Why should kids have all the trick-or-treat fun this time of year? That’s the thinking at Cleveland Park’s month-old Little Blackbird, which invites adult diners to indulge in wine-and-Halloween candy pairings starting tonight, Monday, October 16, through Sunday, November 5.
Each mass-produced sugary staple, presented tableside on a sleek white plate, comes with a sommelier-selected, 5-ounce pour ($14-$17). So what wines go nicely with American consumerism in the candy aisle? Turns out chardonnay compliments candy corn, and sweet dessert wine is a fine friend of marshmallowy Circus Peanuts.
Candy pairing rules generally follow those of food, notes Knightsbridge Restaurant Group wine director Ron Balter.
“If the candy is light and bright, so should the wine. If the candy is rich and complete, a fuller-bodied, richer wine should be paired,” he says.
Little Blackbird also applies that ethos to its year-round “playful pairings” section. Since opening in September in the old Bardeo space (3309 Connecticut Avenue NW), Little Blackbird has served savory Cheetos with sauvignon blanc; Almond Joy alongside sweet French Sauternes; and cream sherry with Oreo cookies. Acclaimed downtown speakeasy Allegory has long toyed with the high-brow, low-brow trend by pairing a single Pringle with caviar and a chilled shot of Ketel One.
At Little Blackbird, the core menu centers around globe-trotting dishes like hearth-roasted halloumi, squash gnocchi, and Icelandic cod. For a bonafide dessert, chef Ryan Moore’s single malt butterscotch pudding — a sweet and boozy treat made with 10-year-old Scotch whisky mixed straight in — is not to miss.
Here’s the full list of Little Blackbird’s Halloween pairings, plus tasting notes and tips for matchmaking wine with bite-sized leftovers at home:
Chardonnay & Candy Corn: With its woodsy and vanilla characteristics, sips of oaked chardonnay offer a nice contrast to the intense sweetness of candy corn. (And because super-sugary candy can make dry wines taste “astringent and bitter,” Balter also suggests cutting the sweetness with light, fruity, and unoaked reds.)
Amontillado Sherry & Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: Sherry’s somewhat dry, yet nutty, notes of tobacco, toasted cedar, and hazelnut provide a rich counterpart to the Hershey’s candy.
Orange Muscat & Circus Peanuts: Circus Peanuts have a neutral and chewy texture that screams for acid and sweetness, both of which the dessert wine offers.
Blanc De Blanc Sparkling Wine & Fun Dip: The effervescent complexity of Blanc De Blanc adds depth to the one-note powdery candy.
Little Blackbird is open Sunday through Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Mega-D.C. restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s Knightsbridge Restaurant Group also runs Rasika, Bombay Club, Modena, and La Bise.