Wine and Food for Halloween
Enjoying Halloween candy is a timeless tradition. However, sweets alone do not make for a complete meal on a late October night. Below, you'll find some ideas for Halloween dishes - along with some delicious wine pairings that will make your holiday even more festive.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - Prosecco
Carving pumpkins inevitably results in a bounty of pumpkin seeds. Roasting them with a little salt and oil produces a delightful, savory snack with a perfect Halloween theme. Offer them to your guests when they first arrive, along with a glass of Prosecco. Sparkling wine serves as an elegant aperitif, and the off-dry fruitiness of this Italian wine will play perfectly with the crisp saltiness of the seeds.
Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad - Pinot Grigio
For the first course, try a sweet potato and black bean salad with Pinot Grigio. This combination not only evokes the Halloween color scheme, but it also offers a healthy counterpoint to the candy consumed later in the evening. Roast or boil the sweet potatoes, then toss them with the black beans and some olive oil, salt, and pepper. The simplicity of this dish calls for a wine that won't draw too much attention away from the food. Pinot Grigio has a dry and refreshing character that provides a delicate and enhancing accompaniment to the salad, with flavors of apple, pear, and bitter almond.
Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp - Verdejo
This entree is visually exotic and creepy but remains easy for your guests to enjoy, as it features familiar ingredients, flavors, and textures. Simply use your favorite shrimp and pasta recipe but substitute black noodles for regular dried pasta. Black pasta is generally either colored with squid ink during production or made from black beans. The Verdejo grape from Spain is dry, crisp, and refreshing, just like Sauvignon Blanc - though Verdejo remains far more obscure. Its zingy citrus flavors and bright acidity will complement the shrimp in the dish and cleans the palate between each bite. Fortunately, Verdejo can be found relatively easily for a great value.
Spider Dogs - Pinot Noir
Spider dogs are made by cutting the ends of a regular hot dog before cooking. The thin pieces at the ends curl up and produce fun shapes. You can make them look like spiders, octopuses, or other creepy Halloween creatures. These simple, entertaining creations are a perfect way to make sure kids get some food in them before they go trick-or-treating and start devouring candy. For the adults at the party, a glass of Pinot Noir will make a welcome addition to the meal with a light, dry palate and intense fruity flavors. Try Pinot Noir from Burgundy or the Willamette Valley in Oregon for a culinary experience slightly more refined than the food alone provides.
Black Pizza - Sangiovese
Another example of a scary Halloween dish that tastes perfectly normal, these pizzas are made just like any other, except that the sauce is dyed black and layered on top of the cheese. You can use any toppings you like, though some items, like sausage, black olives, or red peppers will enhance the creepy effect. You can dye the sauce with food coloring or use squid ink if you can find it. Squid ink has very little flavor and won't have a significant influence on the taste of your pizza. Pair your monstrous looking pie with the Italian grape Sangiovese, which features a medium body and dry palate, as well as tart berry and cherry flavors with an earthy finish. It's the classic pizza wine.
Candied Apples - Muscat
Given the number of sweets available on Halloween, it might seem silly to provide dessert after dinner, but you should make an exception for the iconic candied apple. I suggest using twigs instead of popsicle sticks and food coloring to enhance your dip. Be sure you know the type of tree you're getting your twigs from and check to make sure it's safe to use with food. Dying your apples black and red makes for a striking display. You could even dip the apples in black caramel and then drizzle a little red caramel over them for a bloody effect. In any case, these apples are going to be very sweet, so you'll need a sweet wine for pairing. Try a late-harvest Muscat. These wines are intense and luscious, with flavors of peach, apricot, ginger, and honey. You can find excellent examples from Australia and France, to name just a few sources.
Hopefully, this post will help you enjoy your Halloween more fully with dinner ideas and pairings to delight those of you who love wine as much as candy. Have a spooky, fun, and delicious holiday!