Bewitching wines...

There are some really fun options for on point wines to have this Halloween. Rob Mondavi's 2011 Spellbound Cabernet Sauvignon or the Charles Smith's 2010 Velvet Devil Merlot both have happily haunting names. More importantly, they're wines that pair well with autumn eats. Try Spellbound with chorizo and fontina topped pizza. Or serve the Velvet Devil Merlot alongside red wine-braised short ribs. 

For our candy-passing-out-party, I was drawn to a wine with a bit more mystery in its name, Sean Thackrey's Pleiades XXII. You may know the Pleiades as the seven sisters in Greek mythology who commited suicide only to be immortalized by Zeus when he placed them in the night sky as stars.

Sean Thackrey's Pleiades XXII is a wickedly irreverent blend, which includes: Sangiovese, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Marsanne.

Who'd have thought this unorthodox mix could be so good?! It's masterful: fragrant and voluptuous. Loads of pomegranate and orange zest on the nose. Lashings of spice and raspberries with a dry clean finish.  

We'll drink our Pleiades XXII with a smile on our face and a bowl of parsnip and pancetta risotto (see recipe below) balanced on our laps as we give out treats and admire costumes.

Parsnip and Pancetta Risotto
  • 1 lb parsnips (cored and diced)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Roughly  1 cup of cubed pancetta (approximately 3 oz)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 medium leeks (white part diced)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • Small pinch saffron
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 T butter
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Parboil the parsnips in water for 3-5 minutes, then place on paper towel to drain. In a separate pot, heat wine, chicken broth and saffron (season with salt/pepper to taste).
In a large sauté pan, brown pancetta in small amount of olive oil over medium heat. Remove and drain pancetta.

Add additional olive oil to pan and sauté leeks, garlic and drained parsnips for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Pour remaining olive oil into pan. Add rice and stir to coat with olive oil. Slowly ladle 1 cup at a time of hot broth mixture. Stirring pan constantly and maintaining an even simmer. As soon as broth is absorbed, add another ladle (cooking time should take ~18 minutes).

Fold in parsnip, leek, garlic mixture and pancetta. Add butter and grated cheese. Serve immediately and offer additional cheese.


  1. Took your recommendation and got the Spellbound and Velvet Devil. Both huge hits! Also tried Apothic 2012 Dark. A big hit too. Thanks for helping make our trick or treating get together even more fun.

  2. All right! Thanks for letting me know. I'll be on the look out for Apothic 2012 Dark...


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