I am no fan of Halloween. I guess I like it in the abstract: getting all dressed up in frightening costumes and scaring the bejesus out of people certainly has an appeal. As with most “holidays” in this country, however, the tradition and original intent has been largely lost behind the economic engine that it has become.
What is the Halloween equivalent to “Bah Humbug”?
There is one bright spot, though. I am normally the one who walks the kids around the block, coaching them on how to Trick-or-Treat (I might think the whole activity is moronic, but you might as well be good at it). A few years ago, I started taking a wine glass with me, which I dare say was a brilliant move as there were countless people along the route drinking wine as they passed out candy. Thus, a much more palatable adult version of Trick-or-Treating was discovered.
Then, last year I was sent this:
It is a messenger bag with a wine bladder inside. You lift up the flap, and there is a spigot, enabling me to not only receive, but dole out some vinous libations along the route!
The bags are made by a company called Vivajennz, and despite the annoying music that starts playing the second you land on their website, they do have several nice looking bags that provide the same invaluable function.
What wine(s) will be in my satchel this year? Here are a couple of appropriately themed choices:
2016 Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc Chile “Devilish Release”: Retail $12. Under screw-cap. Wow. Bright and tart with lemon, lime, and a bit of peach (and not a trace of cat pee). Bright and focussed on the palate, this wine screams out for some seafood (oysters anyone?). After the first taste (which was a bit “meh”) I really came around to this wine. At $12, I would certainly say this is a “buy” (and a Devlish one at that). Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon Chile “Devilish Release”: Retail $12. Rich black fruit (blackberry and cassis) with some white pepper tickling the nose. A wonderful sipper on the palate with a bit of mocha thrown in for fun. Listen, this wine is not going to make your night. It just isn’t, but it is a fine quaffing wine that will help get you into the spirit of handing out a bunch of candy to kids you won’t recognize and probably don’t know either. And if one of their parents comes along with a glass in their hand, give them some of this—they probably need it more than you. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
More on Halloween…
Earlier this year, I lamented that the whole wine-pairing thing is getting out of hand. It seems to be the cool, hip thing to do these days and I place the blame firmly on the shoulders of the millennials, whoever they are, since they seem to be blamed for everything from the election this year to the increase in the abuse of prescription drugs (come to think of it, there might be a correlation there…).
Well, being far from a millennial both in age in spirit, I was nonetheless asked to pair a few ports with Halloween candy this year. Yeah. Well, the main problem is that I really don’t like Halloween candy to begin with, so the thought of trying each one of the ports with a multitude of candies was about as appealing as watching another political debate without the aid of any prescription drugs. (Please note: I am in no way advocating the watching of political debates.)
My disdain for Halloween candy has one exception: I really like Baby Ruth candy bars. This is an anomaly on so many levels (I don’t really like chocolate, individually wrapped food items, or anything with nuts in it, but I do like Caddyshack), so instead of investing in years of therapy, I just decided to roll with it. Thus, every year I steal all of tiny Baby Ruth miniatures from my kids’ candy stashes as soon as they collapse in bed on Halloween night.
Instead of tasting these three ports with a vast array of tooth decay agents, I stuck to what I know best and rated each of these on a Baby Ruth Factor (abbreviated to the soon-to-be-famous “BRF”).
2011 Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port: Retail $24. Late Vintage Port was a bit of a happy accident, although there is no clear evidence as to who is responsible. Basically, it spends more time in barrel than a vintage port (but less than a tawny), making them more approachable earlier. They are then usually filtered to remove the sediment and therefore eliminate the need to decant, but the process also strips it of some character (according to some). A pie loaded with blackberry and black currant, but also wrapped in a bit of smoke. A great bang for the buck here for sure. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points. Baby Ruth Factor? 7/10.
Cockburn’s Special Reserve Porto: Retail $18. Many sites claim that this is the “world’s most popular premium port.” As a researcher, I would first love to have a few definitions (“popular” and “premium” for example), but there is no denying that this is rather tasty. The grapes are hand selected before going through a rather traditional ruby port production rendering a fresher and more red fruit focused than vintage or LBV ports. Most rubies are filtered and relatively quickly released, designed for quick and easy consumption. This is certainly one of the finer Ruby Ports that I have tried (in fact, it may be at the top). Luscious red fruit bordered by pepper and spice, this has multiple levels and is simply delicious, regardless of the price. Outstanding. 91-93 Points. BRF? 7.5/10.
Graham’s 10 Year Tawny Port: Retail $36. Being able to understand the difference between Ruby and Tawny Ports is easier than you think–just remember the names. A Ruby port is younger, fruitier, and usually sweeter. Why? It spends less time in oak, and thus has more of a ruby color. A Tawny spends more time in oak (in this case 10 years), and is thus less sweet, has more secondary characteristics (think spicier, nuttier, and more caramelized dried fruit) and has more of a brown or tawny color. Certainly more amber in color with a decided dried fruit (raisin and fig) aspect. This is a much more ponderous style of port, with multiple levels and a lingering finish. Outstanding. 92-94 Points. BRF? 5/10.
Before undertaking this task, I thought that the BRF would have an inverse relationship to the perceived quality of the wine (that is, as one went up, the other would go down). I might be on to something there, but this is a far too small of a sample size to make any grandiose proclamations. It would need further examination, but someone else will need to take it up—I have already reached my Baby Ruth quota for the decade.