Looking for the perfect wines for Halloween! We’ve got you covered! In this episode, we taste and review three wines we think are absolute hits for your next Halloween party, dinner, or night at home watching scary movies with your S.O.! We’ll give you some easy criteria you can use to select Halloween wines, some hints on pairing wine with Halloween candy, and some great scary movie and wine pairings so you can make an evening to remember. Don’t be afraid! Give us a listen - or we might haunt your dreams! Wines reviewed in this episode: 2018 Ghost Pines Chardonnay, 2019 Spellbound Petite Sirah, and 2019 Armida Winery Poizin Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. And check out our instagram for some great pics of these wines!
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Episode 49: Great Wines for Halloween! (Spooky wine labels, great Halloween party wines, pairing wine with Halloween movies, foods, and candy) 00:00
Hello! And welcome to The Wine Pair Podcast. I’m Joe, your sommelier of reasonably priced wine, and this is my wife and my wine pairing partner in crime, Carmela. And we are The Wine Pair!
Ok, a quick orientation for those of you who may be new to the podcast - in each episode we learn about, and taste and review three wines that are reasonably priced - meaning under $20 - and are, or should be, easy for you to find.Our reviews are real, we use everyday words when we taste the wines in each episode, and we are not paid or sponsored by anyone - in fact, we buy all of our own wine! And, we are proud to say that our podcast is recommended by Decanter magazine, and they describe our Podcast as fun, irreverent, chatty, and entertaining.
Ok, Carmela, today we have a very special podcast because we are going to talk about wines that are a great fit with one of my favorite holidays HALLOWEEN - in fact, it may be my very favorite holiday! Where did it fall for you in the pantheon of holidays? I mean, growing up I used to prepare for Halloween for months, did you? And even today, I just love Halloween - I love the decorations and the movies and the candy and I love giving out candy for Halloween!
So, in light of the subject of our podcast today - I have a question for you: what do you think would make a great wine for Halloween?
- Spooky name and label: I am not usually a label person, but I think for Halloween, you want a label and a name of the wine that reflects the holiday. I think a spooky label and a spooky name are a must, and maybe the most important part of choosing a Halloween wine.
- Warmer (higher alcohol), spicier wine: Because Halloween hits as the weather is turning colder, I think you need a wine that is a “warmer.” We have talked about this in other episodes related to fall, but to me a warmer is a wine that has a higher alcohol content. I also think you want a wine that is spicy - meaning a wine that has characteristics of black or hot pepper.
- Pairs with Halloween foods: so I am not talking about candy yet, but what are some foods you might associate with Halloween? Like, if you were to throw a Halloween party, what food might you serve?
- If it’s for kids, I think you are looking at things like pepperoni pizzas where the pepperoni is shaped like a jack-o-lantern. Comfort foods, too, like mac and cheese, and potato chips, and maybe tacos. And, as a parent you are going to eat those foods at the party, too!
- For adults, maybe you are thinking about things like pumpkin ravioli with a rich, buttery cream sauce. Or maybe it’s something with a rich marinara sauce like a lasagna or an eggplant parmesan?
- For those foods, you want something that can stand up to rich flavors, so something with a good balance of acid and tannins, probably focusing a little heavier on richer red wines.
- Does it need to pair with candy? My feeling is probably not because pairing wine with candy is a hard thing to do. I think you can find wines that do ok with chocolate, but once you start getting to things that are really sweet or sour, it is really hard to pair them with wine.
But, we’ll talk about that a little bit more in a bit - Halloween candies, and we’ll also talk about other Halloween related things that you can pair wine with . . .
But first . . . we have to do our shameless plug, right Carmela? If you are enjoying our podcast, we would love for you to subscribe so you never have to miss an episode, and we would also love it if you would leave us a rating and review so people who stumble upon our podcast will think - hey, maybe I should listen to this!
If you want to reach out to us with ideas, or thoughts, or just to talk - you can DM us on Instagram at thewinepairpodcast or contact us on our website thewinepairpodcast.com.
And, as we do every week, we’ll tell you someone we think you should tell about The Wine Pair Podcast, and this week we would like you to tell anyone who loves Halloween - whether that’s dressing up or watching scary movies or throwing Halloween parties
ARTICLES AND LINKS
Topic: Pairing Halloween wines with Halloween candy! 08:20
In a little bit, when we talk about the wines we chose for this episode, and in that we’ll talk about the criteria we used to select them, so we’ll get there in just a bit.
But first, we thought it would be fun to talk about pairing wine and Halloween candy classics - however, I will tell you that there is some controversy around this subject! There are actually a lot of articles out there on the interwebs that talk about what wines you should pair with Halloween candy, and you can find the link to some of these articles in the show notes for this episode on our website. But some people feel it is an abomination to even think about pairing wines with candies. What do you think?
