Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wines for Halloween

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Halloween was long one of my favorite holidays as a kid. Whether I was going trick or treating in the building where I grew up in New York or heading down to the parade in the Village I loved the crazy costumes and the chance to indulge in eating multiple peanut butter cups. These days I stay in and thought I would share some of my favorite wines for the evening with you.

I keep cloves of garlic around all year, to make roast vegetables and stews. So a handful of wines that stand up to intense garlic-infused flavors include rich Syrahs and Barberas as well as red blends and Chilean Carmenere.

You will want to find reds with soft tannins and a nice spice profile. Many of the Rhone reds from simple Cotes du Rhones to Chateauneuf-du-Pape have lovely black pepper tones and hints of rosemary, and other herbs, that pair beautifully with garlic-based dishes. Another great way to bring garlic into your meal is by roasting whole cloves and serving them hot and spreadable with bread instead of butter throughout the meal.

In terms of pairing the Barberas with garlic you will want to find ones with slightly longer alcohol, so the heat from the wine doesn’t overwhelm the dish. Dolcettos, especially from Italy, will work fine as well. Italian winemakers are masters of creating wines that pair seamlessly with a hint of garlic.

If you have kids and will be taking them out and about, don’t forget to bring a little tipple for yourself. Those insulated water bottles you use at the gym keep wine cool as well (good to know for those hiking and beach trips as well), and can be filled with the libation of your choice.

Candy and Wine Pairing
If your kids have leftover candy or the neighborhood children don’t come by to enjoy all of yours you can host a candy and wine pairing after dinner. Since much of our candy is very sweet you will want to seek out dessert wines with good acidity to balance out the pairing.

Older Tawny Ports will pair beautifully with anything with caramel in them, even if it’s coated in chocolate. Rubies will work well with milk chocolate, while dark chocolate remains pretty difficult to pair well with a dessert wine and is perhaps best enjoyed on its own.

Sweet sparkling wines, such as Muscats and Moscatos, will also work well with caramel- and some coffee-flavors sweets. I am going a bit out on a limb here, but try them with buttered popcorn and caramel corn-flavored jelly bellies if you can find them.

If you are having ice cream for dessert, a simple flavor like vanilla, is great with a ribbon of ruby Port or Muscat reduction. You can make these easily by boiling the Port for about eight minutes in a sauce pan. Happy Halloween however you choose to celebrate it.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. 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.

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