Wine and Spirits: A Definitive Vino - Horror Pairing
Updated: Apr 29
The leaves are changing, the weather is getting colder, and the color of my wine is turning from white to red. It's the most wonderful time of the year - spooky season. And if you're anything like me, you're a huge sucker for all things horror.
The only thing that makes horror films more fun is pouring yourself your favorite glass of wine to enjoy with it. Whether you're drinking the wine to calm your nerves, or just adding some flavor to the overall experience, you can't go wrong with this dynamic duo.
I enlisted the help of The Pod People for suggestions on which movies to watch from each of these categories. These boys talk about all things horror on their podcast and are an excellent listen. The next time you need good horror content, tune in to their weekly reviews - but don't forget your glass of vino!
Teen Thrasher + Gamay
Teen thrashers are light-hearted, full of plot holes, and often don't take themselves too seriously. Ergo, light-bodied red wine is perfect to sip alongside some teen murders. Gamay is a nice fruity red that carries notes of pomegranate, purple flowers, and potting soil. An often fruity wine, with hints of earthy flavors, is perfect for a category of film that is often corny with hints of scary.
The Pod People's teen thrasher suggestion:
Ben: Chopping Mall (1986 - dir. Jim Wynorski): Chopping Mall checks all my boxes for a perfect Teen Scream horror flick; horny teenagers, huge shopping complexes, awful hairdos, 80s synth soundtracks, one-liners aplenty, Barbara Crampton, killer robots, exploding heads, and an irate Dick Miller. Okay, well the last few may be personal preference but Chopping Mall is a sight to be seen; one of the most entertaining and inventive horror movies of the eighties.
Matisse: Cabin Fever (2002 - dir. Eli Roth): A hilarious and criminally underrated satire of the "cabin in the woods" horror subgenre, Eli Roth's feature-length debut is also his magnum opus. An absurd and beautifully shot romp that doesn't skimp on the gore and serves as a perfect time capsule for a bygone era of early-2000s horror.
Cleveland: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974 - dir. Tobe Hooper): What better way to ease into the cool weather of the Halloween season than with Tobe Hooper's sweltering summer masterpiece? A visceral, brutal masterclass in the atmosphere, production design, and cinematography, Texas Chain Saw is a film you experience with all your senses... whether you want to or not!
Apocalypse + Chianti
The only merit I considered when pairing this wine is that I really, really like it. If the world is ending I would at least want to soak it all in with a glass of one of my favorite reds in hand. Chianti is a fantastic Italian wine with high tannins, high acid, and an excellent mix of fruit and vegetal aromas. This full-bodied red pairs great with a growing body count on your television.
The Pod People's apocalypse suggestion:
Ben: The Happening (2008 - dir. M. Night Shyamalan): What better movie to drink to than this apocalyptic trainwreck? Mark Whalberg gives one of the most bizarre performances I've ever seen. Impressive in its awfulness--a prime example of an auteur completely going off the rails, and a primo "so-bad-it's-good" film.
Matisse: In the Mouth of Madness (1994 - dir. John Carpenter): Do you read Sutter Cane? John Carpenter's brilliant, metatextual film leads the viewer on a labyrinthine descent into Lovecraftian horror that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. All seen through lens of a wonderful, manic performance by horror icon, Sam Neill!
Cleveland: 28 Days Later (2003 - dir. Danny Boyle): This lo-fi, low budget cult classic reimagines the zombie apocalypse, forever changing the landscape of the genre. Danny Boyle transforms the slow, shambling risen dead into berserk, rage-fueled viral infected. Better start running!
Demons + Petite Sirah
This nice, juicy red is the perfect drink for watching demons possess unsuspecting humans. Petite Sirah is a fun, fruity wine that's really taking over the industry. Millennials can't get enough of this full-bodied dry red. A trailblazing wine like this pairs excellently with a horror classic. The mix of new age and timeless trope will keep you interested down to the very last drop...or exorcism.
The Pod People's demon movie suggestion:
Ben: Prince of Darkness (1987 - dir. John Carpenter): The second Carpenter classic to make this list, and one of his most underrated. The devil is green goo in a jar! Truly unique and intensely creepy!
Matisse: The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015 - dir. Oz Perkins): The son of legendary horror slasher Anthony Perkins delivers a moody, though-provoking story of possession with some impeccably chilling sequences. But is the Devil real? Or is he all in your head?
Cleveland: The Evil Dead (1981 - dir. Sam Raimi): Often overshadowed by its sequel/reimagining, the OG Evil Dead offers a more grounded take on a group of teens haunted by an ancient, demonic evil in the woods. The breakout roll of the iconic Bruce Campbell, this film's legacy speaks for itself!
Ghosts + Chardonnay
I associate fall pretty heavily with nice, robust red wines. But if you're a big white wine drinker, a full-bodied Chardonnay is a great option for your horror pairing needs. Also, I hate wine rules. If you like white, drink white. Don't worry about the season.
Anyways, I digress. Chardonnay, especially those from California, are often thick, creamy, and heavy in body. This full-body makes up for the...lack of body that you are seeing on your screen.
The Pod People's ghost suggestions:
Ben: Candyman (1992 - dir. Bernard Rose): Truly unique in how it takes a slasher premise and turns it into a profound, cerebral exploration of race, class, and intergenerational trauma. The remake is on the horizon, so this is the perfect time to check out the original!
Matisse: Pulse (2001 - dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa): This J-horror classic is a chilling (and often overlooked) examination of the horrors of isolation and detachment created by the age of the internet. A desolate slow burn with some of the eeriest ghosts I've ever seen, the internet may have changed since the release of Pulse, but the horror it espouses is more relevant than ever!
Cleveland: The Shining (1980 - dir. Stanley Kubrick): Kubrick's only foray into conventional horror, his meticulous style only serves to heighten the ghostly terror of the Overlook Hotel. Combined with iconic performances from Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duval, this makes The Shining an undeniable masterpiece.
Gore + Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir, especially bottles from Oregon, often have a game-y like smell and taste to it. Pinot is a perfect pairing option for those bloody, gory, gut-wrenching horror scenes. Plus, Pinot's tend to have secondary notes of burnt leaves, cedar, and mushrooms. If you're not into gore, consider pouring yourself a glass of Pinot the next time your friend invites you to their bonfire. You won't be disappointed.
The Pod People's gore suggestion:
Ben: The Beyond (1981 - dir. Lucio Fulci): How could we have a horror list without a giallo? The Italians bring it; while the plot is incoherent, the dubbing is often silly, and the acting is bizarre, The Beyond is a masterclass in incredible practical effects and use of color.
Matisse: Hellraiser (1987 - dir. Clive Barker): Based on his own novella, The Hellbound Heart, Clive Barker delivers a perfect realization of his macabre vision. Hellraiser features unparalleled practical effects and creature design, not to mention absolute buckets of gore. Oh, we have such sights to show you!
Cleveland: The Fly (1986 - dir. David Cronenberg): We would be remiss if we didn't give the master of body horror his due. Cronenberg's reimagining of the 1950 film of the same name offers some of the nastiest, most visceral effects ever to grace the silver screen as we observe Jeff Goldblum's slow, agonizing transformation into a nightmarish amalgam of man and insect.
Who else is shamelessly basic like I am and can't get enough of fall? What have you all been drinking with your favorite Halloween movies?