always Zinfandel, something from a warmer place like Lodi or Napa.
Shortbread is a natural pairing with sparkling wine, and in this case I’m looking at a Reserva-level Cava from Spain, something that spent a fair amount of time aging so that it’s really developed the rich notes of brioche and clotted cream that will make this under-loved cookie pop!
Well, this is a bit of a toughie, but I think we’ll work with the coconut and caramel and let the chocolate take care of itself. I’m thinking of a big, oaky Chardonnay, something with a hint of tropical fruit to compliment the coconut and a good deal of butter and vanilla to work with that caramel. Napa Valley or Australia would be good places to start.
The combination of peanut butter and oatmeal makes for a bit of a complicated pairing, but in this case I think a richer, more oxidative white wine is just perfect. I’m thinking of a Roussanne-Marsanne blend from France’s Rhone Valley, where you’ll get some of those same nutty flavors and a delightfully full body without ODing on oak.
So there you go; maybe you should stock up on these wines before your next trip to the grocery store, just to be safe.