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Hallowe'en Is a-Coming (October 21, 2004)

If a mob of diminutive villagers wielding pitchforks and flaming torches comes banging at your door on October 31st, don't be alarmed. They're not really interested in what you've got in your cellar.

However, their parents waiting on the curb may be in need of a glass of sustaining Transylvanian Gamay Nouveau. So walk this way.

Today's article celebrates Hallowe'en and house wines for ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night. In other words, what to drink as you sit waiting for the next home invasion by small people with large pillowcases and advanced cases of sugar high.

First, my wine choices that enter into the spirit of the occasion. These should have something to do with blood, devils and ghosts. If they have dead, graveyard, bones or witches in the name, that's also good.

Blood: Since red wine looks like blood, this is the first choice among Hallowe'en connoisseurs. Sangria (the name is based on the word for blood in Spanish) is an obvious choice, as is Chianti. The connection here is that Chianti is made mainly from the Sangiovese, grape which translates as "the blood of Jove (Zeus)." Or you could go directly to Vampire Wine, which is now the top-grossing wine (or is that gross-out wine?) from Romania in the US. According the public relations handout, "The vineyards literally are in beautiful Transylvania, not far from Romania's second largest city, Timosara, where today there is a pronounced Italian influence. As the leading wine from Eastern Europe, enthusiasts enjoy the crisp taste of the Vampire Pinot Grigio, which picked up a gold medal at the Long Beach Grand Cru and consistently outperforms the Italian Pinot Grigio that costs twice the price. The light and fruity Vampire Merlot is, of course, the company's best selling wine. The Vampire Cabernet is the winemaker's favourite, and the Vampire Pinot Noir is the owner, Michael Machat's favourite."

There is always that old Hungarian stand-by, Egri Bikaver, better known as Bull's Blood. The legend of this wine dates back to 1552 when the fortress of the town of Eger was under siege. The defenders were badly outnumbered and, fearing defeat they began to consume the local red wine in copious quantities, spilling it down their chests as they guzzled. When the besieging army saw them with red liquid running down their fronts they got the idea that their enemy had been drinking bull's blood. They turned and fled.

A good ploy to terrify the overly aggressive candy seeker.

Devils: Concha y Toro's Casillero del Diablo has an equally charming story behind it. Don Melchor, the founder of Chile's largest winery, discovered that his vineyard workers were stealing his best wines. In order to dissuade would-be thieves from entering the cellars, he spread the word that the lowest cave where he kept his best wines was the abode of the Devil (Casillero del Diablo). The plan worked and the name stuck. Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz are all available on the LCBO's general list.

Still on the theme of devilish wines, there's a British supermarket wine called Devil's Rock Gewuztraminer from Germany, a winery in Western Australia called Devil's Lair and a Devil's Gulch vineyard in California's Marin County. My favourite is Chapel Hill's The Devil's Tawny Port from McLaren Vale in Australia. Then again, you could cross the border to New York's Hudson Valley and pick up a bottle of Rivendell Winery's Undead Red.

Ghosts: Vintages has just released Cockfighter's Ghost Pinot Noir 2001 from Western Australia. The story goes that 175 years ago, while exploring an overland route to the Hunter Valley, the lead horse, called Cockfighte,r fell into quicksand and drowned in the Wollombi Brook. His ghost is said to haunt the vineyard near the site. Then we have Hermitage Hideaway Estate Ghost Riders Vineyard Shiraz in the Hunter, Gray Ghost Gewurztraminer from a winery in Virginia, Bogle Phantom Petite Sirah from California (Bogle is a Scottish term for "goblin," incidentally) and Savannah-Chanelle Pierre's Ghost Red Table Wine from California's Central Ghost, sorry, Central Coast.

On the witch front, you have a choice of Witch Creek Winery in California or Trevor Jones Wild Witch wines from Australia. And as far as graves are concerned, there's a whole region of Bordeaux you can choose from, unless of course you prefer New World wines, in which case I would head for Brokenwood's The Graveyard Shiraz in Australia or Clos Pegase Graveyard Hill Pinot Noir in Napa Valley. Brokenwood's vineyard was named The Graveyard when the town of Pokolbin was being planned. An area was set aside as a cemetery but the town never grew large enough to need the extra space. So they did the right thing and planted a vineyard instead.

If wine is not your poison for Hallowe'en, then how about a Hallowe'en cocktail: Bloody Eyeball Martinis on the Rocks?


    Per eyeball:
  • 1 Radish
  • 1 Pimento stuffed green olive
    Per drink:
  • 1 shot gin or vodka
  • ¼ shot dry vermouth (more or less to taste)


  1. Prepare ice ''eyeballs'' at least a day before you plan to use them. Peel radishes, leaving thin streaks of red skin on to represent blood vessels. Using the tip of the vegetable peeler or a small, knife, carefully scoop out a small hole in each radish, roughly the size of an olive. Stuff a green olive, pimiento side out, in each hole. Place one radish eyeball in each section of an empty ice cube tray. Pare the radishes down a bit to fit, if necessary. Fill the tray with water and freeze overnight.
  2. To make drink, fill a tall cocktail glass with 3–4 eyeball ice cubes, add ingredients in the order given. Shake or stir, as is your preference.

(This recipe from

Or how about Buffy's Vampire Slayer?


  • 1¼ cup cranberry juice
  • 2/5 cup apple juice (about 3 oz.)
  • 5 tsp grenadine syrup (1 Tbsp + 2 tsp)
  • 2/5 cup vodka (optional) (about 3 oz.)
  • ice cubes
  • orange slices for garnishing


  1. Put grenadine syrup in a pitcher.
  2. Add ice cubes, then pour in the vodka (optional), then the apple and cranberry juice.
  3. Pour into cocktail glasses and garnish with a slice of orange.




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