Let’s have some fun. It’s kind of wild how Halloween is my favorite holiday, even though it’s the one fun day where wine is not usually part of the festivities. There are no traditional Halloween meals to pair wine with. Wine and candy pairings are a trick, not a treat — and this year, Halloween parties, where wine does have a place, are cancelled (very sad, scary clown face).
This year, in lieu of planning a costume months in advance that will give VinePair CEO Adam Teeter waking nightmares, I’m celebrating my favorite holiday by renting and streaming some of my favorite horror films this month, watching something within the genre every night from now until the 31st.
This got me thinking, how would I (Vine)Pair wine (see what I did there) with some of the top-notch scary movies out there? When pairing wine with horror films there are a few things to consider. Number one is … just kidding, there is no right or wrong way. But! For some films, I considered where the movie takes place and tried to choose a wine from that area. For others, I simply chose wines that could settle viewers into the mood.
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This is all so damn subjective, but the more I thought about it, the more fun it became. Am I stretching a little? Yes. But that’s the fun of this holiday. It’s all about creativity! And since I can’t make my werewolf mid-transformation costume this year — complete with lifelike, oozy cartilage and candy bone fragments I can snap off my shoulder to offer my peers — I can have my fun here. Here are some of the ideas I came up with. Hope you find they pair well with fear and fun.
‘As Above, So Below’ + Cellier des Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Reserve 2018
Since the “Blair Witch Project” came out in 1999, it’s been fun watching the “found footage” genre of horror evolve. Not all hit the mark, but when they do, it’s quite a ride. This 2014 sleeper does the work and comes out on top with some legit claustrophobic, sub-human insanity. It takes place in Paris, following a group of documentarians who head into the catacombs to search for a relic. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t take long for it to really hit the fan. I can imagine all of them at a bistro as scooters vroom by — settling into Paris before the adventure while sharing a bottle of cheap bistro red and steak tartare. This affordable Rhône blend would totally be on a bistro wine selection. Sip this, and settle in to get unsettled (#feelme?).
‘The Amityville Horror’ + Hermann J. Wiener Riesling
There are over a dozen films based on this “true life” story, but only a few tackle the original story from the original novel — others just riff on the idea. My fave is the 2005 version with Ryan Reynolds (hi, Ryan). It’s a fun haunted house romp with some original scares taking place in Long Island, N.Y. So why not settle in with a New York wine to feel like you’re their next-door neighbor? Even though this wine is not from Long Island, it is a grape that truly represents the state as a wine-growing region. This Riesling came in at No. 2 in our 2018 top 50 wines. It’s a comfy, cold weather white with frothy acidity, a slight sweet vibe, and good minerality. This wine pairs perfectly with caramel popcorn on a blustery night and this creepy, old-school ghost story with classic scares.
‘Silence of the Lambs’ + Toscolo Chianti Classico DOCG 2016
I mean, this one is almost a given. Iron-tinged liver dredged in flour, seared brown in butter and oil, then sautéed with shallots and a dollop of cream just until the center is pink and tender. Fava beans softly boiled and tossed with a mixture of fresh bread crumbs and herbs. Sounds like a devilishly delicious Halloween night dinner for two, paired with a bottle of earthy Chianti that smells like cherries and cranberries along with freshly turned soil. I won’t ask where you got the liver…
‘Scream’ + Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay 2017
This movie reminds me of hanging out with friends when the parents are gone. It seems like every killing scene lacks a parental figure, and even if they do come home, it’s too late. Also, this movie was filmed in wine country — Sonoma County, specifically — so I’m thinking lights off, a comfy couch, and a bottle of Sonoma Chardonnay that your parents would have in the fridge to drink while they pay bills. This buttery and oak-slathered Chard is perfect for a “Scream” viewing. Pair this with some local cheeses and salty nuts. Just keep an eye on the knives.
‘Coraline’ + Erath Pinot Noir 2018
Neil Gaimean wrote this eerie tale for his daughter Holly when she was just five years old. It is a twisted “Alice in Wonderland”-style story that grabs your imagination while being thoroughly terrifying. The studio in which it was filmed was a 140-thousand- square-foot warehouse in Hillsboro, Ore. I would love settling in to watch this 2009 kid-friendly horror film with a fuller-style Pinot Noir from, well, Oregon. This Pinot is made from grapes sourced throughout the state’s wine-growing regions. It has good lift, but a nice mocha depth to sip as a mouse leads Coraline to a land of button-eyed doppelgängers.
‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ + DeLille Cellars D2 2017
The key to this film is uneasiness. It seeps into your soul and gives you the chills. It’s the kind of film that stays with you. You find yourself thinking about it at random moments throughout your day, and the chill ripples through you again. I was a “Twin Peaks”-obsessed teen in the ’90s, and this was the culmination of all the craziness I loved about this dark, demonic murder mystery taking place somewhere in the forested mountains of Washington State. To calm that uneasy chill, a nice, oaky red blend from the Columbia Valley in Washington is in order. Solid, soft, and dark, it has a nice depth with a quiet, vanilla kiss. Turn off your ceiling fans, and if you see denim out of the corner of your eye … RUN!