The end is nigh. Whatever happens at Monday’s finale, whether you’ve loved or hated the final series, make sure you drown your sorrows like a true lord of the Seven Kingdoms!
George RR Martin has created such a richly detailed world that super fans have worked out what the ‘real world’ equivalent wines might be, based on the tasting notes and the way the regions are referred to, throughout the books and TV show. God bless, fandoms.
Here’s a brief summary, and my take on the matter including which wine to buy from Waitrose (Wester-ose?) if you want to drink like a mad queen.
“The finest Arbor Gold”.
“Cersei beckoned to her page for another cup of wine, a golden vintage from the Arbor, fruity and rich”.
Some have suggested this 'fine Arbor gold' may be Sauternes, but I feel like Cersei would definitely be drinking ‘cougar juice’, otherwise known as rich, oaky California Chardonnay.
In other places it’s referred to as "good Arbor gold”; “fruity and rich".
The arbor is said to be an island off the Southwestern coast of Westeros and to have a warm and pleasant climate. It’s widely accepted in Westeros that “The Arbor makes the best wine in the world” - something to which the more coastally-influenced California regions can certainly lay claim!
Make like Cersei with a rich, buttery California Chardonnay like this one from Waitrose - Chateau Souverian Chardonnay
“A dry red from the Arbor, nectar of the gods”
We don’t know whether Sansa is drinking red or white in this passage from her time at House Baelish, but her description would certainly match either a rich, tropical fruit California Chardonnay, or an oaky, fruity Californian Cabernet Sauvignon:
“The wine was very fine; an Arbor vintage, she thought. It tasted of oak and fruit and hot summer nights, the flavors blossoming in her mouth like flowers opening to the sun".
At Joffrey’s wedding, his goblet is filled with “dark Arbor red”, and mostly when we see characters drinking wine, it always seems to be red.
Make like Tyrion, the “god of tits and wine", with this appropriately named Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Sweet Reds from The Reach
We also hear of “sweet reds from the Reach”, from the fertile plains inland from the Arbor - from where most of Westeros’ grain and fruit is produced. An analog perhaps for the Central Valley region of California, where low acidity, soft blended red wine made from Ruby Cabernet is churned out in the millions of litres.
Keep it real and peasant-like with a quaffable Barefoot Californian Merlot
Dornish Sour Reds
In contrast to this we have the ‘Dornish Sour reds’.
[Orton Merryweather]: We have Dornish red and Arbor gold, and a fine sweet hippocras from Highgarden.
[Jaime Lannister]: The gold, I think. I find Dornish wines as sour as the Dornish.
Dorne, the most southern region of Westeros is talked of as an arid, mountainous region, its history is a touch reminiscent of southern Spain - where Moorish influence came into Spain from North Africa across our own ‘narrow sea’ (the Med?). “Twelve thousand years ago the First Men crossed the land bridge from Essos to here”. There are references to citrus, olives, pomegranates, adding to the southern Mediterranean feeling. Their wines are well respected - an acquired taste for those who like spicy, sour (high acidity) red wine.
So perhaps a Chianti - high acidity and slightly more austere than the sweet, soft reds of the Arbor.
Is it Dornish wine you’re drinking?”
“From the Arbor.”
Oberyn made a face. “Red water.”
I think I may drink some of Lord Redwyne’s grape juice after all.”
“As you like.” Tyrion served him a cup.
The man took a sip, sloshed it about in his mouth, and swallowed. “It will serve, for the moment. I will send you up some strong Dornish wine on the morrow.”
This sounds to me like exactly the type of interaction you might have between someone who is used to dry, structured reds, like a noble Chanti, faced with a Californian ‘fruit bomb’, that they might well criticise a slacking structure, as Oberyn does, as being like “red water’ or ‘grape juice’.
Make like Oberyn with a fine Chianti Riserva from Tuscany.
"Fine Sweet Hippocras from High Garden"
Hippocras is a real historical thing by the way and very popular in Medieval times. Without modern winemaking techniques, wine would very often go off, and so red or white wines would be flavoured with honey, cinnamon, sugar, ginger or pepper - and probably all sorts of other things too. Hippocras comes from ‘Hippocrates’ sleeve’ a reference to the muslin bag through which the infused wine was strained. “Punch” which the Victorians loved so much and Vermouth, can both trace their roots back to this practice, and presumably, mulled wine.
The sweet ‘strongwine from Dorne", has serious Port vibes - “the taste of it is languorous and heady on the tongue, the color purple so dark it looks almost black in the dim-lit cellar."
Knock yourself out and pretend it's not over with a deep and powerful Vintage Port, like this Quinta do Noval 'On the QT' Bin 8: Vintage Port