We Asked Sommeliers to Recommend Wine Pairings for All of Our Favorite Horror Movies

Lindsey Lanquist
We Asked Sommeliers to Recommend Wine Pairings for All of Our Favorite Horror Movies
Photo: Allison Kahler.

October nights are made better by horror movies. Few things feel as distinctly autumnal as snuggling up with a cozy blanket, flipping on Netflix and spending hours alternately terrified, intrigued, surprised and disgusted by the scares horror directors have in store for their viewers. And horror movies, of course, are made better by wine. You know this. We know this. And today, we’re here with some good scary movies and wine combos.

Selecting a bottle of wine for any occasion usually involves some basic math: How many people are drinking? How long will you be drinking? And what snacks will you pair this wine with? This calculus becomes a little more onerous when movies are involved.

Do Alfred Hitchcock classics pair better with reds or whites? Reds give off a kind of haunted vibe you can’t really get with anything else, but what if you’re flipping on a lighter-hearted scary movie? It’s hard enough to figure out how to complement the tasting notes of foods—complementing the “tasting notes” of films is seriously next-level.

And don’t get me started on quantity. How long is the movie? How many people are watching it? How quickly can you expect to down a bottle over the course of a film?

This mental interrogation is seemingly unending—and incredibly daunting. Which is why we’ve turned to the experts. Here, two sommeliers give us recommendations for delicious (generally affordable!) wines to drink with some of the best scary movies on our watch-lists. Whip out your laptops and get ready to drink up.

The Babadook (2014)

“Aussie wine for an Aussie film. A classic in the making, the Penfolds Max’s Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon is as drinkable now as it will be in 10-15 years. The suspense that builds throughout [the movie] is the perfect parallel for this wine, which will intensify and develop in sync with this 95-minute film.” —Amanda McCrossin, sommelier and YouTube vlogger

Wine: Penfolds Max’s
Grape(s): Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: South Australia
Price: $22

“Nothing will make you think of the little boy in the film more than this Blue-Eyed Boy wine from Molly Dooker. A ripe Australian Shiraz with a kick of black and blue fruit [offers] plenty of body and oaky flavors [sure] to help cope with mommy issues.” —Fernando Beteta, master sommelier

Wine: Molly Dooker Blue-Eyed Boy
Grape(s): Shiraz
Region: South Australia
Price: $30

It Follows (2014)

“Practice safe sipping. A campy and slightly silly choice, Promisqous seems like the perfect wine for this occasion, as the name ‘implies a wanton disregard for convention.’ This film and wine definitely break the barriers of convention, with an unorthodox plot and unusual blend of Syrah, Cab, Grenache and Petite Sirah, [respectively].” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Promisqous Red Wine
Grape(s): Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Petite Sirah
Region: California
Price: $12

Predator Old Vine Zinfandel: Old vines make better wines, [with] more concentrated flavors and power. Zinfandel is jammy, ripe and spicy.” —Fernando Beteta (Plus, Beteta adds, the wine has literally has the word “predator” in its name.)

Wine: Predator Old Vine Zinfandel
Grape(s): Zinfandel
Region: California
Price: $19 (originally $24)

Rear Window (1954)

“Alfred Hitchcock was a straight-up wine geek. In addition to being an invited member of the legendary Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (a group of like-minded nerds who love wine from the region of Burgundy), Hitchcock purchased a vineyard in Santa Cruz, where he hosted the likes of Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant. and Jimmy Stewart.

The only appropriate wine in this situation would therefore be a wine as well crafted and legendary as this cinematic masterpiece—[a wine] that pays homage to his love of Burgundy and the wines of California where his beloved vineyard once was. The Calera Pinot Noirs are some of the most Burgundian in style from California, and show a precision and focus that falls right in line with this film.” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Calera
Grape(s): Pinot Noir
Region: Central Coast, California
Price: $25 (originally $32)

“Alfred Hitchcock was an avid wine collector and had a cellar in California. He seems [like] the type who’d be very sophisticated in his selections and taste. The Chateau Haut Batailley Pauillac 2014 is a classic French Bordeaux with history and aristocracy.” —Fernando Beteta

Wine: Chateau Haut Batailley Pauillac 2014
Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot
Region: Bordeaux, France
Price: $49

Creep (2014)

“A low-budget film that does something a little different very well. It’s only 77 minutes, [meaning] it’s not quite long enough for the average person to down a full bottle. But it’s the perfect [length] for a can (which equals half a bottle)!

