Adult Halloween parties tend toward harder spirits, but you can have frightful fun with wines, too. Start by picking your style of humor and your taste in wine.
Consider offerings from Vampire Vineyards if you want an edgy Halloween winefest. Once bottled in Transylvania, the brand improved considerably after moving to Paso Robles, California, in 2006.
There’s a haunting choice of Vampires: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Merlot Rosé. Vampire’s campy persona will enliven your holiday party without embarrassing you with its taste—although not complex, these value wines are very drinkable, nicely smooth. Vampire also makes Vampyre Vodka for the hard spirits crowd.
If wry humor is your Halloween style, consider Alexander Valley Vineyards’ tongue-in-cheek collection of Zinfandels: Temptation Zin, Sin Zin, and Redemption Zin. These are serious Zins, not just good table wines fortified with marketing hype. Made with California’s signature grape in a southern Rhone style, they are worth drinking whenever you want naughty pleasure.
Finally, if red wine spooks you, consider Moselland Black Cat Riesling, a German Mosel in a charming cat-shaped bottle available in multiple colors. This is a wine where the unique bottle is part of the value. Black Cat has enough acidity to tickle your tongue, is not overwhelmingly sweet. To evoke Riesling’s fruitiness and floral aromas, take it from the refrigerator 30 minutes before pulling the cork.
• Vampire Vineyards Cabernet and Pinot Noir. Nicely soft and drinkable. $10-$12
• Alexander Valley Sin Zin (medium body, raspberry, pepper $21), Temptation Zin (plush, cherry $14), Redemption Zin (lush, blackberry, plum $25). More than clever names, authentic Zins.
• Moselland Black Cat Riesling. You’ll love the 500 ml bottle shape; the simple, low alcohol (9.5%) wine is okay, too. $11