Celebrated each year on October 31, the tradition of Halloween began more than 2,000 years ago, according to National Geographic. Originally, the day was called Samhain, and marked a time when Celtic people believed spirits walked among the living on their way to the afterlife.
While much about Halloween has changed, the idea that witches and other supernatural beings spend one night a year among us is still widely celebrated. And what better way to celebrate the occasion than with an excellent wine with a festive label?
From all over California, here some of our favorite bottles with Halloween-appropriate wine labels to get you into the spirit.
Halloween wine to look for
The Prisoner 2017 Red (Napa Valley); $47, 92 points. The famous blend combines Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Charbono from throughout the Napa Valley, combining the grapes into a robust, flavorful explosion of soft, richly rounded fruit and body. It’s undeniably appealing. —Virginie Boone
Bogle 2017 Phantom Chardonnay (Clarksburg); $24, 91 points. Toasted oak frames the ripe pear and apple flavors in this full-bodied wine. It has very good depth, concentration and flavor complexity, with bright acidity and flavors of spice and fruit that flood the palate. —Jim Gordon
Graveyard 2017 Mortal Zin Zinfandel (Paso Robles); $38, 91 points. There’s a compelling mineral kick to the nose of this bottling, starting with aromas a crushed gravel aroma that gives depth to the dark strawberry, cherry pie and smoke tones. The palate is big and booming in ripe blackberry and strawberry flavors, but there are layers of tannins and baking spice that hold it all in check. —Matt Kettmann
Chronic Cellars 2017 Sofa King Bueno Red (Paso Robles); $22, 90 points. There’s a fascinating amount of sharp cinnamon on the fresh-smelling nose of this blend of 52% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 12% Petite Sirah, 8% Tannat and 7% Mourvèdre. The palate also offers that red spice but with energetic black-plum flavors as well, all clinging to a sticky texture. —M.K.
Michael David 2016 Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi); $20, 90 points. This lavishly oaked wine blends ripe black-fruit flavors with abundant baking spice, wood smoke and maple tones. It is big but fairly soft in structure, with moderate tannins that give it a seductive, extravagant edge. —J.G.
Tooth and Nail 2016 The Possessor Red (Paso Robles); $35, 89 points. Dense aromas of black cherry, black currant, roasted wood, dark mint and fennel show on the nose of this blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Petite Sirah and 6% Syrah. The palate is thick in texture, with full and rounded flavors of black cherry, cassis and dried herbs. —M.K.
Banshee Wines 2018 Rosé (Mendocino County); $25, 88 points. Lively citrus aromas and flavors seem to light up this pale-colored but appetizingly vibrant wine. White-cherry, raspberry and grapefruit nuances give it a fruity and refreshing profile. —J.G.
Ghost Pines 2016 Winemaker’s Red (Sonoma County-Lake County); $23, 87 points. Combining 44% Zinfandel with 37% Syrah, 9% Tannat, 9% Sangiovese and 1% other, the grapes are from Sonoma, Lake and Santa Barbara counties. All together it is a thick, leathery and concentrated expression of big oak, tannin and rich red cherry, currant and cranberry. —V.B.
Midnight 2015 Full Moon Red (Paso Robles); $24, 86 points. Blackberry and wood aromas converge on the nose of this simple but pleasant bottling. Woody flavors of leather meet with brighter berries and purple flowers on the palate, where the tannins are a bit sticky. —M.K.
Last Updated: August 16, 2023