The thought of Halloween conjures up all kinds of scary images from ghosts to goblins to vampires to witches and zombies. With youngsters rushing from house to house in their scary costumes begging for treats, we usually think of Halloween as a children’s holiday.
But as we Baby Boomers age with all the grace we can muster, we refuse to give up the best things from our childhood, and that includes Halloween. There usually are as many adult parties as children’s parties on this scariest holiday. With October 31 falling on a Monday this year, you can bet the weekend before will be filled with adult parties.
If you are hosting or attending a Halloween party this year, there’s no need for you wine lovers to forego your favorite drink. After all, red wine is the color of blood, and some wines are named blood. There is Sangria, which is the Spanish word for blood, and the wine from Hungary, Bull’s Blood, or Egri Bikavér.
You can be creative to work wine into your Holloween revels (such as bobbing for apples in a punchbowl of wine). But if your wine drinking habits have dulled your imagination, don’t worry. Creative winemakers (or marketing departments) have produced dozens of boo-tiful labels to put you in a ghastly, ghostly mood.
Our local wine shops will stock many of these wines, but if you can’t find something, ask your favorite wine shop to order it. You might find more than these just before Halloween.
“We always have a big display for Halloween,” said Roger Strohl, owner of The Vineyard Wine Market in Evans. “People like to have fun with this, and they look forward to their Halloween wines. We’ll also have a Halloween tasting of some sort.”
Here are some of my favorites. The prices are approximate, and should be within a dollar or two of what you will pay in Augusta.
Poizin ($20), by Armida Winery in Sonoma. It starts with a great label: skull and crossbones painted on in red with the red looking like it’s dripping blood. The wine also is terrific, a silky Zin blended with some Petite Sirah and Syrah. Some bottles come packed in their own little wooden coffin. The winery calls it, “the wine to die for.”
Vampire Vineyards has very nice wine and a fun website (www.vampirevineyards.com), complete with funny videos. These California wines are serious, with nine varietals, red and white, under four labels: Vampire Vineyards, Dracula, Trueblood and Chateau du Vampire. They also make Vampyre Red Vodka, Witches Brew beer and many other products such as chocolate and coffee. One of their slogans is “Sip the blood of the vine.” I particularly like their Dracula Zin ($20), Trueblood Pinot Noir ($35), and Dracula Syrah ($18). Most of the Vampire label wines sell for about $10.
Heretic Petite Sirah ($40), from Cypher Winery, is a monster of a wine from Paso Robles, full of black cherry, red fruit and thyme. The scary label painted on the bottle looks devilish.
Casillero del Diablo wines from Chile are good values and fun to drink all year. The name means “Devil’s Cellar.” The winemaker for Concha Y Toro wanted to stop his workers from stealing his best wine, so he wrote Casillero del Diablo on the door and said the devil lived in his cellar. You’ll have a devil of a time deciding which one is best, because they have 13 varietals under their reserve label alone. Most of the non-reserve wines sell for under $10.
Bogle Phantom ($20) blend of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Mourvedre is a powerhouse wine from a great producer. The word Bogle actually is Welsh for phantom, goblin or specter, so all of Bogle’s wines would be appropriate.
Evil Cabernet Sauvignon (under $15) by R Wines, Australia, has the named spelled upside down and backwards on the label, but the wine is right-side up and fruit forward. The company is upside down and in receivership, so it might be difficult to find this wine.
Some other Halloween wines with good labels worth mentioning: Cronic Cellars Sofa King Bueno ($22), a Syrah blend from Paso Robles; Incognito white and red ($20) from Michael David Winery; The Velvet Devil Merlot ($15), Washington State; Old Ghost Zinfandel ($37) from Klinker Brick Winery in Lodi, California; Banshee Cabernet Sauvignon ($38) from Napa; Zeller Schwarze Katz, a German white wine for under $10; Zombie Zin ($12), from Chateau Diana in Sonoma; Razor’s Edge Shiraz ($14), from Australia; Spanish Demon Tempranillo ($8) from Rioja; Duplin Black River Red ($10), a sweet Muscadine and Catawba blend from North Carolina; Twisted wines ($8); Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon ($18), Napa/Sonoma; Killibinbin Cabernet Sauvignon ($40), Australia; Temptation Zinfandel ($15), California; Fetish ($25), a Grenache/Syrah/Mataro blend from Australia.
For more potent drinks, skulls seem to be in vogue. Toast, in Columbia County, carries Kah Tequila ($50) which is bottled in brightly colored skulls in honor of Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations. Their slogan is “The life of the after party.”
Toast also carries Crystal Head Vodka ($50), packaged in clear crystal skulls. And there is the always popular Captain Morgan Rum, with the swashbuckling pirate on the label.
Just in time for Halloween there will be several pumpkin brews available, mostly ales.
There are many options out there for Halloween drinking fun. Just unleash your imagination.
Blood and Gore from Hungary
Bull’s Blood wine from Hungary has a great tradition, full of blood and gore. The small town of Eger, Hungary, is known for withstanding a month-long siege by the Turks in 1552. About 2,000 soldiers defended the town’s 13th-century castle from 150,000 Turkish troops. The men, led by Captain Istvan Dobo, stopped the Ottomon Empire’s invasion of Western Europe. To fortify themselves during the siege, the citizens of Eger drank red wine from their cellars. The wine splashed on their beards and spilled on their armor, coloring them blood red. The Turks were unable to understand how they could be stopped, so when they saw the red beards and armor they thought the Hungarians were drinking Bull’s Blood to give themselves strength. Afterwards, the legend spread all over the world, and the region’s wine gained its name.