Pairing Off: Snickers

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Each week, Pairing Off attempts to find just the right bottle of wine to go with ordinary food.

It's funny what foods frighten the wine experts.

When I began calling around about this week's pairing, I expected nods to certain reds that go well with chocolate. But the guy at Dallas Fine Wine & Spirits blurted "I have to think about it"--and hung up without taking my number.

Happens a lot, come to think about it. Just more often this week. At least Richard O'Neill at Centennial took a moment--during which, I assume, he planned to drop the receiver--and then said "that's a tough one."

The problem, it seems, is all of that nougat and caramel. Chocolate has a distinct flavor that needs a bold wine willing to tussle with bitter and sweet notes. The other elements of a Snickers bar, however, require something more subtle.

"The ingredient that makes it difficult is the caramel," O'Neill explained. He recommends Port--which can battle the chocolate and still match the rich, creamy nougat and caramel combination.

Unfortunately, I happened to stop by the Sigel's in Legacy (formerly Vin Classic), where they're not allowed to sell anything approaching 20 percent alcohol. Might cause debauchery and perhaps lead to socialism, you understand--so it's a wise precaution.

Instead, the clerk pointed me toward some dessert wines--a 2006 Muscat from Domaine de Beaumalric, clocking in at a safe 15 percent.

I like the idea of a white dessert wine to go along with mass produced chocolate (and nougat, etc). The Muscat breathes nicely, with pungent "noble rot" surrounding the aroma of dried figs, apricot, honey and something like twigs. But the real measure of this wine is on the palate, where it rolls out softly, with peach and heather, some spice and a juicy finish.

It's an enjoyable dessert wine for about $16--although, quite honestly, it loses something in the pairing. When set against the Snickers bar, the wine turns slightly bitter. On the other hand, it does tug on the caramel, smoothing it into a flavor similar to cream candy.

I guess it's not a bad pairing. But the wine is better off on its own, in this case.

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