BY RICK RIOZZA
A scary thought—What’s more disturbing and frightful than an empty glass of wine on Halloween? The news hour aside, whether you’re by your lonesome stuck in some haunted house or with a bunch of zombie-clad costumed characters, no one is happy when the wine bar is bare.
A few years ago, we wine columnists had to grin and bear it bringing our own bottle of vino just to keep ourselves company while wearily searching out a truly chilling, startling and over-all menacing bottle of wine on the market. But those days of quiet wine packaging and labeling are over.
It was getting near dawn when lights closed their tired eyes. I was awakened by a burdening brooding diesel sound—a hum of cacophonous bass notes. I rushed to the window and spied into a night of suspicious shadows. All I could quickly discern was a figure scurrying towards me carrying in both arms what appeared to be a small hoard of headless bodies or something! . . . Frozen in fear I flipped on the porchlight—it was only the UPS guy bringing up a few boxes of “Halloween wine” for me to review for this column. (Hey!—I’ll take wine delivered at 4:30 am anytime. Delivering wine at 4:30 pm in the desert heat is absolutely horrifying!)
You ask: Is Halloween Wine a real thing? Are there troubling wines out there that seem to infect the well-being of your soul? Is it like a Premier Cru Bordeaux—that you paid a mint for? We have heard of wine tales where the ancient of wine cellars have become a pit of pain and woe, where vintage wine bottles prey as a succubus to unsuspecting wine sucking out their freshness and energy. No—of course not, you knew it all along: it’s simply marketing.
So as one can discern, there is plenty of witches brew and evil vino to go around as every other winery in town seems to be putting out their version of scary hootch! In a previous column titled, “Butter Town, USA” you’ll recall our little wine pop-up quiz where we offered around 20 or so wine names/labels that centered around buttery Chardonnay. Some real, some fake news, and some of you were actually flummoxed.
This time, let’s throw out some variant “Halloween/Evil/Macabre” wine names & labels to ponder as real or not. Good Luck & Be Safe: The Were-Wolves of London Private Selection Portfolio; Blood Simple & Bloody Right!; Poizin Zinfandel—“A wine to die for”; Witches Brew Grand Cru, Witches Cauldron, the Splintered Broomstick Winery; Black Widow Wine, Bite My Neck, Zombie Walking Red; Psycho Syrah, Just Kill Me Red, If You See Kay, Candy Corn, Carnal Korn, Cat Scratch Fever.
Ready for some more: The Velvet Devil, Devil’s Post-Pile, Phantom Red, Red Skulls from Twisted Vines; Franken’s Blend, Frankenstein’s Bitch Beaujolais, Pressed Rat and Warthog; Unsaved & Unhinged; Monster Mash, Monster Ball, Monster Town, USA.
All right! In the sentiments of Frankenstein, where they took a little bit of this, a little bit of that, perhaps the only requirement for a marketable Halloween wine would be a tasty blend—something fun, not that serious of a quaff: after all, aren’t we just partying over here.
If, however, one were to go deeper into evil vino appreciation—yeah, I could make for some quick recommendations that will work for your entire costume week, and, work wonderfully on the table—alongside that bloody rare steak!
2014 Besieged Sonoma County, Old Vine California Heritage Varietals, ($14) I’m certain that at any blind ghoul wine tasting, the Besieged will take the horrific honors!! This is the wine for all ‘halloweenies”. You fans of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Carignan, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, and Barbera—well just enjoy this limited edition bottling that provides a dark, rich, full flavor profile with blackberry, black cherry, baking spices with a nice balance of acidity to keep it pouring throughout the meal. This wine is elegant, dry,well-balanced with all the complexities stirring from the heritage varietals.
No tricks here but an absolute treat for the bargain price of a focused wine from famed winemaker Joel Peterson, the “Godfather of Zin”, the consummate multitasker and perfectionist in the vineyard and winery.
Now when it comes to both packaging and wine reverence, another wild wicked wine for the weekend to recommend is of course, 2014 SAVED Red Blend ($21). The bottle is etched rather than having a label. Around the edged ring it says “Reverence of beauty, eradication of doubt through systems of superstition, adversities exiled by incantations of compassion and tenacity of heart”.
A collaboration of Wild Horse’s winemaker, Clay Brock, and renowned designer and New York tattoo artist, Scott Campbell. This wine over-satisfies those fans who enjoy a blend of Malbec, Syrah, Grenache, and Zinfandel: A full-bodied, smooth quaff of black and red fruits with a touch of coffee and fresh oak.
And whilst were doing Halloween and red blends, no one can ever leave out RAVAGE Cabernet Sauvignon, Dark, Rich & Defiant. At only twelve bucks a bottle, you’d be haunted forever and a day if you dare not divvy this out on the night of nights! A full-blown Cab that you’ve been dying to try!
For you white blend fans, the Prisoner Wine Company provides the 2015 Blindfold. This wine company continues to awe the moment with interesting blends of distinct quality and character in the surrounds of Chardonnay.
The winemaker is right on with comments such as: inviting aromas of lychee, citrus, vanilla and peach tart that continue with other flavors of balanced butterscotch!—Spine-tingling!
Rick is your ghost sommelier entertaining at all haunted venues and watching every move you make. Don’t be scared, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a price list of things to buy.