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Demonic spirits

In the spirit of October, this week's offering is a grab bag of devilishly themed wines for Halloween -- along with my candy pairing ideas -- and a collection of Oktoberfest beers. Trick...or treat?

Evil Cabernet 2007: Carry your pocket mirror to read the inverted labels from this pair of juices from Australia.
Expect a hauntingly rich nose of jammy black currant with a smoky vanilla note. On the palate, search out black olive, smoky bacon, light pepper, red currants and hints of dark chocolate.

This is 100 percent Cabernet from wine maker Chris Ringland is aged in 30 percent new French oak. Your candy bag pairing? Why, Tootsie Roll, of course!

Pure Evil 2007: This all Chardonnay grape wine is sourced from the same southeastern Aussie vineyards as it red brother, but swings to the opposite end of the flavor spectrum -- in a good way.

I found Peach, melon, ripe tropical fruits and a hint of cashew. It finishes creamy, luscious and lingering. Candy pairing: Candy corn.

Hellfire White 2007: Hellfire and its red twin, Brimstone, hail from the Hood River, Oregon, Phelps Creek Vineyards. Hellfire is a blend of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewurztraminer that is handled like a tortured soul: cluster pressed, then fermented in a combination of stainless steel, neutral French oak and a dab of new French oak.

The results? Certainly no Frankenstein's monster!

A note of honeysuckle highlights granny smith apple and mint in its complex nose. Hellfire crisp, dry and long finishing with a bit of minerality. It is lovely as an aperitif or with pasta, quiche and summer salads. At the witching hour, enjoy it with that overly ripe apple from the old lady down the block.

Brimstone 2007: This red counterpart to Hellfire is as tortured as a mad scientist's unwilling subject. The blend of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir is cold-soaked as whole, de-stemmed berries for four to seven days -- and is hand punched twice daily. It's aged in new and neutral American and French barrels.

Delete - Merge UpThe effort pays. This wine unfolds to expose layers of plum, berry and dark chocolate flavors completed by a long, solid finish kissed with oak. It's a heavenly partner with food - from grilled burgers, Southern-style barbecue ribs to the Julia Child classic, boeuf bourguignonne. This would be divine with a dark chocolate Hershey's Miniature.

Oom-pah, oom-pah

Beer fans hear the bass oomph of the tuba all month -- it's Oktoberfest! Dust off your stein and give these a try:

Ayinger Oktober Fest-MÄrzen: A true Oktoberfest in every sense of the word, Ayinger consistently scores top style marks. It's golden in the glass and slightly sweet; plenty malty. The dryness comes from long maturation -- it's made in March to be ready for fall. Limited supplies may this hard to find, but The Distillery has a couple of kegs to tap.

Victory Festbier: Chef John in Statesboro told me he loves Victory Festbier, a smooth drinking, malty domestic craft beer in the European style. Two German malts, Munich and Vienna, team with whole flower German hops to flavor this marzen -- which may be a good introduction to Oktoberfest newcomers.

Moon River Tater Beer: Locally made using a hearty bunch of roasted sweet potatoes, Brewer John Pinkerton gives us his take on Oktoberfest -- without the spices. Smooth drinking, satisfying ale is what you'll get. Dress up the brew with a house blend of spices and crushed pumpkin seed as a glass rimmer.