WHAT: It’s getting close to Halloween so you had better start looking for those special wines for the big Halloween party. I don’t know why, but it seems like every year adult parties are getting more popular on this holiday.
Many of the games and themes of adult Halloween parties involve hard alcohol, and that works fine if everyone can walk home from the party. But if you’re driving, or if you just want to ease off a little, there are a lot of wine ideas for Halloween.
It all starts with just the right wine, and one of my favorites this time of year is Casillero del Diablo, which translates to “cellar of the devil.” This vintage comes in special Halloween bottles marked “devilish release.” Besides the devil’s seal, the bottle features painted markings that look like the flames of hell.
What’s inside the bottle is anything but devilish.
The wine comes from Concha y Toro, which makes a whole range of wines that are part of my go-to list for when I need a wine I know will please. The cabernet is at the top of my list.
The wine is a bright, dark plum in the glass with pleasant aromas of ripe cherries and plums. The taste is rich and round, full of ripe fruits such as plums, cherries and blackberries, with a touch of oak.
The grapes are grown in Chile’s Central Valley in rocky, stony soil that drains well. The wine is 100 percent cabernet sauvignon.
After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, 60 percent of the wine is aged for eight months in medium toast American oak. The remaining 40 percent is aged for eight months in stainless steel.
If you think white wine is scarier, you can go for the Casillero del Diablo sauvignon blanc in a similarly painted bottle. The wine is a pale straw color with green tints. The aroma hints at citrus and peach. The taste is elegant and round, finishing with crisp acidity.
If you plan to have a Halloween dinner party, here are some ideas to make it spookier.
• Punch: Make a sauvignon blanc-based punch, but put some zip into it with bloody hands. Fill latex gloves with cranberry juice and freeze them. When ready to serve, remove the gloves and drop the hands into the punch for extra color. Watch as they bleed into the punch.
• Main course: Make a goulash with some wine in the sauce. The deep, rich beef flavors with mellow spicy notes are a perfect partner for Casillero del Diablo cabernet sauvignon. Serve it over spätzle or egg noodles. For more fun, serve the goulash from a cast iron cauldron in the middle of the table.
• Dessert: Use a ghost cookie cutter to create a ghost-shaped cheesecake and chocolate icing to trace a spider web on the plate. It looks like the ghost is flying out of the spider web.
WINERY: Concha y Toro has several lines of wines at many price points, from the Don Melchor to the Cassillero del Diablo. All are best sellers.
The Concha y Toro history goes all the way back to Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, a Chilean statesman, entrepreneur and vineyard owner in the late 1800s. He brought vines from Bordeaux and planted them on his estate.
When some of his best wines were disappearing from his cellar, he decided he had to do something to keep people out. So he started the rumor that his deepest cellars were haunted by the devil. That’s where he put his best wine, and the thefts stopped.
Concha y Toro kept the name, which means “cellar of the devil,” and it is now the company’s best selling wine. The Concha y Toro winery has 11,200 acres of vines spread throughout Chile’s major wine regions: Maipo, Maule, Rapel, Colchagua, Curico and Casablanca.
The company now sells more than 29 million cases of wine a year in more than 135 countries. Casillero del Diable is Chile’s best selling wine around the world.
Other varietals from Casillero del Diablo include chardonnay, pinot grigio, viognier, carmenere, merlot, shiraz, shiraz rosé, malbec, pinot noir and a late harvest. All are the same price, and all are well-made and delicious.
Other Concha y Toro brands include Gran Reserva, Don Melchor, the Terrunyo line and Marqués de Casa Concha.
GOES WITH: We had this wine with vegetable beef soup, a dinner I probably make more than anything else. It’s a hearty soup full of complex flavors because I put in so many different flavors. It’s also a soup my grandmother and mother made when I was a child.
The Casillero del Diablo cab is the perfect wine with this soup because the smooth fruit flavors nicely complement the vegetables and the tasty beef. I like to make the soup overloaded with beef, using about five pounds of stew beef and shank for a pot that makes 30 servings.
Other vegetables I use are onions, potatoes, leeks, carrots, celery, turnips, parsnips, tomatoes, corn and okra. Of course, there are no wrong vegetables for a soup like this; you just use your favorites or whatever you have on hand.
Start by boiling the beef, cut to bite-sized pieces, to make the broth. Add more cans of broth and then all the vegetables and cook until it’s all tender. I put in the okra and some parsley last, so the okra doesn’t get too mushy. I serve it over noodles.
You can pair this wine with any hearty meal, such as roasts, game, stews, dishes with herb flavors, pasta dishes and mature cheeses.