The Best Wine Pairings for Your Favorite Valentine's Day Candy, According to Sommeliers
It’s time to get sweet on Valentine’s candy. And it’s not just in those heart-shape boxes, though there are plenty of those. If your significant other got you a box of chocolate-covered strawberries or you bought every bag of conversation hearts off the shelf in excitement, here’s the Valentine’s Day wine pairing to match. But just as there’s no rule book about what a perfect relationship looks like, know that you have some flexibility with your wine and candy pairings. “Pairing Valentine’s Day candy and wine isn’t brain surgery. I don’t believe we need to get too technical or too precious with the wine and candy pairings. Ultimately, what tastes good to you is the perfect pairing. These are just a few suggestions to get you started,” says Brianne Cohen, a Los Angeles-based certified sommelier, wine educator, judge, and writer.
The 6 Best Valentine’s Day Wine Pairings for Your Favorite Candies
We asked Cohen and David Choi, the proprietor of Magna Carta Cellars and Angel Falls Wines in Napa Valley, California, to select the best wine for Valentine's Day to pick up and partner with popular candies and confections.
Try one or sample your way through them all to see which candy and wine pairing you love most. (Psst…if you don’t finish the bottle, consider transferring it to this wine preserver that can keep the juice tasting fresh for up to one week!)
Hershey’s Kisses and Zinfandel
Yes, you can get Kisses year round (and for Valentine’s Day there’s even a lava cake version), but with ‘kiss’ in the name they land firmly in Valentine territory.
Cohen suggests going big and bold with this Valentine’s Day wine pairing, just as you might with a kiss for someone you love.
“Zinfandel generally serves up big, juicy dark fruit vibes, which plays well with milk chocolate. The richness of the Zin with rich milk chocolate is the ‘more is more’ food and wine pairing approach,” she says. “We’re stepping into the richness of the chocolate with a rich wine.”
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries and Sparkling Rosé
Clearly, this isn’t technically a candy, but if we don't consume chocolate-covered strawberries did Valentine’s Day even happen? Well, yeah, but we refuse to accept it. There are many marvelous wines that go with chocolate-covered strawberries, but Choi and Cohen agree on the best of the best.
The romantic dessert will bring out the vibrant fruit notes in the bubbly pink wine, and the “bright acidity and bubbles accentuate the strawberry flavors even more and pair with the chocolate just so nicely,” Choi says.
Beyond the complementary flavors, this Valentine’s Day wine pairing is “more about the emotions and feelings each brings,” Cohen says. “Chocolate-covered strawberries and sparkling rosé are two romantic things to be enjoyed together. Yes, the strawberries will bring out the red berry notes in a pink sparkler, but it’s more about enjoying the two together—especially with your special someone who you might be enjoying the pairing with!”
Reese’s Peanut Butter Hearts and Tawny Port
We love Reese’s peanut butter cups, hearts, eggs, trees—all the styles! (BTW, you’re not crazy if you think these “special shapes” taste different than the original Reese’s. Here’s why many snackers prefer the limited-edition chocolate-peanut butter treats.)
You’ll love them even more when you sit down and share the ultimate wine and candy pairing that once again, Choi and Cohen agree upon.
“Tawny Port is a great pairing with any chocolate. The sweet nutty flavor of the Tawny Port complements the nuttiness so perfectly,” Choi says.
When most people think of Port, they think of sweet red Ruby Port, Cohen says. Tawny Port, however, “is made a bit differently. The wine is aged in small oak barrels, giving it a different color and taste profile. Tawny Ports are brown in color and are usually a touch less sweet than Ruby Ports. Also, their aromas and flavors lean more towards nuttiness and caramel flavors. Perfect for your peanut butter hearts!”
Cinnamon Hearts and Malbec
We’re not talking red hots here, but those larger seriously cinnamon-y hearts you can only find around this holiday. Choi says Malbec is the ideal partner because the tannins can take the heat while a hint of spice in the wine plays nicely with the candy.
Beyond its plump, dark fruit flavors and smoky finish, Malbec is a beauty to add to your wine and candy pairing line-up. After pouring, you should be able to notice a nearly opaque, rich purple-red hue with a magenta-esque rim near the top.
Ferrero Rocher and Madeira
Another candy available year-round, Ferrero Rocher feels like a special Valentine’s treat thanks, in part, to the fancy gold wrapper. Plus, they make all kinds of Valentine’s packaging for the treat. The ideal Valentine’s Day wine pairing for this poppable treat is this fortified dessert wine because, “many Madeiras are a touch off-dry, meaning barely sweet,” Cohen says.
Ferrero-Rocher is such a decadent treat with the creamy chocolate, generous hazelnuts, and the thin wafer layer.
“A tough treat to pair, but the only way is to dive head first into the nuttiness,” she continues. “Madeira serves up oodles and oodles of nuttiness both on the nose and the palate. A match made in heaven.”
Sour Gummy Hearts and Riesling
We hope your union never feels sour, but we adore the lip-puckering qualities of these sugar-dusted hearts. Its punchy, tangy flavors can be a challenge to pair, though.
But Choi has landed on a lovely option, which just so happens to be one of the best wines for Valentine's Day dinners like fish and seafood, chicken, and nearly any form of spicy restaurant fare, too.
“Riesling is perfect to complement the sweet and sour flavors. The sweetness of the wine balances out the tartness of the sour candy,” he explains.
When in doubt about the Valentine’s Day wine pairing to invest in, especially if you just want to choose just one, consider Lambrusco (such as 2020 Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Castelvetro Vigneto Cialdini; $20, Wine.com). It’s a “light sparkling wine from Northern Italy with bright berry flavors,” Choi says. And if you pair it with any candy with nutty elements, “it tastes like a PB&J.”
Bubbly, berry-forward, and ruby-hued—what’s not to love?