Give your palate a scare this Halloween with some frightening wines.
There’s really nothing spooky about these wines — they just may not be as familiar to you as other reds and whites.
So go ahead, try something new. You may be scared how much you enjoy them!
Bull’s Blood is the English translation of Egri Bikavér, a red wine from Hungary. This type of wine gets its name from a 16th century legend about a small group of Hungarian soldiers who withstood a siege of the fortress at Eger by 150,000 invading Turkish troops. The Hungarian soldiers were served red wine for motivation. Word spread among the Turkish troops that the wine was mixed with bull’s blood — the reason for the Hungarians’ inexplicable strength. The rumor demoralized the Turks, and the siege ended.
Ten different grapes are allowed to make up Egri Bikavér, though regulations state it must contain at least three. In general Egri Bikavér is a big and sometimes gamey red wine that has red and black fruit flavors. It pairs well with beef, game and hearty foods. Not all wine shops carry Hungarian wine so your best bet is to call ahead and ask.
Though Pinotage doesn’t have the most favorable reputation in the United States, you shouldn’t be scared to try this South African variety. Pinotage was created in the 1920s by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault (known locally as Hermitage).
Selecting a bottle can be a trick or a treat. Done well, Pinotage can have flavors of chocolate, coffee, red fruit and smoke. Done poorly, Pinotage can taste gamey with notes of burnt rubber and rusted metal. The Amateur Gastronomer recommends the 2010 Dark Lady Pinotage, a lush and layered wine that shows just how good this grape can be.
There’s nothing scary about this white wine grape from Austria — except perhaps trying to pronounce it. This varietal produces food-friendly dry wines that have citrus and apple flavors with high acidity and minerality. Grüner Veltliner can pair with shellfish, seafood, poultry, spicy foods and Asian cuisine so it is perfect for whatever you’re serving at your Halloween party.
Grüner Veltliner is growing in popularity outside of Austria and is now grown in California, Oregon and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
If you want to match the colors associated with Halloween, pick up a bottle of Orange Wine. This is white wine made in a similar way to red wine — skins from the white wine grapes are left in the juice, producing a darker color. The wine tends to be more intense in flavor than other white wines with notes of orange or tangerine and spicy ginger and sandalwood. Though rare and hard to find in most wine shops, Orange Wine is most commonly produced in Italy and (more recently) California.
It too may be scary to pronounce, but it is sweet to drink. Skip the Halloween candy and enjoy a glass of Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) instead. TBA is a German wine term that refers to the ripeness level of the grape. The riper the grape, the higher concentration of sugar; more sugar means a sweeter wine. TBA is the highest category in the German and Austrian classification system and the wines are intensely sweet. TBA wines are typically made from Riesling or Welschriesling. Look for it (or the less sweet Auslese) in the Germany, Austria or dessert wine sections of your local wine shop.
Happy Halloween and happy sipping!