Around this time of year, you’ll find a few bottles of wine designated as the “perfect Halloween” wine. These wines usually come from Transylvania (yes, seriously), or they feature vampires, werewolves and other ghastly creatures on their labels. Word of caution: The wine inside is usually equally ghastly.
So what wine pairs best with Halloween? Anything you enjoy, really. I mean, we’re talking about answering the door to hundreds of “trick-or-treat” screaming kids begging for candy from strangers, and despite their adorable cuteness, it strikes me that few occasions scream “Mommy needs sustenance!” like Halloween does.
With the whole “blood” connection, however, this mother believes there’s no better wine to pair with Halloween than Sangiovese.
The word “Sangiovese” translates to “blood of Jove.” Jove, better known as Jupiter, reigned supreme as the king of sky and thunder. Ancient calendars demonstrate that Jove also reigned over festivals of vintages, likely because grapes, unlike other agricultural crops, were more susceptible to damage and therefore dependent upon the sky’s mercy.
As Béla Lugosi is rumored to have swilled more than his fair share of formaldehyde, any conclusion-drawing between Béla Lugosi and wine recommendations must stop at the necessarily campy Halloween tie-in.
Sangiovese is the grape that makes chianti, the raffia-wrapped quintessential Italian wine of Tuscany. Until the 1980s only a small area of Sangiovese could be found in the United States … in Alexander Valley, California where it lingered from pre-Prohibition days. Although California dominates as the US grower/maker of Sangiovese, the grape also can be found in Washington, Oregon, Virginia and Texas.
The “blood of Jove” tastes nothing like “blood.” Instead, look for vanilla and spice, with black and/or tart cherry, plums, anise, red currant and tobacco flavors. Sangiovese can age well, but mostly is intended to be drunk soon after it’s been released.
*For the record, apparently Béla Lugosi never uttered those words in the 1931 horror classic “Dracula.” Sometimes the truth hurts, doesn't it?