Wine Pairings Have Jumped the Shark

“Jumped the Shark” is a TV term coined when an episode of Happy Days featured Fonzie jumping over a shark on water skis while wearing his iconic leather jacket. It was such a ridiculous plot line that it pushed the show way over the edge and it never recovered. From that point on “jumped the shark” meant the downhill slide of an otherwise good TV series.  It can apply to other things as well.

As Halloween approaches, we’re bombarded with blogs and articles touting how great wine pairings can be with candy.  I just got a wine sample set with 2 bottles of wine and a bag of Halloween candy from a publicist pitching how great the Chardonnay goes with candy corn and that the Pinot Noir is the perfect match with chocolate covered peanut butter cups.  Give me a break.

This pushed me over the edge. Wine pairings have now jumped the shark.   Who says wine has to go with everything?

We don’t have this obsessive need to pair Scotch or beer with everything, although beer often works when wine doesn’t.  What is it about wine that makes us want to find food pairings, and the crazier the better, to go with it?  I suspect it’s got something to do with making wine more approachable and easy to understand.  Champagne and oysters may come across as hoity toity, but Champagne and potato chips?  Now bubbles are an everyman’s drink.  Pinot Noir and duck? Too fancy.  Pinot and hotdogs?  Now we’re talking.

Wine blogger Tyler Colman, known as Dr. Vino, and author of A Year in  Wine about food pairings, runs a regular feature “impossible food-wine pairing?”  He throws out impossible foods like sauerkraut, pancakes and cranberry sauce.  He challenges his readers to recommend wine or to agree that it is an impossible pairing, including Halloween candy in 2009.

I asked about this combo.  “While candy can be fun and wine is definitely fun, two great things don’t necessarily work well together. While putting chocolate and peanut butter together worked for the folks at Reese’s, wine and chocolate (or peanut butter) may prove more trick than treat,” Tyler says.

If anything, I’ll be drinking hot chocolate or hot mulled apple cider.  Although I may follow in a neighbor’s footsteps who showed up on our doorstep trick or treating as the kids held bags for candy and she held a glass of red wine. Too bad I didn’t have a bottle handy for a refill.

So let’s give wine and food pairings a rest.  Alas, with Thanksgiving coming up, that’s already proving impossible.  The press releases and pitches about what wines go with turkey and dressing are already filling my in box.  The latest is for $15 wines.  What’s next?  Oh I know, wine and Christmas cookies.  Buttercream frosting goes so well with Sauternes.






  1. Ditto, slow clap, and an “oh hell, no.”. Pairing wine and candy (much less promoting that as a desirable goal) is just plain wrong.

  2. Pingback: Food and Wine Pairing Extremes - Wine Doesn't Go With Everything

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