I’m not one for themes. And I’m not one for holidays. That said, I am certainly one for good drinks.

These days, packaging trumps all else on store shelves, sadly often masquerading the plonk (slang: cheap wine) inside. If a wine company spends $$$$ on marketing, that’s a tip that marketing trumps wine.

I’m all for a good label however – the first sense engaged in the experience is the eyes. There are labels and packaging that reference the darker side AND are honest and tasty – perfect for your Halloween plans. Here are five labels and juice that will suit your October 31, and any other day of the calendar year.



Moon Curser Vineyards
Afraid of the Dark 2013
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$22   +866152

You needn’t fear the dark to drink this beguiling, medium bodied white from the bottom reaches of the Okanagan Valley. Moon Curser Vineyards has proven that no one needs to fear Rhone varieties in BC, expressed through their concentrated wines like this roussanne, viognier, marsanne blend. These grapes can absorb the desert heat, expressed through the aromatic roses, peaches, ripe pear nose. The round, ripe and creamy palate shows orange blossom, gingersnap spice, ripe peach and nectarine and lime pulp. There’s a bitter peach fuzz on the warm finish. Partner with your Thai / Indian take out pre-trick-or-treat festivities. 88 points.


Cellar Dweller

Ravenswood Winery
Beseiged 2013
Sonoma, California
$25  898247

This limited release has arrived to BC just in time for Halloween, but we wish it would stick around for longer. Layered blend of mostly Sonoma County, with petite sirah, carignane, zinfandel, syrah, barbera, alicante bouschet and mourvèdre all playing a part in this deep, savoury blend. Dried and ripe fruit all teem together here – cherries, cassis, black plum, blackberry – along with scented violets, dried spice, subtle leather and sueded tannins. Enjoy now with veal or pork loin, or lay down for 1-2 years. 89 points.



Bodegas San Alejandro
Pablo Old Vine Garnacha 2012
Calatayud, Spain
$15  +205518

This will warm you after a night trick or treating. Round and ripe, with black cherry, anise, blackcurrant jam and cracked black pepper. More of the same on the palate, along with a rush of juicy black fruit, black wine gummies and dried herbs. Nice, honest fruit concentration over slightly ragged tannins, urging you to partner with grilled pizza or ragu sauced pastas. Another example of great red values from Spain. 87 points.



Fullglass Wines
Skulls 2013
South Australia, Australia
$20   +172825

Look directly at the label and tell me what you see. A man falling from a tree? Or a human skull? You don’t even need to have been drinking to be mesmerized by this artistic illusion, an illustration by artist Istvan Orosz titled Ship of Fools. However, be forewarned: if you drank a whole bottle of this heavyweight bruiser (16.5% alcohol!!!), you’d just be seeing stars (or be passed out).

The 16.5% alcohol is certainly evident – from first nostril cleansing sniff to the slow warmth down your throat. 100% Shiraz, this is from 20-60 year old Barossa vines, raised in American barriques. Deep purple in hue, with high intensity candied red and black herbed licorice notes, and a concentrated palate of polished black fruit, exotic spice, cinnamon, incense, toast and vanilla. Tannins are plush finish is inky black licorice. Even with all of this ripe and massive fruit, the alcohol is evident (no illusion could mask 16.5%). This is a monstrous wine. 87 points.


No Wineos

Crystal Head Vodka
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
$60  +56663

How to make your perceived colourless, odorless and flavourless spirit stand out in the competitive vodka market? Have a story and shout it. This product has a lot going for it before even considering what’s inside that head. First up – the packaging. The distinctive glass skull is based on the mysterious 13 Crystal Heads that have been found all over this planet. These heads are believed to be between 5,000 and 35,000 years old and were carved from a single quartz crystal over a period of several hundred years, sans tool marks. They are believed to offer spiritual power to those who hold or possess them. Secondly – the celebrity spokesperson. New age Ghostbuster, old school Blues Brother, and Canadian acting icon Dan Aykroyd has been a vocal and active supporter of his vodka. Thirdly – the scandal. The vodka was initially banned by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, reportedly due to their concerns about the appeal of the packaging to youth, and the possibility of binge-drinking resulting in alcohol poisoning. Those types of things get people talking.

But that aside, what’s inside?  Quadruple distilled grain spirit, thrice filtered through charcoal, and then through Herkimer diamonds, and free of any additives like glycol or sugar. There’s a faint vanilla sweetness to the nose and finish, but in the mouth it’s neutral, cool and clean, with a whisper of heat burn going down. The smooth neutrality makes this a natural for mixed drinks. Bonus = instant Halloween décor.


Each week Treve highlights 5 timely and tasty picks. Her weekly choices include Locavore (BC wines), Cellar Dweller (wines to lay down for a while for maximum enjoyment), Budgeteer (wallet-friendly bottles under $15), Adventurer (wines for geeks, enlightening or pushing the envelope) and No Wineos (a non-wine pro-alcoholic beverage). So what are you waiting for? DRINK This!


DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.
*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores. The price is suggested retail price, and may fluctuate depending on source. Wines are scored out of 100 points.






Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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