The Sans Carbonic Carignan is a little funky and weird, but in the best way possible. Not unlike the film, there is real integrity and ‘production value’ in this wine, sourced from an organic single vineyard. [The Sans Carbonic Carignan is made] using a method called carbonic maceration, which often produces cheap wines. [But] this version is done really well, [making] the wine easy to drink with its juicy, red-fruited, brambly and slightly fizzy goodness.” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Sans Carbonic Carignan
Grape(s): Carignan
Region: Mendocina, California
Price: $12/can

AHS: Murder House (2011)

“This series from Ryan Murphy brings out some seriously twisted themes and left me feeling all sorts of surprised, uncomfortable and seriously satisfied. [The] dream team of a cast makes this odd web of twisted, demonic, erotic and downright disturbing moments believable and surprisingly realistic.

By doing all the wrong things in all the right ways, Murphy breaks a few barriers—and demolishes stereotypes with a zero-f****-given mentality akin to Charles Smith and his The Velvet Devil Merlot from Washington State. Smith puts Merlot into the driver’s seat of a Bugatti Chrion and lets her rip around a hairpin turn worthy of the devil herself. Sit down, twist off and click play to get your heart racing and have you screaming ‘gimme more’ (yes, like Britney).” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: The Velvet Devil
Grape(s): Merlot
Region: Washington State
Price: $12

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva 2013: Rioja wines have a sanguine flavor—earthy, gamey and bloody. The wines pair with almost every food, as they’re lighter than darker grapes, but still have plenty of structure.” —Fernando Beteta

Wine: Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva 2013
Grape(s): Tempranillo
Region: Rioja, Spain
Price: $14

Psycho (1960)

“Classic California meets classic California. Psycho has remained a seminal film—not only in the horror genre, but also across the board in cinematic history. The classic, vintage feel of the film is as artful as it is edgy, and I could think of no better wine to echo a similar sentiment than Mayacamas from Napa Valley.

One of the great historic wineries, not much has changed about the old building that lives way atop the Mayacamas range on Mt. Veeder. Stylistically, the wines are as long-lived as this film, and even current vintages will transport you to another time in Napa Valley’s history.

As the whites are more approachable in their youth than the reds, I’m recommending the Mayacamas chardonnay to enjoy while you watch Norman Bates work out his mommy issues.” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Mayacamas
Grape(s): Chardonnay
Region: Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, California
Price: $55

“Mommy’s other best friend is Pinot Noir—specifically, Block Nine Pinot Noir Caiden’s Vineyard 2017. The Caiden’s vineyard is named after the winemaker’s son. The Block Nine Pinot Noir [offers] red fruits, soft tannins and mouthwatering acidity.” —Fernando Beteta

Wine: Block Nine Pinot Noir Caiden’s Vineyard 2017
Grape(s): Pinot Noir
Region: California
Price: $10

Blair Witch Project (1999)

“A low budget plus a little dose of modern equals a bona fide hit. Despite making the Blair Witch Project for a staggeringly low $60,000, the movie’s producers employed ultra-modern marketing techniques to make it one of the most successful independent films of all time.

[Given this,] I felt the film was deserving of a wine that hustled as hard as it did. Enter: Dirty & Rowdy. This grape juice eschews fancy winemaking techniques employed by popular blockbuster wines in favor of a more natural, raw style their devoted cult following can’t get enough of.

But when the fire-plagued 2017 vintage erupted, the kids at Dirty & Rowdy had to embrace a few modern winemaking techniques to save the taste. What resulted was a perfect blend of [modern and natural]—a wine that ‘brings aromatic healing, salvation, and redemption.’ Shaky camera work and snot-faced girl aside, I think these two are a match made in cinematic heaven.” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Dirty & Rowdy ‘Familiar’
Grape(s): Mourvedre
Region: California
Price: $33

Amityville Horror (1979)

“I ain’t afraid of no ghosts. Whether you believe the story fiction or faux, the film and all its subsequent iterations tells a pretty graphic and horrifying ghost story. As the haunted house is located in Amityville, a small town in Long Island, N.Y., I think the Wolffer Estate Cabernet Franc from the same area will be just the thing you need to take off the edge [while watching this film].” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Wolffer Estate ‘Caya’
Grape(s): Cabernet Franc
Region: Long Island, New York
Price: $35

A Quiet Place (2018)

“Don’t make a sound! The pop of champagne, the squeak of a corkscrew—anything that makes noise is off limits. Naturally I went to my favorite screw top wine that only makes a small crack when opening: Broadbent Vinho Verde. It’s light, bright and won’t stain your couch when you inevitably jump when a noise is finally made.” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Broadbent Vinho Verde
Grape(s): Loureiro, Trajadura, Pedernã
Region: Vinho Verde, Portugal
Price: $8.99

“If they hear you, they hunt you. Rule #1: Don’t make a sound. Rule #2: Never leave the path. Rule #3: Red means run. When you can’t speak, your other senses increase. [Which is why I’ve chosen] Luca Malbec 2015, a dark red wine with intense aromatics and a visually appealing, almost pitch-black center.” —Fernando Beteta

Wine: Luca Malbec 2015
Grape(s): Malbec
Region: Mendoza, Argentina
Price: $30

Stranger Things (2016-present)

“Netflix and Chill with Ramona. Grab your Blondie T-shirt and a pair of leg warmers. As this show is ALL about the 1980s and definitely binge-worthy, I picked a wine that would capture the essence of the decade and allow you to have something to sip on the whole way.

