Scary wines

for

Halloween?

As wine lovers, we’ve all met one or two really scary wines.

Sometimes the wines are our friend’s home-made – from fruit or kits. Other times, these scary wines are commercially made but somehow flawed or faulty.

And then there are what could have been good wines but they’ve been kept too long and become tired and stale. As well as what might have been great wines …but they’ve been stored too close to the ovens in a restaurant, or too close to the furnace in someone’s house – either way they’ve become oxidized and taste too much like vinegar.

Fortunately, with modern technology, flawed and faulty commercial wines are few an far between these days.

Not so scary wines are occasionally available. These wines are about marketing. Names and labels that reflect traditionally ‘scary’ themes seem to appear most often in October, almost as if they were being peddled to Halloween?

These wines are seldom flawed or faulty – more entertaining than ‘scary’. They are all about the story behind the wine – usually the name or the label, often both.

From the south of France, Fat Bastard ‘Bloody Red’ 186721 $14.49 is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Merlot grapes that purportedly come from the finest haunted plots of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, famous for its rich soil, with the remains of hundreds of battles fought on its lands over the centuries providing complexity and energy to the wine.

Their winemakers claim tongue in cheek-ishly to work very closely “with the local witches to determine the start of each harvest. The grapes are passed through the crusher-destemmer (which is used the rest of the year to punish naughty children). Gently pressed and

then fermented in wizards’s cauldrons, the sweet blood-red wine is drawn off into the dungeon vats, where it slowly develops, watched over by the ghosts of prisoners past, into a fat, luscious brew.”

Beyond the entertainment value the wine is full of dark blackberry and prune aromas and flavours with a spicy finish of peppery tannins “with touches of Transylvanian wolf hair and cucurbits earthyness, this ripe blood-red nectar stays long and rich in the mouth, much appreciated by Count Dracula for its resemblance to his favorite beverage.”

Blood sausage, beef heart, bat stew and confit of calf brains are some of the wonderful classic combinations but as these exquisite specialities can be difficult to source today, perfectly delicious with grilled burgers, fried chicken and pumpkin pie…

This October “The wine to die for…” just may be Poizin Zinfandel $26.79 from California’s Armida Winery in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. Like it’s old-fashioned and deadly namesake, this red is labelled with a very old-fashioned Skull and Crossbones – the Poison warning also popularized by pirates’ flags!

A classic Dry Creek Zinfandel oozing plum, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and smoky oak, it is a blend of 90 per cent Zinfandel and

10 per cent Petit Sirah. Not to be confused with Syrah, Petit Sirah is a California take on the grape the French call Durif. Aged in a mix of French, Eastern European and American oak there are notes of smoky liquorice and dark chocolate in the finish of this not so scary red.

From its post-apocalyptic beginning in Season 1 (2010), ‘The Walking Dead’ is moving into Season 9 this Fall. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the zombie dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months, society has crumbled; there is no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV.

An inventive blend of 40 per cent Merlot, 30 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 per cent Petit Verdot and 10 per cent Malbec, made in California’s Napa Valley, Walking Dead Blood Red Blend $29.99 drips with intensity. On the nose – rather than rotting flesh and ghoulishly dug-up earthy notes – there are aromas of raspberries, cranberry, cherry and melted milk chocolate. With 10 months in French and American Oak, vanilla, cappuccino, and dark chocolate all linger in the aftertaste.

Few and far between, this Halloween, these are definitely the red wines you want to take to the neighbourhood Ghouls and Gals party. As scary as they pretend to be, they are actually a very tasty assortment of red wines for all spooky occasions

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com