Halloween can be a frightful challenge for a wine writer.
Do you ignore the holiday? Do you give fanciful advice about pairing wine with candy your children extorted from neighbors under the threat of mischief? Do you pair wine with the groaning bowl of candy you purchased but too few extortionists came to your door? Do you attempt to be clever by recommending wines with at least a tenuous Halloween connection for your adult costume party? Concha y Toro’s Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil) is an obvious call.
This column has visited all those themes since it began in 2008. Here is a fast recap:
• Wine pairing with candy easily leads to horrors. Best advice—don’t pair wine with candy.
• If you ignore the first piece of advice, dark chocolate can pair with rich red wines. The wine must be as sweet or sweeter than the candy. Consider Madeira malmsey, tawny port. Buttery California chardonnay—popcorn balls. Sweet riesling—Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
• If you are past the kiddy daze days and will throw an adult fright night fandango, there are kitschy, clever, affordable and widely available wines to fit a Halloween theme. See tasting notes.
• If you are a responsible adult who just wants a good Sunday repast this Halloween, tasting notes includes suggestions not haunted by Halloween.
• Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil): from Chile’s monster maker Concho y Toro, good quality-value; almost every major varietal.
• Michael David Winery: 7 Deadly Zins (raspberry, cranberry, spice) and Freakshow (black current, oak, vanilla).
• Alexander Valley Wines: Temptation Zin (plush cherries), Sin Zin (raspberry, pepper), and Redemption Zin (lush, blackberries, plum).
• Wines from Graves region of Bordeaux (French pronunciation is “grahv” and means gravel, but you can intro with English pronunciation). There are many wine choices, including Sauterns—sweet, exquisite, expensive stuff, which means you could pair with candy. But, please, don’t let the devil tempt you into that sin.
• Veramonte Reserva Carménère 2018: Very dependable, everyday wine. Superb QPR (quality-price ratio). $10-12 Link to my review
• The Prisoner Wine Company Unshackled Rosé, California 2019: Red-fruit-forward, fun, easy drinker, touch of tartness. $15-22 Link to my review
• Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highlands Reserve Chardonnay 2017: Butter and oak stop short of being over-the-top. $20-29 Link to my review
• Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir 2018: Red fruits framed by splendid acidity for a pinot noir. Good texture, appropriate oak. $30-38 Link to my review
Last round: What type of pants did the ghosts wear to the Halloween wine party? Boo jeans.