Well, since we are on the subject, I thought I would at least share what YouGov says is the top 10 preferred candies for Halloween based on their research. Any guesses? And do you think your favorite Halloween candy is on the list, and what is that candy?
Here is their top 10 list of Halloween candies in the US
- M&Ms (Original) 76.1%
- Reese's Peanut Butter Cup 74.4%
- Kit Kat 72.8%
- Peanut M&Ms 72.4%
- Butterfinger 70.9%
- Snickers bar 68.8%
- Twix bar 68.5%
- Milky Way bar 68.0%
- Hershey's milk chocolate bar 67.2%
- Reese's Pieces 67.1%
(This data was based on a win percentage in head to head matchups of candies)
THIS PORTION WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE EPISODE
So let’s see what the interwebs suggests for wines to pair with these candies - and don’t worry about memorizing all of this stuff - you can find it all on our web site in the episode show notes.
- M&Ms (Original) - While Cabernet would seem to be a natural pairing with M&M’s, the fact that they are milk chocolate with a candy coating means that a good pairing is a Gamay or Pinot Noir
- Reese's Peanut Butter Cup - The overwhelming majority of articles I saw on the interwebs said that Cabernet Sauvignon is the right pairing, and that a smooth Cab Sauv would also be a good pairing for Reese’s pieces or anything with peanut butter in it.
- Kit Kat - There seems to be a bit of a conflict about what to serve with a Kit Kat. Some are saying a Pinot Noir, others saying sparkling wine, specifically Lambrusco, and others saying a Ruby Port.
- Peanut M&Ms - This one also has some controversy on it. Some say a Barbaresco from Italy made from the Nebbiolo grape, others say a port or a sherry, so you have to once again decide if you want a sweeter wine or a drier wine.
- Butterfinger - There seems to be some consensus that this is a candy to pair with white wine, with some saying Sauvignon Blanc and others saying Chardonnay and still others saying Pinot Grigio
- Snickers - A natural pairing here seems to be a Malbec given that it tends to be pretty bold and can stand up to a candy bar with lots of different flavors
- Twix bar - Definitely seeing a pull to strong red wines with Twix, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, Malbec, and Syrah, although others have said a Pinot or a Port.
- Milky Way bar - Some are saying a sweet wine from Portugal called Madeira, and others are saying Nebbiolo or Pinot Noir.
- Hershey's milk chocolate bar - Merlot is a definite choice here. But I was also seeing people on the interwebs talk about white wines like iognier, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris.
- Reese's Pieces - Like the peanut butter cup, there is some consensus to choose a bold red like Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec
- Bonus - Sour Patch kids because you love Sour gummy candies. There seems to be some consensus for either a Riesling or a champagne style sparkling.
I will have information in our show notes on what different articles online suggested for pairings, but I am not going to go through them all because I want to do something else. However, I will give you all out there in listening land some rules of thumb that I like to follow when it comes to pairing wines with dessert:
- Pair sweet with sweet - so that means sugary candies with off-dry white wines or dry sparkling wines or dessert wines.
- For milk chocolate, I would look for a lighter bodied red like a Pinot Noir or Gamay, and
- For a dark chocolate, I would look to big reds like Cabernet and Malbec or a Port.
- And I think Zinfandel is a good cross-chocolate wine choice.
Pairing Halloween wines with scary Halloween movies! 12:30
But let’s go down a slightly different path and talk about wines to pair with scary movies, since everyone watches scary movies around Halloween, right?!? What are some of your favorite scary movies? You really don’t like scary movies do you? Any styles you really don’t like? I really don’t like the slasher movies. Too mean for me.
The scariest movies I have ever seen include The Exorcist and Hereditary. But, honestly, those movies are so scary that I don’t think I could eat or drink anything while watching them!
So, I thought what I would do instead is choose a few movies that have some scare in them, but that you can watch with your significant other without one or the both of you pooping your pants. Here are five I would recommend and wines to go with them.
- Shaun of the Dead (2004). Why? I like Zombie movies, and this is a good combo of funny and a little scary, but with some good story telling and actually some softer emotions.
- Wine to pair with Shaun of the Dead: Vinho Verde. It’s light and almost a little effervescent, and it’s low in alcohol so you can keep drinking during the whole movie.
- The Conjuring (2013 - the original) A good old-fashioned creepy haunted possession thriller with a weird pair that seems to really love each other despite the demons. Like us!
