The One with the Homemade Cookies
So today is National Homemade Cookie Day, and I figured it would be fitting to share my extensive field research on cookie/wine pairings as of late.
So, right when quarantine was starting, I heard about Halfsies Cookie Company, which, if you follow my blogs/posts, you know I've been obsessed with ever since. Not that this whole blog is going to ramble on about these outstanding cookies, but just a short rambling...
Basically, this couple in New York spent 10 months experimenting in the kitchen and ultimately cracked the code on making the perfect cookie: we're talking crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, and the best flavor combinations, too. Every day they launch a line-up of cookies on their website at exactly 11:00am CST and every day, they are sold out within 90 seconds. If you want to try your luck on getting your hands on some, I do have a discount code for you:
Anyways, in the last several months, my husband Jazzy and I have sampled a variety of flavors: from Chocolate Chip to Snickerdoodle, to Pina Colada to Mint Chocolate and many in between. Here is a pairing list of some of our favorites and the wines they taste amaze-balls with (side note, the Candid Cork didn't exist yet when our cookie "research" began, so...I didn't take any cute cookie/wine photos like I would have liked to been able to post.)
Also, it's worth noting that while the cookies listed in this post are recipes from Halfsies, they translate really well to any dessert that uses the same flavor profile (for example, the pumpkin pie cookie pairing would go well with pumpkin pie and the Pina Colada cookie would be synonymous to a pineapple-upside down cake - you get the idea.)
So without further ado...let's get to pairing!
1. Chocolate Chip Cookie with Ruby Port
Why it works: Port is probably to most-known (and most loved) fortified dessert wine. It is definitely sweet enough to hold up against a chocolate chip cookie. The cocoa notes in the Port will emphasize the chocolate morsels in the cookie in the best of ways, while the red fruit notes will release a chocolate-covered cherry-esque explosion in your mouth. Mine is watering just thinking about it!
2. Snickerdoodle Cookie with Madeira
Why it works: Madeira is another fortified dessert wine from the Portuguese island of the same name. Featuring delectable nutty notes and a hint of baking spice, it pairs quite well with the cinnamon in the cookie. As if that's not reason enough, the bakers at Halfsies put sea salted caramel chips in their Snickerdoodles which pair PERFECTLY with the burnt caramel notes in Madeira. Don't believe me? Try it for yourself! Match made in heaven.
3. You Want a Reese's Piece of Me (Peanut Butter) Cookie with Zinfandel
Why it works: Ok, I will admit: when it comes to wine pairing, this one is a bit controversial, but everyone has their own distinct palate and in the world of wine, there really are no wrong answers! That being said, I stand by my convictions in saying a jammy, fruit bomb of a wine like a bold Zin is the perfect mate for a peanut butter cookie for the same reason peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a thing. What's the other side of the coin? Some people say a bold and jammy wine is too acidic and can cut through the richness of the peanut butter. These people just must not have tried a classic PB&J.....amirite though? Anyways, don't just take my word for it - give this pairing a try and report back in the comments below. - are you #teampeanutbutterjelly?
4. "Birthday Cake" Sugar Cookie with Prosecco
Why it works: This isn't a hugely technical explanation, but the "birthday cake" cookie (you know the one with the colorful sprinkle bits that kind of tastes like cake?) is often thought of as a celebratory dessert, just as the sound of a bottle popping is often linked to joyous occasions. (It's always funny to hear people say "Whooooo!" when they hear a bottle pop, even if they are mid conversation and across the room.) Anyways, the general context of these two items makes them a nice match in and of itself. In more technical terms, the light, airy texture of a bubbly pairs nicely with the fluffy texture a birthday cake cookie and the creamy note of the beverage is, quite literally, the icing on the cake! (well, cookie...)
5. Gingerbread Cookie with Riesling
Why it works: A friend of mine tipped me off to this pairing, and after sampling it, I can confirm: it is delightful. You'd think a spicy cookie would need to be paired with an even spicier wine, but quite the contrary! The heavy spice notes of the cookie balance perfectly with a the crisp, floral notes of the wine. I guess you could kind of compare this again to the PB&J combo - nutty and fruity flavors are made for each other just as baking spice and floral notes are. Sounds weird but...just trust me on this one!
6. "Dirty Rainbow" (Double Chocolate) Cookie with Lambrusco
Why it works: I'm not a huge fan of double chocolate myself, but my husband sure is and he would attest that this sweet, sparkling beverage is the perfect mate to an extra chocolatey dessert. The strawberry notes will create a chocolate-covered-berry-like experience in your mouth, plus the bubbles in the Lambrusco do something magical to break up all that gooey chocolatey goodness.
7. Pina Colada Cookie with Sauvignon Blanc
Why it works: If you've had a Sauv Blanc from New Zealand, you may remember one distinct note jumping out at you...passionfruit! The tropical fruit notes in this wine will bring out the pineapple in the cookie and when you add the coconut...you will feel like you've transported to a tropical beach...(which let's just admit, the way 2020 has been going, we all could use a little escape!)
8. Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie with Syrah
Why it works: Syrah has natural flavors of mint, clove, or even eucalyptus, which creates a nice pairing with a dessert containing similar flavors. The oak notes of the Syrah often resemble milk chocolate or espresso - characteristics that blend perfectly with chocolate. Essentially, Syrah has complex notes that will bring out the best of the traditional mint/chocolate duo.
9. "Scotch on the Rocks" (Butterscotch and/or Raisin) Cookie with Tawny Port
Why it works: The Halfsies version of this cookie contains a 2:1 ratio of butterscotch chips to raisins. It pairs perfectly with a tawny port that's been barrel aged to enhance its definitive dried fruit and raisin notes. Plus, the aging of the port brings out tantalizing flavors of butterscotch, caramel, toffee, and baking spices which compliment butterscotch and raisin-based desserts perfectly. Lastly, this fortified wine is sweet enough to hold up to these sweet little morsels we love in our desserts (scotch-a-roos, anyone??!)
10. Pumpkin Spice Cookie with Pinot Gris
Why it works: Pinot Gris is a mutation of pinot noir that is acidic, sweet, and crisp - all at the same time. With notes ranging from almond to orange blossom to ginger, clove, and cream, this wine features many of our favorite fall flavors making it the perfect match for pumpkin spice anything. Plus, since this grape varietal can produce a wide range of wines - from dry to sweet, there are plenty of options to choose from, though I would pick a something on the sweeter end to hold up against this sweet little treat.
You can use this little guide to help you pair some of your favorite fall and Holiday desserts since that time of year is just around the corner! Just remember, everyone's palate will be different so feel free to experiment and let me know your favorite dessert/wine pairings below. There are no wrong answers; in the game of wine...everybody wins.
Cheers, Corkers, and happy National Homemade Cookie Day!