Feasting and drinking make such a nice backdrop for death and manipulation, don’t you agree? George R.R. Martin certainly thinks so, as evidenced by his A Song of Ice and Fire series. Have you ever been reading a page of his books and wanted to step through the page to help yourself to a turkey leg and glass of wine? I can’t be alone in this. Martin has invented so many amazing details for his world, right down to the wine. But if you want to create a Westerosi wine experience at home, what do you pick up?
Allow me to offer some suggestions that Tyrion might give. Many of the wines he describes have similarities to wines that are accessible in our world, and might even have been G.R.R.M.’s inspiration. We may not be able to sample the same wines that Tyrion loves so much, but we can come damn close. I think he’d appreciate us trying! Whether you’re hosting a viewing party or it’s just another Tuesday, you should find a bottle or two that will work for you below.
Throughout A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin loves to refer to sharing meat and mead. You’ve probably heard of mead many times. It’s a wine made from honey, sometimes called honey wine and was referred to as the drink of the gods. It’s not very popular anymore and definitely isn’t for everyone, but you can actually get mead at wine shops still today. This one pictured is from Winehaven, a vineyard local to me, but their mead is available all over th U.S. Mead is typically pretty inexpensive, so even if you don’t end up a fan of its uniquely sweet flavor, I’d say it’s worth a try.
The Arbor is the area in Westeros most well-known for its wines. There are many varieties, but the crown jewel is Arbor gold. In our world, Sauternes is a French wine with a rich, golden color that immediately lends itself to the name of its fictional counterpart. But that’s not its only similarity. Like Arbor gold, it is rich, sweet, fruity and expensive. This wine is good for a special occasion when you feel like splurging.
Dornish Sour Reds
Dornish sours are supposed to be an opposite to Arbor gold as far as sweetness goes, but still very delicious. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything we can really compare to a sour red wine in our world. There are red wines that are more tart or acidic, which could possibly stand in for a sour red. Though they may not taste sour, they will reflect that quality. But if you’re willing to step outside the box a bit, I also have a truly sour option that might be just the thing. Lambic! Technically, it’s actually a sour Belgian beer, but made with fruit (in this case raspberry or cherry) and fermented spontaneously, just like wine. It has a slightly winey and cidery taste to it that makes me think it fits the bill quite well!
Dorne also produces strongwine, which is high in alcohol content and often described as being dark and purple. A fortified wine such as port is perfect. Ruby port is typically younger, cheaper and more vivid in color than some of the other available options, such as a tawny port. It is also generally sweet, sometimes considered a dessert wine. This is perfect if you’re sitting down to watch this week’s episode on a Sunday night and just want to sip on one small glass.
Sweet Reds of the Arbor
Though the Arbor is known for its sweet white (Arbor gold), the region does produce reds as well. Pinot noir is an incredibly popular and versatile wine choice. There’s even a spectacular song on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt by that name (though it’s not necessarily about wine). If you live in the U.S., especially, you can find a great selection that’s reasonably priced from California. It’s typically described as juicy and often fruity. Unlike bolder reds, pinot noir from California is usually less opaque and brighter tasting. It’ll be just right to serve as your Arbor sweet red. Pair it with something with a little bit of spice to it so as to compliment your wine’s sweeter side. This would be a great choice for opening a bottle to accompany your binge session.
Dry Reds of the Arbor
Not only does the Arbor produce sweet wines, but they have good dry reds available as well. One of the most well-known Italian wines, Chianti is a perfect choice for a dry red. So if you think the dry reds of the Arbor are more your speed, or you’re enjoying a meal that needs something bold, try a glass or two of Chianti!
Do you like wine? Which varieties are your favorite?