At only 7.5% alcohol, Ramona is an updated and improved homage to the popular wine spritzers of the ’80s. From former sommelier Jordan Salcito, I’m obsessed with the Ruby Grapefruit which comes in cute canned four-packs! There’s a hint of sweetness, but enough acidity and low enough alcohol to keep you hydrated and perfectly buzzed for the entire two seasons.” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Ramona
Grape(s): ZIBIBBO
Region: Sicily
Price: $22 for four-pack

2017 Mourvedre The Prodigy from Eleven Winery: Have to support Eleven.” —Fernando Beteta

Wine: 2017 Mourvedre The Prodigy
Grape(s): Mourvedre
Region: Yakima Valley, Washington
Price: $26

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

“’I ate his liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti.’ While Chianti suffered permanent reputation damage as a result of this iconic line from The Silence of the Lambs film, the original line from the novel by Thomas Harris references a ‘big Amarone,’ instead.

It’s a stronger and much more apt choice for the sophisticated Dr. Lecter, as Chianti in that era was a more pedestrian and cheap wine (remember your grandma’s chianti in the basket bottle?!). Still, the writers were quite right to swap out the wine, as Amarone in the ’90s was very much an unknown (with few being exported out of Italy) that would have been lost on most of the audience.

Amarone is my first choice for this pairing, but a less expensive option is its baby sister, Valpolicella Ripasso, a sound alternative under $25.” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Masi Campolongo di Robe Amarone
Grape(s): Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Croatina
Region: Veneto, Italy
Price: $160

Wine: Remo Farina Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso
Grape(s): Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Croatina
Region: Veneto, Italy
Price: $22

“Has to be a Chianti for Hannibal. The Castello di Volpaia literally translates to ‘the fox’s den,’ and this medieval village in Tuscany has been making wines for centuries.” —Fernando Beteta

Wine: Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2015
Grape(s): Sangiovese
Region: Tuscany, Italy
Price: $38

Carrie (1976)

Spoiler alert: While there aren’t many people who haven’t seen or at least heard about the seminal scene at the prom, I should note that this Hogwash Rosé pays homage to what goes down toward the end of the film for poor Carrie. I think maybe I’ll just leave it at that ;).” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Hogwash Rosé
Grape(s): Grenache
Region: California
Price: $19

“The Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2017 is made with ‘super natural’ winemaking, meaning it falls into the category of ‘natural’ wines that do not use chemicals, added fertilizers or pesticides. They also draw on a minimal use of sulphur.” —Fernando Beteta (A super natural wine for a supernatural film? Sign us up.)

Wine: Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2017
Grape(s): Gamay
Region: Burgundy, France
Price: $30

Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary is deeply complicated and nuanced—layered with thematic symbols, talismans and curiosities that take a keen eye to spot. As you ingest (and subsequently dissect) the film, I’m sure you’ll be left pondering the demonic, satan-worshipping elements that drive the plot.

The urban wine myth surrounding the Rothschild-owned Opus One in Napa Valley (and Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux) has been a subject of debate for conspiracy theorists, anchored to idea that the family was among some of the biggest satan worshippers in history.

While both wineries are filled with icons and architectural elements that support many of these claims, nothing can be said for certain. I think it makes both of these wineries (which, by the way, produce two of the most complicated, nuanced and layered wines in the world) perfect pairings for this film. As both of these wines are incredibly expensive, I’ve included two less expensive second labels they make as well.” —Amanda McCrossin

Wine: Opus One
Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec
Region: Napa Valley, California
Price: $440

Wine: Overture by Opus One
Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec
Region: Napa Valley, California
Price: $130

Wine: Mouton Rothschild
Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
Region: Bordeaux, France
Price: $640

Wine: Mouton Cadet
Grape(s): Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
Region: Bordeaux, France
Price: $13 (originally $15)

“13 generation winemakers—passed from father to son since 1481—the Chaves in Northern Rhône continue to make wines like their ancestors. The Mon Coeur (my heart) is a spicy blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre.” —Fernando Beteta

Wine: Domaine Jean Louis Chave Cotes du Rhone Mon Coeur 2016
Grape(s): Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre
Region: Rhône, France
Price: $19

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