Editor's Note: Spoilers below!
"The world is full of wine" - Tyrion Lannister
Poor Tyrion. To have his love for wine turn and spoil into sour blackmail, blackmail that in a place like Westeros carries a heavy price at about 10 pounds, or the weight of his severed head. With an imminent trial at the hands of his unimpressed father and cruel sister, he unfortunately isn't enjoying the so-called Purple Wedding as much as us viewers — or the vast majority of Westeros and beyond for that matter — are. Granted, it's been an entire week since he spilled blood and foam (or what looked like foam) from his eyes, but with a relatively slow episode this week, the excitement still flows.
And in our enjoyment, we are once again encouraged to appreciate how much these folk love their wine! Almost as much as we do!
Westeros and foreigns lands such as Essos have a tremendously healthy obsession with wine, each region producing different varietals. And these obsessions are tended to with a caring winemakers touch by none other than author George RR Martin. Food in general is important for the HBO series. There's even a cookbook titled A Feast of Ice and Fire.
That being said, this is about wine. And in Martin's world, there is a lot of wine. The main continent of Westeros has several: Arbor gold, sweet reds from the Reach, sour reds and strongwine frrom Dornes, and sweet plum wine. And there is more outside the borders: pale Pentoshi ambers, green nectar of Myr, Smokeberry browns, Andalish sours, Myrish firewine, Ghiscari wine, Volantene wine, dreamwine from Qart, apricot wine in Meereen, a golden vintage from the Jade Sea, Selhorys pale green wine, Wine of Courage drunk by the Unsullied, a red and white from Lys, Persimmon wine popular in Slaver's Bay.
But what does it all taste like? Well, according to the scribe himself, it would taste to us modern people like dessert wine — very, very sweet dessert wine. In an interview with The Denver Post, he explained: "Dornish red and wines from The Arbor. I may have actually gotten the wines wrong. You have fans who are very, very knowledgeable. There’s millions of people reading the book. They have great knowledge in many fields and any mistake you make someone will catch you ... The interesting thing about wines, the ancient wines if you go back to the Romans — they talk about Falerninas, Chians, these were great wines. If we had them today we would consider them dessert wines. They were extremely sweet wines and that’s what the Romans liked about them. In a medieval society or an ancient society, sweet things were very rare, we’re so used to sweet things because we have sugar everywhere, and high-fructose corn syrup gets stuck in our food whether we want it there or not ... A wine expert today would sneer at those wines. They would say 'pour that over ice cream or have it for dessert.' This whole thing of dry wines being something you would want is only recent."
Ridculed or not, beloved and hated characters alike, especially Tyrion, sure make it look downright delicious! But this explanation by Martin is only the beginning or our amusement with the wines of Westeros. Recently, Vinepair put together a great map in the way of visualizing previously "undiscovered" varietals. And a couple years ago, in an likeminded effort to perhaps modernize GOT, Justin Hammock and the clever oeno-maniacs over at the ever-informative Wine Folly took on an entertaining exploration of wines in Westeros. What made both interesting were that they were not an exploration in the way that Martin wrote it, but instead an exploration on how the climates match up with our real-world regions.
And while all of this is great, none of these mere musings stand up next to the real-life Castello Di Amorosa, California native Dario Sattui's full-scale medieval castle in Napa Valley. Talk about a vacation home; it transports you to an entirely different realm.
In the end, whatever team your on, whoever's flag your flying, we know that in GOT, it's safe to assume you're drinking some sort of wine.