You know that wine comes in “white,” “red,” and “pink,” and if you’re paying attention you might be familiar with the “green” wine from Portugal or “orange” wine from Veneto. There’s been a proliferation of “black” wines lately, though they aren’t new. The term traditionally refers to a very intense style of Malbec, often from Cahors, France.
Malbec is indeed deep, dark, and sometimes a bit unapproachable (though Cahors has tried to lighten up a bit recently), but it’s no longer the only grape being called “black.” Through the magic of marketing, wines from all over the place, and made from a wide array of grapes, are taking on the “black” label. Highly pigmented grapes with intense flavors that might be in a “black” blend certainly still include Malbec, but might also be based on inky purple Petite Sirah, as well as Mourvedre and Zinfandel. The common denominator is a dark, opaque color and a brooding character, often with peppery or cocoa notes.
We propose these scary, scary wines might be good pairings for whatever you’re cuing up to watch while trick-or-treaters buzz your house on Halloween. They are, as always, just a starting point. And… OK some of them are not “black.”
Film: Night of the Living Dead
Zinfandel vines live so long it’s just… spooky. This wine is sturdy enough to stand up to pretty much anything you’re cooking (though it will murder delicate salads), perfect for a movie about people trying to stay standing in a pretty apocalyptic situation.
Film: Les Diabolique
Contra Costa County isn’t known for being “wine country.” You might not even have heard of it unless you’re a big Negativland fan or you happen to have grown up here. Uh, there. (Disclosure: I currently live in this scary, scary place.) If you have been to this strange land east of Oakland, you know its dominant feature is Mount Diablo, a strange and storied peak rich with legends about The Prince of Darkness revealing himself to Franciscan priests and known for its tendency to turn bloody red at sunset. Grapes grown in the shadow of the Devil’s Mountain are a perfect foil for Clouzot’s mysterious and devilish Les Diaboliques.
Movie: Black Sunday
Italian horror Wondertwins! Freakazoid 1970s Italian horror, meet Stella Rosa Black, a semi-sweet, semi-sparkling deep-dark Italian red. Dominant flavor profile is blueberry-boysenberry. There’s significant residual sugar here so I don’t recommend pairing this baby with candy corn. If you like cheddar-dusted popcorn, that’s probably a better bet.
Show: The Walking Dead
No brainer. Literally. Because zombies. These wines are fun, but even more fun are their animated labels. A fleshy Bordeaux style blend, Blood Red is kind of a red fruit affair with raspberry, cherry and a tart hint of pomegranate. The magic of Living Labels lets you download an app, scan the bottle with your phone… and watch the dead reanimate. Spoooooky! You might be so mesmerized by the labels that you forget what you’re watching, but who cares?
Film: The Rocky Horror Picture Show
In 2012, Ian Hutcheon, a winemaker with a thing for astronomy, released a seriously from-outer-space wine: Meteorito is a Chilean Cab aged in a vat with an ancient meteorite plunked into it. Talk about terroir. And what do you pair with a wine from outer space if not Tim Curry in fishnets and pearls? You’re welcome.
Film: Street Trash
J. Michael Muro’s 1987 film Street Trash is part of a pretty exclusive little group of splatter gems known as “Melt Movies,” for the simple reason that their main claim to fame is that they feature people melting. As in, melting to death, and quite messily at that. In particular, Street Trash is particularly icky both in its visuals and its morals—it’s about a shady liquor store owner who finds a case of mysterious bootleg hooch/wine in his basement and decides to sell it for $1 a bottle to the local bums and winos. The only problem is, consuming these bootleg bottles of “Viper” causes the victim to melt into a screaming pool of blue ooze. Perhaps you can imagine that these poor melted souls have been recycled into the blue wine in your glass? If that’s not an appetizing thought for Halloween, I don’t know what is.