Halloween wines
W hen the trick-or-treating is over and it’s time for the adults to take over on Halloween, there’s no limit to the fun you can have with a little imagination and a lot of wine.
From the costumes to the decorations and, of course, the refreshments, you can use a wine theme for everything if you have a party on Saturday.
For instance, you could hang a large box over your body and go as a box wine. I suppose you could do a wine bottle, but that would take a lot more work. Or you could wear dark tights and attach some branches all over yourself and hang some plastic grapes to turn you into a grapevine.
For decorations, take some clear wine bottles and fill them with a red liquid to look like blood. Add some black candles on top and let the wax drip down.

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection
has a great 2012 Claret that comes with a net around the bottle ($21). If you carefully remove the net and spray paint it white you could turn it into a spider web. Just add a big fake spider. The wine itself is terrific, a rich, deep blend of Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
If you want to have some fun at an adult party, you could bob for apples in a punch bowl full of wine. Or you could play spin the bottle with empty wine bottles.
For food you could take a cheese ball and stick in black pipe cleaners shaped like spider legs.
Wine is perfect for Halloween, especially red wine, because it is the color of blood. You could serve a Sangria, a nice red punch, which is the Spanish word for blood. There also is a wine from Hungary called Egri Bikavér, or Bull’s Blood.
The wine companies have helped us out by coming up with all sorts of clever labels to get us in the spooky mood. Here are a few that I find intriguing and fun to drink:
Bogle Phantom ($18-20). A delicious blend of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre, it is aged for more than 24 months in one- and two-year-old American oak, generating tones of spicy vanilla and toasted coconut. Flavors include bright red cherry, black pepper and blackberry, leading to an intense finish.
Apothic Dark ($10). Flavors of blueberry and blackberry mix with notes of dark chocolate and coffee for a rich, smooth taste. There area lot of jammy fruit flavors here at a great price.
Cypher Slayer ($60). This is massive, seductive blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec from Paso Robles. Aromas of blackberry and raspberry lead to flavors of cherry and black currant. It’s a complex wine, with a lingering finish.
Cypher Heretic Petite Sirah ($40), 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.
Chronic Cellars Purple Paradise Zinfandel ($17). The effect starts with a devilish skull on the label, but the wine inside is pure heaven. A blend of 70 percent Zinfandel, 14 percent Syrah, 11 percent Petite Sirah and 5 percent Grenache, the wine is a beautiful dark purple with lush aromas of vanilla, cherries and pepper. The predominant flavors are strawberries, cherries and chocolate.
Poizin Red Label from Sonoma Dry Creek ($25), Poizin Brown Label, California ($15). It starts with a great label: red skull and crossbones painted on the bottle, 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 Cabernet Sauvignon ($13) is a full-bodied wine with blackberry and dark cherry aromas and tastes with the right amount of oak and a lingering finish. The winery also has a red blend that comes packaged in a coffin. It starts with scents of blackberry, plums and black cherries with silky fruit flavors.
Boneshaker Zinfandel ($20) is deep red and purple in the glass with black cherry aromas. Flavors include blackberry and dark chocolate. It is a smooth wine with brisk tannins and a gentle finish.
19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon ($12) takes its name from a list of 19 crimes drawn up to address the problems of overcrowded jails in 18th Century England. If you were convicted of one of those crimes you could be sent to Australia instead of being executed. The Cab has pleasant aromas of dark fruit and vanilla with dark fruit flavors balanced by crisp acidity. They also make a blend of Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon that has great flavors of jammy blackberry with muted tannins.
Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon ($20) by Michael David is a rich wine that explodes with flavor. The flavors are complex, with traces of black cherry, plum and spice. It is lightly oaked, allowing luscious fruit flavors to come forward.
Casillero del Diablo wines seem like they were made for this holiday, complete with an embossed devil on the bottle. More than 100 years ago, Chilean wine maker Don Melchor stored this wine in a cellar with a sign saying it was the devil’s cellar. That kept his superstitious workers from stealing the wine. They bottle many varietals, but I particularly like their Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Chardonnay. All the varietals sell for about $11-12.
The winery, part of the Concha y Toro group, takes Halloween serious. It owns the trademark on “The Official Wine of Halloween.”
Gnarly Head Authentic Black is part of the winery’s “Gnarl-O-Ween” marketing effort. The wine is marketed as the darker side of their portfolio. It’s a clever promotion, but the best part is what’s inside the bottle.
The wine is a luscious, dark Petite Sirah, bursting with concentrated flavors of blackberry and plum. The aromas are mouth-watering cherry and black licorice. It will pair well with most meat dishes, pizza or hearty chili. This is a limited release wine, so it probably will be gone by the end of the year. About $12.
Here’s one true, scary story about wine:
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.

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