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Break That Pairing: Girl Scout Cookies and Wine

A Complete Waste of Time? Almost.

5 min read

In the United States, February is the season of Girl Scout Cookies. In neighborhoods across the country, girls go door-to-door selling colorful boxes of cookies to support their Girl Scout Troops — small, community-focused groups that foster character, self-esteem and civic responsibility.

The cookies are almost as old as the Girl Scouts themselves. In 1917, mothers and daughters began baking cookies at home to finance troop activities, and by 1933, scouts were selling commercially made cookies. After World War II, the homey tradition became a marketing colossus, with Girl Scouts ubiquitously setting up tables of cookies for sale in suburban shopping malls. Since then, the Girl Scout cookie brand has been as carefully monitored as anything produced by General Mills or Nestlé (that’s why I’m using ®’s everywhere in this article). What do you expect from an enterprise that rakes in $776 million dollars a year?

Naturally, when a product is this ubiquitous, you have to pair it with wine. American life is filled with snacks, treats, and everyday junk food that goes great with fine wine. Or so we’re told. In fact, there’s a whole Instagram account devoted to the notion, although its more hilarious than informative.

We wanted to get in on the fun, so we’re starting a new feature here on Opening a Bottle, in which we pair an iconic American snack/treat/fast food/guilty pleasure with a few wines just to see what works (and more to the point, what combos crash and burn). And we’re starting with the $776 million colossus.

So let’s play Break! That! Wine Pairing!

Our Objective

Troll the internet for other “Girl Scout cookies + wine” articles, see what’s been done, see what we’re up against, then see what bottles we have lying around. Experiment until either (a) fireworks occur or (b) we lose interest and make a pot of coffee to go with the cookies.

Supplies

  • 1 box each of Thin Mints®, Samoas®, Savannah Smiles®, Trefoils® and Dos-e-Dohs®. Not in stock: Tagalongs®, S’mores® and Toffee-Tastic®.
  • A bottle of Moscato d’Asti, Port, Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay. Not in stock: Banyuls, Sherry, Champagne or any Pinot Noir that we would dare open for this moment.
Girl Scout Cookies and Wine ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

There was only one winner on this day: Moscato d’Asti. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Our First Contestant: Moscato d’Asti

Piedmont’s often simple yet always vibrant Moscato d’Asti is the consummate dessert wine — in that it is so sweet, it could be deemed dessert on its own.

Food & Wine Magazine published a hilarious take-down of the Internet’s worst GS-cookie-wine-pairing advise, but ultimately settled on one pairing that worked: Moscato d’Asti and Trefoils. And would you look at that? I have the same bottle of Marchesi di Gresy’s “La Serra” (★★★★ 1/2) on hand.

First off, this wine is — well, imagine if the sun was made of honey, and you had a straw. Decadent, vibrantly sweet and most importantly, gleeful-as-a-toddler-with-a-new-tricycle, this wine is among the very best of its category. I started with a Trefoil®, the Girl Scouts’ iconic logo-shaped shortbread. Yep, very good. As Food & Wine mentions, its like the perennial Italian favorite: pairing biscotti with Moscato.

But I may have liked it even more with the Savannah Smile®, which the Girl Scouts describe as a “crisp, zesty lemon wedge cookie dusted with powdered sugar.” Super sweet on super sweet, in this case, seemed to work because of the radiant citrus of both the cookie and the wine. The powdered sugar and bubbles turned the palate into a playground. My Friday afternoon was looking up.

But then things took a turn for the worse.

Girl Scout Cookies and Wine ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Port and cookies. I taste Port. Which is fine, but not much of a pairing. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Our Next Contestant: Port

Several articles recommended pairing Port with the peanut-butter cookies — Tagalongs® and Do-Si-Dos®. I’m not sure what this accomplishes.

First off, I had a bottle of Quinta de la Rosa 20-Year Tawny Port (★★★★), which is a superb expression: light yet viscous, decked in figs and apricots and caramel. Perfect for a cookie, right?

But when I bit into the Do-Si-Do® then sipped the Port, all I tasted was Port.

Perhaps chocolate was the magic ingredient to synthesize everything? Since we didn’t buy Tagalongs®, I grabbed a Thin Mint®. What I tasted, was Port — except this time, it was like a sip of Port while chewing spearmint gum. Bleh.

Port and a Samoa®? Even worse. The problem here is the cookie — a caramel-and-coconut covered cookie with a gummy texture and an artificial aftertaste. And since Port isn’t great at clearing the palate, I gave up. Next!

Girl Scout Cookies and Wine ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

I’m sorry Villa Russiz. I’ll pair you more appropriately next time. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Our Third — and Inadvertently — Final Contestant: Sauvignon Blanc

In their article, Vivino recommended pairing Sancerre (one of France’s most esteemed Sauvignon Blanc wines) with Savannah Smiles®. “Pair them with a Sancerre and you will have a match made in heaven,” was all they had to offer. I guess it had something to do with the lemon-on-lemon action.

What I had on hand was the 2015 Villa Russiz Collio Sauvignon (★★★★), from Italy’s most esteemed Sauvignon Blanc region, Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The night before, we had paired it with a simple spinach-artichoke pizza and salad, and it was a lovely wine. Very steely, very elegant, with lots of little details surrounding its great varietal character. “A highly versatile Sauv Blanc,” I wrote in my notes.

But it met its match with the Savannah Smile®. Together, they created a sensation of grassy poprocks in the mouth. I do not wish to repeat it.

Worse still was the Sauvignon Blanc with the Samoas®, which at this point, I’m sorry to say, is just not a good cookie.

There was a bit of redemption in pairing it with the Trefoil®, but at this point, I was wondering what any of this was accomplishing. Making a pot of coffee was increasingly more tempting.

Come to think of it, who even thought Sauvignon Blanc would be a good cookie wine in the first place? It has such a strong, citric-and-vegetal tone, and the best ones have a mineral or even briny character. Why would you ever want that with a cookie? Make some scallops, bake a fish, hell — grill a turkey burger.

It was also becoming clear that if I was going to do this right, I’d need 20 bottles of wine to mix and match, and some friends to help make the experience more informative. (File under: stories for 2019). Did I really want to open Stony Hill Chardonnay or the Premier Cru Chablis for a $4 cookie?

Conclusions

A cup of tea would be best for the Savannah Smiles®. Coffee for the Do-Si-Dos®. Thin Mints® by themselves. Yes, the Trefoils® and the Savannah Smiles® were good with the Moscato d’Asti, but after these last two rounds, I was giving up. The Chardonnay remained unopened. I’ll save it for a more traditional pairing — like some potato chips.

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