It used to be called ‘guising’ before the American influence transformed it into ‘trick or treat’ and it became a bigger deal. Instead of an occasion when kids would dress up and visit neighbours, hoping for sweets or maybe even money, Halloween is now an important date on the social calendar for adults as much as for children.
So, if you’re planning to host a party to mark All Saints Day, finding appropriate food and drink will be as much part of the challenge as choosing an outfit. Shops are awash with suggestions for dishes, and the appropriate fancy dress attire. But what about the wine? Some labels and names are particularly relevant, or can be shoe-horned into some form of pun that makes them a good choice for Halloween. Or maybe we should refer to it as Hallowine.
Perhaps we can help with a few suggestions. They may not have sinister connotations, but two of the options from Pago de Tharsys in Valencia do invoke night-time encounters. The Academia de Nocturnos wines celebrate the meetings of artists and novelists that used to used to take place after nightfall. The range features a Red that is made from the Valencian grape, Bobal, and is rich with dark fruit, herbs which give a balanced finish. The White is made entirely from Macabeo grapes and offers light fruity tastes of yellow peaches and golden delicious apples.
Those with a thirst for something a little more in line with the Halloween tradition, may be drawn to Lo Sang del Pais which translates from the Occitan dialect as ‘blood of the soil’. Made from Mansois grapes, this red is produced at the Domaine du Cros in the Aveyron area of France, and is packed with fruity flavours such as blackcurrant and raspberry.
Wildlife is a perfect partner to the spookiness of the occasion, and none more so than a hooting owl or perhaps a crow. Drinkers will need to add the sound effects themselves, but Scottish winemakers Guy and Liz Crawford can help with a wine that is relevant, Hibou IGP. Linguists will know that ‘hibou’ is French for owl. The Crawfords produce this red using Syrah grapes at Domaine de la Senche in the Languedoc region. The wine offers notes of black and red fruits, with a peppery hint.
Another ex-pat couple, Tony Cartlidge and his wife Sarah, make Dancing Crow at Lake County in California. This wine blends 75% Zinfandel with several other varieties, including Alicante Bouschet, Cinsault and Touriga Nacional, to deliver a well-structured wine that has notes of coffee, clove and cinnamon.
And staying with the animal theme, Catarratto is actually a white grape that is indigenous to Sicily, and nothing to do with cats or rats. However, for us, the name brings to mind two members of the animal kingdom that seem relevant for Halloween. With that in mind, may we recommend an unfiltered and unfined version from Ciello? The wine is made organically and undergoes only basic filtration before bottling, meaning that it often has some sediment that lends it a cloudy appearance. That boosts the textures and enhances the flavour. This is one of our favourite Catarratto wines. And we think it’s purrfect for any Halloween party.