What you drink should not be the least bit scary – but that doesn’t mean the label can’t be the hit of your Halloween party!

Leave the vampire fangs at home and head to the package store to score beers and wines that are guaranteed to put a macabre chill over your celebration.

First up, Coney Island Freaktoberfest. On the surface, this is a typical domestic Oktoberfest, or Marzen, beer. But pour it in a pint glass and watch the blood–sucking wannabes gather!

This 22–ounce bottle pours freakishly blood red in the glass – with a distinctive pink head. It’s mild to the taste, low in alcohol – and the perfect session beer for your fright night session at 6.66 percent ABV. It’s from the Shmaltz Brewing Co. which also deploys Coney Island labeled beers that celebrate the freak show scene of classic boardwalk days.

Robert Mondavi Jr. creates the bewitching series of California wines under the label Spellbound. The haunting, dark label graces varietals ranging from Chardonnay and and Riesling to big Cally reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Old Vine Zin and Petite Sirah. Each is an easily accessible party favorite with treat–like pricing of $14–$17 per bottle.

The gothic atmosphere of England is the perfect setting for beers from Wychwood Brewery. I lean toward Scarecrow, an organic, golden pale ale that is a pub favorite around Oxfordshire. Pretty balance and ABV under 5 percent make this an easy witching hour quaffer.

Of course, Wychwood Wychcraft beautifully brews a trio of malts and a trio of hops into a easy drinking, citrusy refreshing blonde ale. It’s another lower ABV beer that won’t leave you bulging at the seams in last year’s costume.
Also from Wychwood is Hobgoblin, a rich, ruby beer that pairs perfectly with stews, roasted meats – and your favorite grilled Halloween treats.  This is a quintessential all hallows Eve brew with ABV over 5 percent.

Dining with the devil? Take a bottle of Garnacha de Fuego 2009 from Spain’s famed Calatayud region. This rich red Garnacha is loaded with body and brimming with tantalizing fruits.

A leering and bony smile stares back at you from the Aussie label Skulls Red Wine. Wine guru Robert Parker, who some critics claim dances with the devil on a regular basis, scores this blend of 60 percent Grenache and 40 percent Mataro a serious 90 points.

Lastly, Food and Wine magazine winemaker of the year Charles Smith offers Velvet Devil, a Washington state Merlot that is among the most elegant feeling and perfectly balanced Merlots I’ve ever tasted. The odd thing: This Merlot is, to the nose and the palate, rich with the essence of Kraft Caramels. Let it rest in the glass for a while – and the distinctive hint of candied apples rises to the forefront. Odd, entertaining – and sublimely Halloween! Boo!


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About The Author

Tim Rutherford

Tim Rutherford

Tim Rutherford grew up in rural Kentucky – then left home to pursue more than three decades as a photojournalist and newsman. A ground-breaking meal in New Orleans in 1979 set him on a path exploring food and wine. Six years ago he changed career paths – now spending his time writing about the people and places... more

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