- Wine to pair with The Conjuring: Chianti. In part because the movie takes place in the 70’s, and I can’t help but think about those wicker covered bottles that were popular in the 70’s
- Poltergeist (1982 - the original) A sort of scary but mostly fun and entertaining move that everyone who watches just kind of loves. Carolanne always reminds me of our daughter when she was little, and that movie seems to have help up well over time
- Wine to pair with Poltergeist: I say a Zinfandel because, at its core, Poltergeist is really a heartwarming story about a family who loves each other. Seriously, I know that is weird, but Zinfandel is a what I would call a heartwarming wine. A good one just kind of make you feel good.
- The Thing (1982 - with Kurt Russell) - this movie I think is a very underrated movie. I kind of think of it as a thinking person’s movie - it is really more of a mystery movie wrapped in the guise of a monster movie
- Wine to pair with The Thing: Because this is a thinking person’s wine, I am choosing something a little more sophisticated, so I say either a Pinot Noir from France, or an Aglianico del Vulture from southern Italy
- The Craft (1996) - this is a guilty pleasure movie for me. It’s a little like Mean Girls if the Mean Girls were witches. I find it fun, smart, and scary, with real danter, and in a weird sort of teen movie way, it feels like something that could actually happen.
- Wine to pair with The Craft: definitely a sparkling wine, and I might choose that sparkling we had last weekend - that sparkling Chardonnay from Charles Smith with the bottle cap called Pop Up
Look, like we said, you can find all of this information on our website in our episode show notes, so head over there to learn more. But let’s focus on the wines we chose for this episode, and see if they are good choices for an upcoming Halloween event. OOOHHHH.
ARTICLES AND LINKS
What makes a great Halloween wine? A review of the Halloween themed wines we chose for this episode 19:09
As we get started, I will say that all of these wines should be available for you to buy. Minimally, I bought these wines on wine.com, but I have seen some of these wines at Total Wine and at least one of them at our local grocery store.
For this episode, there were actually a lot of choices we could have made. The criteria we used were some of the ones we talked about earlier, and we added a few others:
- We were thinking about what wines we would bring to or serve at a Halloween dinner or party, so something fun, that people might get a kick out of
- We wanted the wines to have the right look to them. I mean, if you are going to do a Halloween wine, it has to be a little scary or spooky
- We wanted the wines to cover a variety of different tastes because, let’s face it, not everyone always likes the same wines.
- We kind of wanted wines that were low maintenance. While not every wine is a screw cap, we do think that makes the wine a little easier to handle.
- We wanted to have wines that were warmers, so higher in alcohol
- As you would expect from our show, has to be under $20
- And, we wanted wines that would go with a variety of comfort-type foods. Nothing overly fancy.
So, our first wine is a white wine called Ghost Pines Chardonnay. This wine has kind of a cool, spooky, understated label.
Chardonnay is a good choice because it is relatively high alcohol, medium body, low tannin, medium acid wine, so it is a warmer that does well with a lot of comfort foods.
In doing some research on the interwebs I found this out: although this wine is named after the Ghost Pines Vineyard in Napa valley, this winery sources grapes from all over Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino, and the mix of Chardonnay grapes from different vineyards can change every year. Which could be interesting, or could mean the quality changes each year.
And, Ghost Pine is not just a spooky name, there are actually trees called Ghost Pines. WHO KNEW?!? And, if this Chardonnay is oaked, which I expect it to be, it may actually freak me out.
The next wine we selected is a Petite Sirah called Spellbound Petite Sirah. For clarity's sake, Petite Sirah is not like a little Syrah, ok?!? It is actually a totally different grape than Syrah altogether. It is called petite because the grape itself is small. But don’t confuse those two.
A Petite Sirah is a good choice for a Halloween wine because it is high in alcohol, high in tannin, big bodied, and a medium to low acid wine. This is a wine that is called chewy and intense, so, although that may not be our usual cup of tea, it does feel like a fit.
The Spellbound wine is also a good one because of its very mystical and mysterious label. It is black and silver and shows the phases of the moon around the label. Creepy. According to a description of the wine, the founding partners of Spellbound chose the name and label imagery to suggest the ever-present magical, mystical force of the moon.
The Spellbound winemakers also say: Savvy wine shoppers will appreciate Spellbound for its everyday affordability, consistent quality and fruit-driven wine profile. So, maybe a good fit for our podcast?!?
The last wine we have is one that we have definitely had before, and I think we served at one of our Halloween dinners many, many years ago. It is called Poizin, or more fully Armida Winery Poizin Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. This wine has a great look for Halloween - the bottle is red and black with a skull and crossbones etched or painted into it, and by the way, you can see all of these wines on our Instagram so head over there.
The winery calls this “the wine to die for.” Let’s actually hope not. This wine is aged for 10 months in french, american, and eastern european oak. And, like a lot of zins is high in alcohol, medium-high in tannins, relatively big bodied, and a lower acid wine. I think I remember this wine as a little hot or alcoholly, so we’ll see how we feel. Zinfandel is also a wine that you can often drink young, so this can be a wine you can just pull off the shelf.
