By The Glass
Halloween wines not all blood red
If you're planning a Halloween party, I have a few wines well-suited to the holiday. No, not any of those conjured-up "Vampire" wines, but really good wines with names you wouldn't believe. These stories are true and the wines are real -- good enough to sink your teeth into.
For a white wine to cleanse your palate before dipping into the reds, may I suggest the 2002 William Fevre Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaumes" ($29). Premier cru is the second highest classification of vineyards in Chablis. Vineyard Fourchaume actually includes a smaller parcel known as "Homme Mort" -- "the dead man."
The vineyard may once have been a graveyard or it could have been named for a sudden fatality. Nonetheless, the wine is far from death. It is prototypical chablis with a tremendous minerally, chalky and citrus aroma. Its almost sparkling acidity would cleanse even the deepest of trespasses from your soul. And its super-lengthy aftertaste will leave you wanting more of life.
Oysters on a half shell would be the perfect combination. They can even be made to look like slugs on ice -- and you can color the ice with red dye for added ambiance.
Red wine? No, not yet. First try pink, the 2004 Domaine de Trinquevidel Tavel Rosé ($15). This almost salmon-colored rosé is made from grenache and cinsault grapes grown in the sunny and warm Southern Rhone Valley.
The wine is like sunshine in a bottle -- it just reminds me of strawberries, roses and melons -- and takes me to the pretty, sunlit courtyard where I first tasted it.
But the name of the domaine has a deep, dark story. "Trinquer" means to clink glasses, which is buoyant and pleasant enough, but in slang it also means "to get the worst of things." In this case the whole word, "Trinquevidel" means "smashing heads," or if you like, "slaughterhouse." Use your imagination.
As an accompaniment, I would suggest cocktail shrimp reaching out of a platter like fingers, with the cocktail sauce pooling in the background.
Yes, now we move to the blood thick, staining red wine. Have you ever squeezed blood from stone? That is exactly what Serge Ferigoule does in the area of Vacqueyras, in the South of France. The 2003 Domaine du Sang de Cailloux, Vacqueyras ($29) is a super blend of grenache, syrah and cinsault from vineyard sites that remind me very much of the soils and topography of Chateauneuf du Pape -- stony, pebbled and deep in limestone.
The wine has a wonderful bouquet of herbs and spices, along with cooked and dried plums and cassis. It is almost full-bodied, with a tremendously ripe cherry flavor and a long finish of earthiness.
"Sang" means blood, "cailloux" means stones or rocks, therefore, "blood from stone." Whether the rocks were stained with blood or it just indicates how much earthiness Serge can squeeze into the wines is up to you to decide. But the wine is decidedly delicious with charred piece of red meat, or maybe not so charred, still pink and red, as you may prefer.
So let the wine flow this Halloween. May it fill you with mirth and happiness. Just watch out for red stains on your linens or carpets. I sincerely hope that they only come from wine.
Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier and wine educator with Southern Wine & Spirits.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org