Ghoulish Grapes – Halloween wines by Sara d’Amato

Sara d'Amato

Sara d'Amato

Spooky is not an adjective commonly associated with wine; in fact, I would be concerned if it was used as a descriptor. However, with the spookiest day of the year quickly approaching, which is just as amusing for many adults as it is for children, ghoulish wines cannot be overlooked.  Unless you’re anxious to do tricks, it is only fair that we have our “treats” too! So whether you’re planning a thematic gathering or just in for a good time, here are some wines to pair with this unearthly night . . .


Dark as the Night

Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenère 2010, Apalta Vineyard, Colchagua Valley, Chile, $14.95

Carmenere is a deeply coloured, blood-red tinged wine that most definitely has spook value especially if you are playing the part of the blood sucking vampire. Traditionally, Carmenere was used as a blending grape in Bordeaux and would add beautiful dark hues to the wine, not to mention an elegant savory character. Nowadays, it is primarily planted and grown in Chile where it was previously mistaken for Merlot and now takes center stage in a solo role.  This more traditional blend is supple, enticing and undeniably approachable — be wary of its mysterious powers of intoxication!

Something Sweet

While the kiddos are busy canvasing for sweets, don’t we deserve to be rewarded too for all of our efforts at keeping up house and home? For all those who have sweet teeth rivaling those of the younger generation, try this tense, eerily off-dry, homegrown brew from Henry Of Pelham Reserve Off Dry Riesling 2008, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada, $15.95. The ghostly white and transparent colour of this wine proves even more sinister on the palate with tense, nervy, and one might say ‘spine-tingling’ flavours and texture. An intensely high acid varietal, this version is balanced by just the right amount of sweetness to give it that pleasurable, absolutely delicious, goose bump-inducing character. And not to worry, the acidity will take care of the cavity-engendering sweetness.

A Horrifyingly Good Pinot

Amity Pinot Noir 2007, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA, $20.95

Although not produced anywhere near the scene of the gruesome and highly disputed Amityville horror house, the Amity Hills Pinot Noir is terrifyingly good juice. The Pinot Noir varietal, known as the “heartbreak grape,” with its troublesome and unwieldy character, has plagued winemakers for centuries – one might refer to it as having a “possessed” nature, as it refuses to be managed and is susceptible to all sorts of spooky-looking, gnarly rots and mold.  Being able to produce a great Pinot Noir depends just as much on the quality of the vineyard as it does on the winemaker’s prowess, resulting in some of the world’s most hauntingly expressive and complex wines.