It's Girl Scout Cookie Time in the United States, when the only thing more numerous than the throngs of girl scouts hawking their wares in seemingly every public space are the innumerable throngs of people looking to buy more. We've wondered for a long time about which wine varietals to pair with which cookie varieties. There's certainly a lot of literature about this on the Internet, but we put a lineup to the test and have come up with Wine:Thirty Flight endorsed recommendations for your next cookie soiree. Yes, we had a cookie soiree.
First, on the list of things that nobody knows that everyone knows, it turns out that the (mostly) same Girl Scout cookies are marketed with different names. Turns out that preference for one name or another can incite great passion. We're not here to debate this. We just wanted to clarify, and now we're moving on.
Trefoils / Shortbread
Brut Champagne or other more dry sparkling wine cuts through these rich buttery cookies to be their number one pairing partner. Be careful to not pair these with sweeter wines, even those that sparkle a bit; Moscato, for example, is a terrible pair here because it (depending on whether your swigging more wine or chomping more cookie) either drowns out the cookie or turns its flavors into a flabby buttery mess. It's a poor match for red wine.
We understand that this new, gluten-free cookie is not available in all regions, but suffice it to say we're talking about a buttery, crumbly cookie with toffee bits baked in. Like its Trefoil / Shortbread cousin, the Toffee-tastics make a great pair with more dry sparkling wine, and a rather terrible pair with sweeter varietals (introducing the toffee to the Moscato with all the butter thrown in makes for an overwhelmingly sweet, yet strangely flabby mix... don't do it). They aren't a great pair with reds, though if you're dead set on red you can try matching with Rioja for some interesting interplay with the toffee.
Samoas / Caramel deLites
I'm an unapologetic Somoa / Caramel deLite fan, and this is where we begin to transition away from the well worn cookies + sparkling trope and into some more interesting combinations. These cookies paired with Brut turn out to be a bit too spritzy, i.e. too much effervescence going on in one place. If you want to stick with sparkling, try the softer and sweeter Moscato as a good pair to the toasted coconut, or a Prosecco whose acidity tends to mellow out a bit in combination with the cookie. The magic combination here, though, is Samoa + Tempranillo from Rioja, wherein the coconut plays very well with the notes picked up by the wine through barrel aging. California Syrah works as well, though (we think) less robustly.
These were the ones we worried about, right? Syrah wins the Thin Mint game, coating your mouth in a really delightful way that makes you feel like you're drinking the cookie you're eating. This is important, though: California Syrah is going to work much better than French Syrah (too delicate) or Australian Shiraz (too jammy). The California editions combine the right stuff in the right way to be the killer Thin Mint wine.
Tagalongs / Peanut Butter Patties
This one surprised us! We found that Tagalongs / Peanut Butter Patties brought out interesting flavors that would have been otherwise inaccessible in both the Brut and the Syrah. If you're seeking something sweeter, try pairing with a Tawny Port.
Overall, we found that Samoas / Caramel deLites and Tagalongs are the most versatile cookies to pair with wine, while Brut sparklers and California Syrah are the most versatile wines to pair with cookies. At least one of those two wines should pair nicely with at least one of every cookie in the lineup, though we'll give honorable mention to Rioja Tempranillo's dynamic pairing with Toffee-tastics and Samoas.