Nobody needs a holiday to enjoy a glass of wine, but they do offer a good excuse to do so. Since we started this blog, Steve and I have written about various holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and even Valentine’s day! Wine tends to gather people around for a good time, a nice meal, and that’s what the holidays are all about. So I decided to write an article about Halloween Wine. Halloween is about spooky outfits, candies and overexcited kids who can’t drink yet, but I’m sure the parents could enjoy a glass or two during the dawn-of-the-dead parade. I recommend doing this at home and away from the typical Halloween chaos, not to mention zombies are notoriously bad drivers.
For the obvious reasons, I will not focus on wine pairing. Somehow, I don’t find sugar, corn syrup, citric acid, and artificial flavors particularly appealing when drinking wine. So instead, I will list some really good sipping wines that are sure to complement your Halloween party with a bang. Oh and yes, they come with their own spooky costume ; )
Timing is everything! With a state-of-the-art marketing and merchandizing, a celebrity release party on the Santa Monica pier (which I wasn’t invited to – just sayin’), Apothic Dark is making quite an entrance in the world of wine. Just weeks before Halloween, this mysterious blend makes a convenient appearance in many wine stores (retails for $12.99). Being somewhat familiar with their “Red” blend, I decided to pick up a few bottles of the “Dark” and give it a whirl. Rich and smooth (14.1% alcohol content), this limited release blends dark fruit flavors of blueberry and blackberry, with a subtle lingering taste of dried plum. I highly recommend it – ready to drink, crowd pleasing, generously plump and fleshy. Make sure to let this “dark” delight breathe about an hour before enjoying it.
A lush, delicious and “serious” Zinfandel but in a fun package! The nose is fruit driven with fresh plum, bing cherry, spicy peppercorn and zinberry. The mouthfeel is soft with a hint of milk chocolate, sweet oak, and a long vanilla finish. The deep color and firm structure are enhanced by the addition of the Petite Sirah and the firm tannins softened by moderate oak. Get it from the Armida website for $25. The Armida winery also makes a limited production Reserve Poizin. It’s 9 barrels of pure ecstasy. Each bottle sells for $80 and comes with a super cool wooden box coffin.
And after being “poizined”, you might need an “Antidote”. Some clever marketing geniuses came up with an idea to create Antidote, a dry white wine. The juice is tank fermented in stainless steel for 45 days, and the wine is left on the lees (refers to deposits of residual yeast or sediments during fermentation and aging) until bottling. The extended lees contact helps to create complex aromatics of cantaloupe and meyer lemon, and a luscious mouthfeel reminiscent of pear flambé. The multiple varietals adds depth and uniqueness to this balanced and approachable white wine. Drink this wine alone as an aperitif, or pair with your favorite fresh appetizers. $20 from the Armida website.
Located in the Russian Valley, this Sonoma County winery hand-crafts over 10 different wines and feature some of the best vineyards in California, including their own 7-acre vineyard where they produce Il Campo (“Field Blend”), a delicious combination of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Perhaps a new destination for Wine Ponder ; )
With names like Vampire, Dracula, True Blood and Château du Vampire, I think it is safe to say that Halloween is a big day for Vampire Vineyards. Rumor has it that the winery is actually owned by a circle of vampires… What if it’s true!? Well, whoever they are, they certainly know what they’re doing. The winery produces multiple varietals, red and white, even a sparkling wine called “Je T’aime”. For $12.95, their entry level wines are called Vampire:
Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Full-bodied with Blackberry and Dark Cherry aromas, with just the right amount of Oak flavors leading to a lingering finish. Classic, small-lot fermentations, followed by aging with Oak, gives full expression to the rich varietal flavors in this wine.
Merlot 2012 – Smooth and medium-bodied with a fresh, Black Cherry aroma, and hints of Herbal spices. Aged in oak, our Merlot develops graceful Fruit Flavors in the cellar, complemented by subtle shadings of Vanilla and Toast from the Oak.
Pinot Noir 2012 – Enticing aroma of strawberry and raspberry. A small amount of oak provides a nice mid-palate and soft finish.
On the higher end of things, the winery also produces three more lines of wines called Dracula, Trueblood, and Château du Vampire, which includes a bloody good blend called “Midnight Rendez-Vous” ($32.95). This skillful blending of Syrah (50%) with Counoise (17%), Mourvedre (17%) and Grenache (16%) results in a bouquet of Dried Berries and Cocoa, and decadent flavors of Black Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Spicy Fig and Plum.
