Wine for your Halloween Party

Reportedly Halloween  is the third biggest party day after New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday. Its not surprising with many adults wanting to drink their sweets instead of begging for them door to door. This year if you are hosting a party full of people dressed as Miley Cyrus, Walter White and Minions, you’ll need to buy a bunch of wine and nibbles to keep the party going.

There is no reason to break the bank buying expensive wine. Here are a couple of uncomplicated, inexpensive wines that will be crowd pleasers for your naughty nurse and Duck Dynasty dude and everyone in between.

First up, the folks at Gnarly Head are promoting their unpretentious, fruity Old Vine Zinfandel and Chardonnay as Gnarl-O-Ween wines. With the pumpkin packaging and easy on the wallet pricing, these wines will do the trick at Halloween.

The 2012 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel is made with grapes grown in Lodi on vines that are up to 80 years old. Its a blood red mouthful of bombastic blackberry and black cherry. It will go well with a fist full of fun sized snickers. It will set you back about $12 a bottle.

The 2012 Gnarly Head Chardonnay is also sourced from ancient vines creaking about the flat fields of Lodi. This is no restrained white Burgundy. Hell no, this wine dresses in leather and chains even after Halloween. The honeysuckle, tropical fruit and oaky flavors will go well with that apple you just bobbed for. Its a bargain at $10.

Concannon Vineyard is also promoting its wines as a Halloween treat. They have cooked up a ghoulish recipe to pair with the  2009 Conservancy Petite Sirah. Bay Area chef Joyce Goldstein, has a “Turkish Meatballs with Smoky Eggplant Puree” recipe that reminds me of the grapes for eyeballs and spaghetti for brains trick of my childhood haunted house (OK, it will taste better). She encourages us to dress up the meatballs to look like mummies by arranging shredded mozzarella cheese over the top and placing two slices of black olives for eyes. Here is the reasonably simple recipe to prepare for your Halloween party.

Turkish Meatballs with Smoky Eggplant Puree

Time: 1.5 hours
Serves: 4-6 people


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, not too lean
  • 1/2 cup grated yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne, or ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley plus a bit more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Flour
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cups plain tomato sauce, (canned is just fine) or Parmalat strained tomatoes.
  • 1 cup beef broth

In a mixing bowl combine the meatball ingredients with your hands. Fry a sample meatball and taste it to make sure the seasoning is balanced. Then form all of the meat mixture into balls that are the size of a walnut. You will have about 34 to 36 meatballs.

Dip meatballs in flour. Film a large sauté pan with olive oil over high heat. Brown the meat balls, in batches, turning to brown evenly, and set them aside on a plate in or a bowl. (Leave them a bit rare as they are going to simmer in the tomato sauce. You want them to be moist, not dry. )

In another large sauté pan, warm the tomato sauce and thin with beef broth. When ready to serve, add meatballs to tomato sauce and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes to warm the meatballs through.

For best balance with the wine, the folks at Concannon encourage you to “be sure to take a good mouthful of eggplant along with each bite of meatball. The eggplant is the key ingredient in this food and wine pairing.”

Now you just need to hire the fire dancers, fill up the smoke machine and carve a few pumpkins.

What are you drinking?

Published by

Matt McGinnis

As a marketing strategist for Pen & Tell Us, Matt McGinnis provides marketing, branding and communications counsel to food and beverage as well as other clients globally. He is also an avid beverage enthusiast, chronicling his interests as a Food & Drink contributing writer for CultureMap, as the Food & Drink columnist for Austin Man Magazine, and as a blogger for What Are You Drinking?. He is passionate about the wine industry having previously worked at a winery in Oregon and in wine sales. He has served as Guest Host of Sommelier Cinema at the Alamo Drafthouse, and is a Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers. His writing has been recognized as a Top 10 Food Blog by the Austin Chronicle in 2013 and 2014, with a 2011 Texas Social Media Award from the Austin American-Statesman.

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