These winemakers call themselves “minimalists” - which I assume means that they don’t mess around too much with the wine, and they do like to create wines from single vineyards, hence the reference to Dry Creek Vineyard in the name of the wine.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to try them, or are you afraid?
ARTICLES AND LINKS
Halloween wine pairing and tasting and review 25:08
Wine: Ghost Pines Chardonnay (Click here to buy this wine - affiliate link)
Region: California: Monetery, Napa, Sonoma
Producer: Ghost Pines Wine
What we tasted and smelled in this Chardonnay: Apple, oaky, sweet, tropical fruit, papaya, buttered popcorn, caramel popcorn, kettle corn, pie crust where the apple has caramelized, golden delicious apple. If you like buttery Chardonnays, you are going to love this one.
Food to pair with this Chardonnay: white pizza, fish and chips, chicken burger, teriyaki chicken, fried rice, popcorn, gooey cheese nachos.
Candy or movie to pair with or is similar to this Chardonnay: caramel apples, Almond Joy, Hocus Pocus
As a reminder on our rating scale, we rate on a scale of 1-10 and there are no half points, where 7 and above means that we would buy it, and 4 and below means that we are likely to pour it down the sink, and in-between we are likely to drink it and finish it, but we are probably not going to buy it.
- Joe: 5/10
- Carmela: 7/10
*Take Joe’s rating with a grain of salt because he does not like buttery Chardonnay. In the world of buttery Chardonnays, this is a good one.
Wine: Spellbound Petite Sirah (Click here to buy this wine - affiliate link)
Region: California, Napa Valley
Producer: Spellbound Wines
Grapes: Petit Sirah
What we tasted and smelled in this Petite Sirah: Match stick, plum, spice, ripe red cherry, chocolate, vanilla, fruit forward, lots of plum, sugary sweet. Low acid
Food to pair with this Petite Sirah: Pizza, burgers, steak, meat filled ravioli, bolognese, lasagna, puttanesca, roast, chili.
Candy or movie to pair with or is similar to this Petite Sirah: Hershey bar, milk chocolate, Leprechaun.
- Joe: 7/10
- Carmela: 7/10
Wine: Armida Winery Poizin Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (Click here to buy this wine - affiliate link)
Region: California, Sonoma
Producer: Armida Winery
What we tasted and smelled in this Zinfandel: Black licorice, currant, raspberry, Twizzler, spice, candle smoke, fruit leather, high tannin and acid, plum, black pepper, tar. Very much a Halloween wine. Great wine for a Halloween party.
Food to pair with or similar to this Zinfandel: Steak, pizza, comfort foods, roast, spaghetti and meatballs, pesto.
Candy or movie to pair with this Zinfandel: Dark chocolate, dark cherry cordials, spooky movie with jump scares.
- Joe: 7/10
- Carmela: 8/10
Which one of these are you finishing tonight?
- Carmela: Poizin
- Joe: Spellbound
Do you feel these are good Halloween wines?
These are all great choices for Halloween wines. A great Halloween wine lineup.
Taste profiles expected from Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel: 46:38
- Chardonnay taste profile
- Yellow apple, starfruit, pineapple, vanilla, butter
- California can also have some lemon zest, pie crust, nutmeg, ripe apple, tropical fruit, creamy
- Ghost Pines: his Chardonnay is filled with fruit-forward characters of baked apple, pear and lemon cream accented by an elegant and sweet vanilla finish
- This delicious everyday Chardonnay reveals aromas green apple, pear, lime peel, salt, butter and crème brulee. Full-bodied with a tight acidity, the wine evolves to a medium finish, providing many pairing options. Palate: pineapple, lime, honey, salt, toast, spice and vanilla. Enjoy.
- Petite Sirah taste profile
- Sugar plum, blueberry, dark chocolate, black pepper, black tea. Rich black fruits, bold tannins. Plum, smoky, dark-berried fruits, spices, caramel, licorice, and coffee.
- Zinfandel taste profile
- Blackberry, strawberry, peach preserves, cinnamon, sweet tobacco. Jammy, smoky, spicy. Plum, gravel, allspice, white pepper.
- Poizin web site: blackberry, plum and smoky oak aromas. Bold flavors of black-cherry jam, raspberry and anise are wrapped in a warm blanket of vanilla spice. Moderate oak aging contributes hints of clove and smoke. Approachable, balanced and a little crazy, this wine is purely intoxicating. Enjoy this poizin with caution; it is The Wine to Die for!
Outro and how to find The Wine Pair Podcast 49:25
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