The fall season brings the chill in the air straight to your bones when you curl up to watch (or re-watch) horror movie favorites with some booze, of course. However, the viewing experience, when paired with the right wine, leaves the viewer anything but impaired. Steven Mirassou of Steven Kent Winery in Livermore, California, describes a horror movie and a wine pairing experience as, “something that holds up to the weight of the film, enhancing the aspects such as themes, music, and lighting nuances which are all notes to consider when pairing a wine with a horror movie.”
Steven Mirassou suggests a Cab Franc as the perfect pairing with horror movie big hitter, The Exorcist. “The movie requires a wine to take the edge off,” says Mirassou. The music alone is enough to cause panic in any viewer but the complex herbal notes and gamey qualities of the Cab Franc in opposition to the nuances of the film’s score amplify the height of fear in The Exorcist.
The iconic 1931 Frankenstein with its macabre plot benefits from a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. Its lingering notes of pepper put a little pep in the viewer’s step for the chase of Frankenstein’s monster. Although aesthetically the black and white film is elusive to the eye, an easily enjoyed Cabernet Sauvignon creates the space to engage with the film and see more than color.
Rob Zombie’s 2007 adaptation of the cult classic, Halloween, provides terror while highlighting the tension in Michael Myers re-haunting of his small town. A Bordeaux with a smoky, plum quality pairs well because of the layers of the blend that mirror the re-imagining of one of the most treacherous villains on the big screen.
Psychological horror movie The Babadook is an emotional haunt that uses sparse viewings of the movie’s “monster” and relies on tense and mind-bending scenes—requiring a wine that cuts through the heaviness. A medium-bodied Zinfandel with a spicy finish and earthy notes answers that call.
From the 80s, The Fly is known for its transformative special effects that deliver gross and horrific images while the main character deteriorates into the films iconic monster. Pair with a light-bodied Pinot Noir to masks the stomach-churning body morphing on screen.
Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Carrie, is a slow burn. A full-bodied Malbec with a dry finish sustains the developing supernatural powers of Carrie. The Malbec has typically softer tannins making it an easier wine to drink, while still packing enough punch on the palate.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula thrives on the dramatic American Gothic setting and dark lighting to add to the infamous vampire’s horrific appeal. The film pairs with a smooth and enticing Syrah that is light on the nose and has a bite just like the villain. Syrahs are also typically dark in color and pack a bold flavor that taper off and allows the viewer to dive into the theatrical world of Count Dracula.
Insidious is an intense supernatural horror that conjures emotional terror and yanks the viewer into moments of genuine fear while delivering on quality cinematic storytelling. This film benefits from a medium-bodied Merlot that sustains the film with its smooth finish, providing relief from the films nonstop intensity.
Hereditary preys on the darkness of humanity. This nuanced scare is rich with quick, but powerful images, symbols, and lingering haunts that is best viewed with a Chianti, which cuts through richness with its dry and highly acidic qualities. This wine brings the viewer to the forefront of the films terrifying secrets.