Halloween originated with the Celtic celebration known as Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts lived 2,000 years ago in northern Europe and celebrated their new year on November 1. Largely a harvest festival, the day marked summer’s end and the beginning of the dark and chilly winter, often associated with human death. The Celts believed that on the night before the commencement of the new year, the worlds of the living and the dead could interact and during Samhain ghosts returned to earth. They believe the presence of these otherworldly spirits enabled the Druids, or Celtic priests, to predict the future. To celebrate all of this, the Druids built roaring sacred bonfires, where crops and animals served as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the people put on costumes, including animal heads and skins, and told each other’s fortunes. What a suitable event for some red wine!
As it turns out, part of the harvest being celebrated was that of grapes and the wine made from them. The Celts couldn’t buy wine online, so they imported it from the Mediterranean. A few years ago, researchers discovered residues on ancient ceramics suggesting that Early Celts drank large amounts of Mediterranean wine, and this red wine was not just for the elites or the Druids.
The archaeologists discovered evidence of Mediterranean grape wine by detecting short-chain carboxylic compounds, including succinic, fumaric, malic and tartaric acids on the ceramics.
“Tartaric acid is usually considered to be a grape product/wine marker because of its high concentration in grapes in contrast to other fruits available in Europe during the Early Iron Age,” one of the researchers reported. As no evidence exists of grape seeds or winemaking in this part of Europe, the red wine must have been imported.
So, that good red wine bottle, Halloween, and celebration indeed have a logical connection! When you buy red wine (or orange wine), be sure to choose ones that properly invoke the spirit of Samhain, spirits, animal sacrifices, and all. I’ve chosen a few options for you!
Five Red Wines for Halloween
First up is the 2017 Klinker Brick Old Ghost Old Vine Zinfandel. The “old ghosts” here are indeed the old Zinfandel vines in Lodi, California. This is the best Zinfandel wine from this famed producer. On the nose you will find spicy notes blended with chocolate and herbs. One the palate expect full-bodied flavors of pomegranate and plump red cherry accented with thyme. Balanced acidity helps cut through concentrated aspects of blackberry and tobacco. This wine has medium tannins and a long textured finish.
Another red wine perfect for that Halloween costume party is a Gold Medal Winner, the 2019 Michael David Winery Freakshow Zinfandel. This is a bit softer than the Kinker Brick: a medium bodied Zinfandel with wild brambleberry and coffee aromas that never lose the typical peppery spice. In your mouth, savor flavors like black cherry, pure chocolate, and tobacco leaf. The fruit flavor last all through the finish.
For a change of pace, try the 2018 Orin Swift Machete Red, a blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache. With a color like fresh blood, this Red Machete will tantalize you with delectable wafts of crushed black plums, boysenberries, and cherry jam. There are highlights of cracked black pepper and camphor too. Medium in body, the flavors burst with firm and crunchy black fruits; plush tannins lead to a long finish never losing the wine’s inherent freshness.
Speaking of bleeding red, there’s the Larmandier-Bernier Rose de Saignee Premier Cru Extra Brut, a fantastic Champagne made from 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Gris. This is a truly classic sparkling rose, made using the “bleeding” method. Bright in yet sculpted the nose brings notes of chalk, mint, white pepper, and crushed slate that accentuate the red berry fruit. Bright floral notes emerge once in the glass.
For a wine to go with that carved pumpkin, sample the 2016 Langhart-Hill Rumpelstiltskin Skin Fermented Gewurztraminer made in the Russian River Valley. Showing off with its golden-orange translucence, this orange wine has distinct aromas of dried orange rind, citrus zest, hazelnuts, and trade route spices. Don’t expect something like a rose; this wine is full bodied with fine-grained tannins and a lingering finish.
You can order wine online right now from Bottle Barn, including these selections perfect for a Halloween get-together. The Celts would be proud!
Please read about other wine suggestions on our wine articles pages!