Girl Scout Cookie Pairing Party Mash Up

Girl Scout cookies and wines.

By now you’ve probably seen them. Maybe they’re waiting for you as you emerge from the grocery store. Or maybe they’re lying in wait to tempt you as you leave the gym. They might have even come to your door. Adorable little gals cheerfully peddling colorful boxes of COOKIES. If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually give in and buy a box . . . or a few. (I bought two boxes this morning.)


You might suddenly find your shelves a little crowded. What to do with this bounty of Girl Scout Cookies? How about a cookie pairing party?! Once upon a time (I’ve been meaning to post this for a while) my friend Dee found that the boxes had piled up and she needed to clear the cookie deck. Dee is also a wine geek with a husband that works in the wine biz. She decided that the best way to make room in her pantry would be to invite a few of us friends over for cookies and wine. We gathered a bunch of bottles and paired away. SOOOOOO MUCH FUN!




There are quite a few infographics and articles out there with Girl Scout Cookie (GSC) pairing suggestions. I’ve gotta say, however, that I’ve often viewed these with skepticism. The pairings just don't jive in my head. Often there are pretty dry wines recommended for really sweet cookies. A lot of people are not going to like hearing (reading) this, but for the most part that just doesn’t work.


The general rule of thumb is that you want your wine to be sweeter than your food. A super dry wine will turn into a sour mess in your mouth alongside a sugary bite. Think about taking a sip of orange juice right after brushing your teeth in the morning. That’s kind of the effect here. In most cases, you actually need some sweetness, or at very least some substantial fruitiness, for the pairing to work.


Nonetheless, we put a few dry wines in the mix to test the theory, along with some sweeter options. Here are our discoveries organized by the five cookies we tried and the grades we gave to the matches. 




Trefoils


Let’s start off with the simplest of the GSC’s–the Trefoil, aka simply Shortbread, depending on where you are. It’s pretty simple and not super sweet, which probably allows for some leeway on this one.  


Trefoils.


We tried sampled this with Weingut Eifel-Pfeifer 'Heinz Eifel' Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany 2015. Auslese Rieslings typically have a nice combo of sweetness with lots of refreshing acidity, making them a great pairing for a lot of desserts. I tend to like them with fruity treats, but we figured that it would also make a solid match for these shortbread cookies. 


Weingut Eifel-Pfeifer 'Heinz Eifel' Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany 2015.


This was a really pretty Auslese and showed notes of peach sauce, lemon curd, and grapefruit candy. It made for a really solid match with the cookies. It wasn’t too syrupy to begin with and it became a bit drier alongside the cookies. The pairing also brought out a lemony note in the cookies. It was like drinking a bright, happy lemonade. Winesearcher.com has the average price on this at $14, which is a crazy good deal on an Auslese wine.

If Auslese is too sweet for you, I think you might be able to go to a Spätlese, a riper Kabinett (see note below), or other off-dry Riesling, but I wouldn’t go tooooooo much drier than that. At very least you’ll want some ripe fruit in there. (Kind of curious as to how a ripe, buttery Chardonnay would work.) While these cookies aren’t super sweet, that sugar is still in there.

Pairing Grade: A -

Trefoils with Weingut Eifel-Pfeifer 'Heinz Eifel' Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany 2015.

Note:  Auslese, Spätlese, Kabinett – A lot of you are probably like WTF are you talking about with these words. They’re in reference to Pradikatswein, the German classification system based on the grape’s level of sugar ripeness at the time of harvest. The higher the sugar level in the grape, the higher the potential alcohol and/or sugar level in the final wine. While this is not necessarily a measure of sweetness in the wine, there is often a correlation. (Yeah, I know that’s confusing.) See here for a more in-depth explanation. 

Thin Mints

This might be my favorite GSC. It wasn’t when I was a kid, but now I gravitate towards this one partly because it’s not super sweet. That same quality made us think this might be one of our best bets for a drier wine pairing.

Thin Mints.


We tried the Ghost Block Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 from Yountville, California. The wine was ripe without being heavy, and well structured. It had all the dark and red fruit notes you’d hope for from a Cali Cab. 


Ghost Block Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014.
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Pyrazines, a compound found in Cabernet and other related grapes, bring green notes like bell peppers and herbs to the wine. Here that green note worked really and played up the mint factor. However, the wine also lost some of its fruitiness when sampled next to the cookie. Nonetheless, not a bad match, particularly if you’re looking for dry wine pairing for this cookie.


With an average price of $103 this is a wild high-low combo. That said you can swap in a more moderately priced Cab and the fruitier, the better.


