While much about Halloween has changed, the idea that witches and other supernatural beings spend one night a year among us is still widely celebrated. Every year we in Green acres are asked about Halloween wine pairings.
We appreciate where people are coming from, with this question. For many people, drinking wine is, in part, occasion driven. I know that people don’t need a reason to pop a cork, but some people will drink wine rather than other drinks, when tied to occasions of one sort or another.
Occasions that spring to mind are New Year, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Birthdays and so on. But what about Halloween? It is a time for dressing up, scary fun and indulging in chocolate and other treats – but what about Halloween wine pairings?
I saw that Concha y Toro’s Casillero del Diablo were sponsors on TV recently. That name translates in English to ‘Devil’s Locker (or cellar)’ which I thought might work. Unfortunately, I know that they didn’t pick this name to advertise Halloween! Watch the video behind this name here.
Other than some wine labels around the world, there’s not a lot of obvious wine products that can be linked with the October 31st tradition. That being said, I will offer some Halloween wine pairings in the rest of this post.
Wine Pairing Treats at Halloween
The obvious pairing for me is for adults to enjoy a warm red tipple after the children have finished their trick-or-treating/games and gone to bed. If you do indulge in some sweet leftovers, here are some considerations to bear in mind.
Sweets are basically entirely sugar. Whilst they might be lovely to eat, they can make dry wines taste astringent and bitter. Instead, I would recommend light, fruity unoaked reds like a Pinot Noir or Gamay (Beaujolais)
Consider the texture of the sweets too. For instance, a kit-kat would be more like a biscuit than a chocolate. Try a ruby Port to compliment this biscuit in a bar.
For fruity sweets such as Starbursts (their tagline - unexplainably juicy), I would recommend an off-dry Riesling. Wines with ripe stone fruit and melon notes will happily pair with all the different colour Starbursts, and vibrant acidity keeps the wine and the sweets from being too sugar-like.
Have you ever tried a Snickers Bar and Sauternes? Go on, I think you’ll like it. Salty peanuts and caramel play well with Sauternes’ rich and sweet flavours. The brisk, bracing acidity of the wine refreshes the palate.
So, can we make Halloween into a wine occasion on the scale of Christmas and New Year? Maybe not, but I think there is a creative challenge here to find ways to bring wine more directly into the spooky picture.
Throw a Halloween Party
Whether you’re thinking of throwing a Halloween party or just seeking to get your festive fix after taking the kids trick-or-treating, there are plenty of options to make it work. Here are some ideas:
-spooky games: Halloween movie trivia; eyeball beer pong etc.
-wine décor: decorate/use empty wine bottles as spooky candle holders; blind tastings etc.
-dress up: visit Pinterest to get some wonderful classy adult Halloween themes
-music: “hey Google/Siri/Alexa – play Halloween music”
-scary backdrop: Make a backdrop for photo opportunities during the party
-drinks: if not straight wine, then make a batch of warm spiced wine (see recipe below)
Banshee-Mulled Wine Recipe
Not only does this have a Halloween theme, but this hot beverage will keep guests warm on a cool, winter's night. The following recipe can be modified to serve a bigger crowd:
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and slowly warm them up for about 25 minutes, stirring every once in a while.
One bottle of red, such as merlot, cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel
One lemon, peeled and sliced (add the zest to the pot to enhance flavour)
One orange, peeled and sliced (add the zest to the pot if you wish)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cinnamon sticks
5 cloves, whole
2/3 cup cognac or brandy
½ cup honey or sugar
½ cup water
Ladle the mulled wine into glasses and add plastic spiders to the handles to add a spooky factor to the drink.
Trick or Treat
Alongside devilish tricks, sweet treats, and fun costumes, Oct. 31 is a day when our drinks can be as dressed up and out there as we please. I believe that Halloween is becoming more and more popular among beverage-loving adults, so we should look at drinking something different than we would at other times of the year.
If the wine team or I here in Green Acres can help you choose wine for any occasion please drop in or contact Patrick, Donal or me James @greenacres.ie.
Talk soon – James