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(MCT)—Isn’t it a shame grown-ups can’t go trick-or-treating on Halloween? Don’t we love dressing up? Don’t we crave candy? Especially free candy?

I trick-or-treated with classmates in my tiny home town in Michigan until my junior year in high school — until the people we approached started scolding us for taking candy meant for babies.

Still, I always say they can make me grow old, but they can’t make me grow up. So I cope by throwing a Halloween party as soon as the munchkins fill their sacks and head home to their stomach aches.

My entrée is always the same: Dead Man’s Meatloaf. You follow any good meatloaf recipe, but mold the loaf into the shape of a big, meaty gingerbread man. Use sliced, pimento-stuffed olives for its eyes, a carrot triangle for a nose, corn kernels for its lip-less teeth. Plop it on a plate, squirt some ketchup on it chest and thrust a paring knife into the goo.

By now you’re wondering, “What kind of wine goes with this?” The answer is red and soft and inexpensive. But still excellent.

So here you will find tasting notes on a number of very nice red wines in the $10 to $15 range. Just right for that meatloaf. Or burgers on the grill. Or whatever catches your fancy on that spooky night.

Oh, and if your kids take pity and share a bit of booty with you, keep in mind that these soft, sweet red wines go very well with chocolate.


—2009 Whiplash “Redemption” Proprietary Red Wine Blend, Calif. (65 percent syrah, 25 percent barbera, 10 percent zinfandel): black cherry and dark chocolate flavors, crisp and lively; $11


—2009 Match Book Tempranillo, Dunnigan Hills:. (90 percent tempranillo, 5 percent graciano, 5 percent cabernet sauvignon): aromas and flavors of blackberries, cinnamon and mocha, ripe tannins; $15.

—2010 Parducci “Small Lot Blend” Merlot, Mendocino County (100 percent merlot): red plum and cherry aromas and flavors, spicy cinnamon, soft tannins; $11.

—2011 Alamos Malbec, Mendoza, Arg. (85 percent malbec, 15 percent syrah): blackberry and clove aromas and flavors, medium body, soft tannins, hearty; $13.

—2010 Peter Lehmann “Art Series” Shiraz/Cabernet Barossa (75 percent shiraz, 25 percent cabernet sauvignon): aromas and flavors of cassis and milk chocolate, soft tannins; $13.

—2011 Robert Mondavi “Private Selection” Pinot Noir, Calif. (80 percent pinot noir, 12 percent syrah, 7 percent petite sirah, 1 percent Thompson seedless): intense tart cherry and espresso aromas and flavors, light body, $11.

—2009 Masked Rider “Gunsmoke Red” Wine, Calif. (29 percent petite sirah, 26.6 percent merlot, 11.2 percent cabernet sauvignon, 3.8 percent shiraz, 29.4 percent mixed red): red plum and espresso aromas and flavors, soft tannins, light body; $13.

—2008 Masked Rider Zinfandel, Calif.. (76 percent zinfandel, 8 percent shiraz, 5 percent malbec, 11 percent mixed reds): soft, sweet black raspberry and black pepper flavors, rich and hearty; $13.

—2009 Clayhouse Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles (80 percent cabernet sauvignon, 20 percent petit verdot): hint of oak, black cherry and black coffee aromas and flavors, soft tannins; $15.

Distributed by MCT Information Services