Pairing Grade: B


We had a couple different wines to mix and match with our last three cookies: Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, and Samoas. All three of these cookies have some flavor notes in common that we figured would call for similar wines. They’re also all pretty sweet and seemed to need wines to match. We played around with we the Quinta Do Infatado Medium-Dry Tawny Port and Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez Jerez Dulce. (Both NV.)


Quinta Do Infatado Medium-Dry Tawny Port.


Tawny Ports are made in an oxidative style that lends them a lot of really nutty flavors. The Quinta do Infatado is Medium-Dry, so it has sweetness, but it’s not crazy sweet.  It showed notes of caramel, a little orange zest, and a bit of candied cherry. In fact, I found that cherry/berry was prominent enough that this wine kind seemed to be a step in the direction of Ruby Ports, which show more of those red fruit notes. (Average price: $17.)

Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez Jerez Dulce.


Pedro Ximenez (PX) Sherries are made from super ripe or raisinated grapes. These wines are INTENSELY sweet. They’re pretty much the end of the line on the sweetness spectrum in wine. However, they can also be really complex. They tend to have notes of dried fruits like fig and dates, as well as some nutty notes. The Gonzalez Byass definitely had the notes of dried fruits with hazelnuts and caramel. (Average price: $16.)

We figured the nutty notes in both of these wines would make them good contenders to pair with all three of these cookies. 

Do-Si-Dos



 Do-Si-Do's.

These peanut butter sandwiches are super nutty, and the PX really played that up. Pick this if you want all out nuttiness. 


PX Pairing Grade:  A-


The hints of berries and cherries surprised us and really came out to play alongside the Do-Si-Dos. The effect was like a PB&J. This is not my favorite GSC by a long shot, but I liked it a whole lot more in this combo. It was our favorite pairing of the day!


Tawny Port Pairing Grade: A+


Do-Si-Do's with Quinta Do Infatado Medium-Dry Tawny Port.
Our favorite pairing of the day also happened to color coordinate.


Tagalongs


Tagalongs.

The peanut butter and chocolate patties were my faves as a kid. I still love the combo but wish they came in dark chocolate. (Hint, hint, GSC bakers.) Nonetheless, they’re still pretty freak’n tasty.


Whereas the berry notes came out in the Tawny Port with the Do-Si-Dos, the nutty, oxidative notes came out more with the Tagalongs. This is an easy match.  


On the flip side, the PX brought out a caramel note in the cookies. It also pairs solidly well with the Tagalongs

Pairing Grade for both the Tawny Port and the PX: A



Samoas
Samoas.


The coconut, caramel, chocolate combo in the Samoas is a winner; however, I can never have more than or two of these at a time because they’re soooooo sweet. I figured it was going to be a challenge for just about any wine.


That sugar factor did, in fact, challenge our medium-dry Tawny Port. The fruit soured a little bit next to this cookie, but it wasn’t a bad match on the whole. That turn was even possibly a good thing as it did balance the overall sweetness of the combo a notch.


Tawny Pairing Grade: B+

The PX brought out the caramel in the cookies. The cookies, in turn, took down the sweetness in the wine a bit, and the combo also brought out hints of coffee in the wine. You might go into a little bit of sugar shock sipping the PX alongside the Samoas, nonetheless, it’s otherwise a pretty good match. Maybe just a sip and a nibble will do.

PX Pairing Grade: A-

We tried one more wine with the Samoas. To test the theories of pairing a dry wine with something super sweet like these cookies one more time, we also tried Carlos Serres Rioja Gran Reserva 2008. Wines from Rioja traditionally are aged in American oak, which adds flavors like vanilla and coconut to the wine. A coconut on coconut combo seemed worth a shot. 

Carlos Serres Rioja Gran Reserva 2008


On its own, the wine had notes of tobacco, red cherries, and a hint of orange skin, alongside those notes of coconut and spice. Quite tasty. I thought the combo turned the wine pretty sour, however, one of our friends did find it kind of refreshing. (Average price: $30)

Rioja Pairing Grade: C+








This was such a fun experiment, we just might to do this with another round of cookies and wines again soon.


Also, did you all know you could buy Girl Scout Cookies on Amazon????? I didn’t, but here are the links  . . . and I might just have to help myself to another box!



 
As a final aside, if you're thinking, 'OMG that is soooooo much sugar! Did y'all go into sugar shock?!' Rest assured that we balanced things out with a cheese and charcuterie plate and crudités. 


Charcuterie plate and crudités.




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2 comments

  1. Everything is quite nice and the flavor stands. I'm gonna try.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. Let me know if you favorite pairings if you try.

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