Monday, October 27, 2014

Wines for Halloween

By Liza B. Zimmerman

This classic American dress-up holiday is just around the corner. I would wager that it is as beloved by adults as it is by kids. During recent trips to costume stores—in preparation for a blow out wine country party—I saw as many grown-ups buying light sabers and sexy hamburger outfits as their kids were snapping up the princess dresses.

For those who are staying in for the evening, or heading back with sugar-hyper offspring in tow, I would say there are two ways to approach your wine pairings. Since the bulk of the scary/vampire wines that are released for the occasion haven’t usually been that high quality, I say you go the road of the toasty reds or wines to pair with whatever candy you can wrestle away from your kids. Even a little cider might be good to warm you up on a fall night. New York State makes some lovely ones that you could even serve warm or use as a component in a festive punch to put on the table to share.

Big, Hearty Reds
If I am sitting around a fire, or just want to enjoy something toasty and divine, nothing beats Nebbiolo-based wines from Piedmonte. They have that spice, complexity and kick. They are so easy to pair with food and so enjoyable without. I tend to like Barbarescos more as I find them a bit wilder in a sensuous way. Produttori del Barbaresco remains one of the top brands in the business and it is still so well priced! Conterno’s” Ceretta” Langhe Nebbiolo is also delicious.

Another favorite for easy sipping by fire—or space heater—is Zinfandel. The earthy,é dusty nature of many of these wines, combined with a lush fruit profile, make them great fall warmers. Some of the best, such as Sobon, are coming out of Amador Country and Paso Robles, respectively to the north and south of San Francisco. Bordeaux and Rhône blends also have a complexity that is perfect for easy sipping and pair so well with so many types of foods: a little beef stock, hot pepper or animal fat in your dishes will just make these wines soar.

Candied Wines for Those Sweets
Even if the kids can’t indulge, some sweet and fortified dessert wines will work well with a wide range of carmel- and nut-based desserts. An ice wine, such as Inniskillin’s from outside Toronto in Niagara-on-the-Lake, are perfect with ribbons of carmel or the crunch of walnuts and almonds (whether its Twix or crème brûlee just go for it). Mission Hill in the Okanagan Valley, a few hours outside of Vancouver, also makes some lovely ice wines.

Ports are going to work with chocolate-based treats, particularly somewhat austere Tawnies and the vintage Port if you want to indulge. Hungary’s intense and well-balanced Tokays are also desserts in an of themselves, as are Bordeaux’s Sauternes.

The biggest decision you should have to face on Halloween night is deciding which candies you want to pair wines with. Having a little flight in reserve of ice wines, Tokay, Port and Sauternes wouldn’t hurt your pairing potential.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.


  1. best apk for free aptoide download for android and all device.
    aptoide apk 2017

  2. good songs that's just in the cloud which doesn't. In this Fildo Music App you stop your All Access strategy, the music downloaded great.
    Fildo Music App