Halloween tempts you into cloyingly kitsch novelty wine plays. Trouble: clever names and campy labels often are inversely related to wine quality.
So, are there witty and drinkable wines for Halloween? Can you deliver a delicious treat along with a roguish trick?
Contemplate the Graves. Hard to get more Halloween than “grave.” (Okay, in French it is pronounced “grahv” and means gravel; present bottle with sepulchral silence.) Bonus: Graves produces fine wines.
Located southeast of port of Bordeaux, Graves is hallowed ground for robust, blood-red blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Enophiles also dig Graves for quality dry whites and, from Sauternes region, frighteningly wonderful, long-lived, sweet wine conjurations of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle.
Downside: quality Graves can be fearsome financial decisions in today’s economy.
Spook night alternative that won’t scare your budget to death: Casillero del Diablo (“Cellar of the Devil”). Hard to conjure more horrific Halloween handle. Produced by Chile’s monster maker Concha y Toro, name comes from story that founder Don Melchor sought to stop workers from sipping his best wine by securing it in his deepest, darkest cellar—The Cellar of the Devil. Legend claims it worked. Whatever, Casillero del Diablo produces several good value wines (including a stellar Gewürztraminer). Enjoy, laugh past Don Melchor’s grave.
If you want more mischievous Halloween label, pour puckish pleasures with Alexander Valley’s Temptation Zin, Sin Zin, and Redemption Zin.
All wines mentioned here beat stale candy from strangers.
• Chateau Haut Mayne Graves. Spicy nose, good fruit and finesse. $13
• Chateau Tour de Boyrin Gaves Rouge. Cherry, blackcurrant nose; nice dark fruits, soft and rich; affordable, classic Graves. $14
• Chateau Gravas Sauterns. Lemon, apple, fresh acidity, tart lemon finish. $14, 375 ml