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The Modern's Michaël Engelmann Offers Tips on Pairing Wine With Candy

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Michaël Engelmann is one of very few humans to have passed the Master Sommelier exam on the first try. And as of late last summer, the native Frenchman has been ensconced at The Modern within the Museum of Modern Art in New York, commanding an extensive array of vintage wines from around the world. Protip: For those keen on riesling, he's got some tricks up his sleeve. But below, Engelmann expounds on wine and candy.

Q: With Easter just a few days away, I expect to consume more candy than usual. Which got me thinking ... is it possible to pair wine with candy? What would I drink with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, Skittles, and Starburst?

Engelmann: Wine and candy are two of my favorite things. If they are so great on their own … why not put them together? Having grown-up overseas, when it came down to actually pairing two of my favorite vices, I wasn’t as familiar with some of the American candies as those who have grown-up here. So, to take on this arduous task, I went candy shopping. To avoid a stomachache and a wicked hangover, I asked my talented team of sommeliers at The Modern to join in the fun. Here are some of the pairings that worked best.

There are about as many wines to go with peanut butter cups as there are ways to eat them. The Lustau ‘Solera Reserve’ East India Sherry ($24) is a favorite for dessert pairings at The Modern, and was quite delicious when paired with Reese's. This rich, dark, fortified wine displays coffee and caramel flavors, with an interesting salty note that married nicely with the peanut butter. While rich, it is not cloying. Another favorite, from Italy this time, is the 2004 Fattoria di Felsina Vin Santo ($46 for 375ml). Coming from one of the great producers in the region and showing the classic Vin Santo qualities of caramel, dried apricot, and nutty notes. Not a classic pairing, but a delicious one.

How does that saying go? "Not going anywhere for a while? Then grab a slightly chilled Grenache from the Southern Rhone." Domaine Gramenon Poignée de Raisins ($24) is a fun wine from a leading producer in that part of France. The wine is full of pure, deep black fruit and spicy notes, the juicy palate makes the wine quite easy to drink. Craving something fuller bodied? The 2001 Niepoort Colheita Port ($26 for 375ml) is stunning. A refined Port with complex dried fruits and nutty notes. If you liked peanut butter and jelly sandwiches growing up, then you’ll love these pairings as an adult!

... we blind tasted the grape Skittles to determine what specific grape varietal they came from. After three handfuls it was obvious they were made with juice from Gamay ...

When it came to the Skittles, it was clear that something light and slightly fizzy would do the trick, especially with the strawberry or grape flavor. Prior to choosing a wine, we blind tasted the grape Skittles to determine what specific grape varietal they came from. After three handfuls it was obvious they were made with juice from Gamay, so we set out to find Patrick Bottex Bugey-Cerdon ($16), which coincidentally is made with the same grape (although a little less adulterated). In order to really taste the rainbow, we recommend three purple, two red, three green, one orange and one yellow washed down with a glass of wine. We call that the "Buzzy Cerdon."

With so many varietals of Starburst, we had no choice but to try all the flavors to find the perfect pairing. The 2009 Schramsberg Crémant Demi-Sec ($29) has a creamy sweetness and crisp acidity that pairs delightfully with the selection of different flavors in both Starburst packages. Drop an orange one in your Champagne flute and you’ve got yourself a mimosa. Drop in a grape one, and you’ve just made a Kir Royal! If you’re in a tropical mood and want to snack on some lemon or piña colada flavors, the 2013 Hermann J. Wiemer Semi-Dry Riesling ($15) is a match made for Willy Wonka. This Riesling hails from the Finger Lakes. It has a gentle sweetness with lemon curd and juicy mango notes. With the cherry or strawberry squares, try a Beaujolais. I recommend the 2012 Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Fleurie (bargain at $22), a delicious and very easy to drink red wine full of cherry and strawberry notes. The 2012 Tyler Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County ($36) with its juicy and smooth fruit works very well too.

Photo by Nathan Rawlinson

The Modern

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