From Chris Ringland, the creator of “Bitch”, Evil was born during the 2004/2005 growing season. The fruit is sourced from some of South Australia’s best regions and turned into a voluptuous wine.
90 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate : This 2006 Evil Cabernet Sauvignon from South Australia reveals a fragrant bouquet of cedar and black currants. Fruit-driven, full-bodied, with tons of flavor, this mischievous wine will provide pleasure over the next 6-8 years. Find it at K&L Wines for the mere price of $8.99.
R Wines Winery also makes a fun and easy to drink Chardonnay called Pure Evil. Made to maximize fruit expression with minimal oak influence. A quaffable, quality drink. Pure Evil is creamy, luscious and lingering, with a nose of peach, melon, ripe tropical fruit and hints of cashew. All wrapped in an edgy package for $12.99.
From Charles Smith Wines, Columbia Valley, WA – This Merlot (91% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon) is “balanced, rich and explosive. Think red plums and bittersweet cocoa with hints of pipe tobacco and cedar. So smooth, so naughty, and so very, very nice.” Find it at Total Wine & More for $10.49.
The prisoner has escaped and he is mad as hell! He could be in your house right now, raising hell with his 15.2% alcohol content. Let him mingle with the others and impress everyone with his exceptional class. The Prisoner is one of Wine Ponder’s favorite wines. Straight from Orin Swift cellars, this powerful Napa Valley wine blends various varietals, with a clear Zinfandel dominance.
Each year, there is a slightly different recipe that creates The Prisoner. But it’s consistently a great wine. The 2011 vintage consists of 51% Zinfandel/19% Cabernet Sauvignon/15% Syrah/12% Petite Sirah/2% Charbono/1% Grenache.
Here is what winemaker Dave Phinney himself says about the wine: “The wine has a dense red and black hue that is framed in vibrant crimson. Aromas of Bing cherry, espresso, roasted fig and vanillin oak accents are persistent. The entry is powerful and generous supported with lively acidity while flavors of ripe raspberry, pomegranate and wild berry fruit linger harmoniously. Soft, integrated tannin chains allow the wine to be approachable now and provides for a pleasant finish.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Wine Spectator gave it 92 points! Find it at K&L Wines and Total Wine & More for $37.99.
In the past, to be left-handed was considered touched by the Devil. As Wikipedia notes: Historically, the left side, and subsequently left-handedness, was considered negative in many cultures. The Latin word “sinistra” originally meant “left” but took on meanings of “evil” or “unlucky” by the Classical Latin era, and this double meaning survives in the English word “sinister”. But the story behind the wine goes far beyond a terminology fact. During the 17th century, two revolutionary Irish families (the O’Neills and O’Reillys) formed a rowing competition to reserve rights and ownership to some highly regarded land. The two rowing teams agreed that the first to touch the land, after rowing across the lake, would become ruler of the land. O’Neill’s boat was falling behind so a member of the crew grabbed his own sword, cut off his hand and threw it ashore, winning the title to rule the land. This land still remains in the family.
A dark story needs a dark wine, which is why we created Owen Roe Sinister Hand, where the name references a gruesome bit of old Irish competitiveness. Typical of a traditional Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this blend of 70% Grenache, 16% Syrah, 9% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault has lovely aromas of black cherry, cranberry, clove, orange zest and dusty earth. The front palate has notes of cocoa and is nicely balanced with cranberry spice cake and gingerbread flavors. The finish has a refreshing structure with fine tannins. Alcohol content is 14.1%. Find it at K&L Wines and Total Wine & More for $21.99.
The Sinister Hand label shows the severed hand of Owen Roe O’Neil – the Irish patriot whose severed hand appears on the coat of arms of winemaker David O’Reilly’s family.
Most of these wines are fairly widely available but if you can’t find them, remember such stand bys as Seven Deadly Zins, Ghost Hill, Casillero Del Diablo, Bone Dry Red, Ghostly White, Werewolf, Del Fin Del Mundo and Hocus Pocus – what could be scarier than that? Now be a good g’host and make sure those thirsty vampires get something to drink, or else…
Happy Hallo-wine! – Sorry, I couldn’t resist ; )