If you’ve ever spent an evening (or a weekend, no judgement) binge watching Game of Thrones then you’ve definitely seen a sizable amount of wine consumed by the show’s characters. As avid fans of both Thrones and wine, we often pair our episodes with a nice chalice of vino. We watch the characters throw back glass after glass (looking at you, Lannisters), and often wonder what wine is making their cups overfloweth.
The show implies that the best wines are Dornish, but we can’t exactly find a good vintage from Dorne at our local wine bar. So we’ve done a little exploration of our own to answer a question never before answered: If my favorite Game of Thrones character was a wine, what would they be?
** Before you read on, BEWARE OF SPOILERS. We will not censor our analogies just because you haven’t seen the latest episode. Get with it, winos. **
Also, though there are plenty of amazing characters no longer with us (RIP Ned, obvi a Malbec. Still not over you.), this list will only include characters who are still alive and well on the show. What is dead may never wine.
Jon Snow: Eiswein
A song of Eiswein and fire. Ice wine, or Eiswein in German, is an obvious match for Jon Snow. Eiswein is a popular German dessert wine, that’s fermentation process takes it through a journey much like that of Game of Thrones’ most notorious bastard. Jon Snow currently holds the title of King of the North, asserting his power over other men and women in the region. Similarly, Eiswein is one of the most popular dessert wines in Northern Europe.
Jon Snow has had a rocky life. In addition to traveling north where winter is always present, he’s also had to live with an immense amount of judgement and pressure. Even though he is obviously the most skilled soldier at the Wall, everyone still picks on him for being Ned Stark’s illegitimate child. Though people continuously force him to prove his integrity and legitimacy as King of the North, Snow still undeniably has the best heart on Thrones. Likewise, the grapes that make Eiswein are left to freeze on the vine before being picked, prodded and pressed to make wine. Despite the hardships the grapes go through, surviving sub-zero temps and harsh weather, they still end up producing a very sweet, sugary wine that dominates your tastebuds.
Cersei Lannister: Nebbiolo
At first she was Queen and then Queen Regent. Now the Lannister everyone loves to hate is Queen yet again. Cersei has stopped at nothing to ensure her seat on the Iron Throne. She is a dominant force in the room, much like a Nebbiolo on your palate. Her words can strike your ego with the same force that a tannic Nebbiolo strips your tongue. The high acidity and alcohol in a Nebbiolo will make you step back and wonder if you may have underestimated the true depth and power behind it.
Oftentimes, a villain is characterized less by the qualities they possess and more by the characteristics of their victims. Cersei’s life, as she knows it, is built up on the legacies of the families that she has damaged. The tasting notes in a Nebbiolo are very representative of the people that Cersei has destroyed.
At first sip, a Nebbiolo has flavors of past dynasties Cersei has sabotaged: roses from the Tyrells, pine and cedar from the Starks, ripe red fruits from the Martells. When you let a Nebbiolo sit on your palate, though, you’ll start to taste the qualities of people she intends to eliminate in the future. You can taste the impending threat of Jon Snow on the palate as leather and white pepper. And finally, Cersei’s overarching goal to snuff out Daenerys Targaryen matches the tastes of dragon fruit and smoke that lingers on your tastebuds.
Tyrion Lannister: Blanc de Noirs Champagne
Everyone’s favorite imp would definitely be everyone’s favorite sparkling wine. Sure, Tyrion drinks a lot of red wines on the show, but when looking at his personality traits, he’s absolutely a Blanc de Noirs. Blanc de Noirs is a style of champagne made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. The literal translation of Blanc de Noirs is “white from the blacks,” because the wine is sparkling and translucent, but it’s made from dark-skinned grapes. This idea of light emerging from the darkness speaks to the fact that Tyrion is the only decent human to come from the Lannister bloodline.
Additionally, Champagne is one of the most expensive sparkling wines. We all know that Tyrion isn’t one to hesitate when throwing money around to bribe his enemies (or sometimes his friends). Champagne has very little body (Sorry, Tyrion. Low blow?) and is bone-dry, just like Tyrion’s sense of humor.
Sansa Stark: Rosé
There are few wines as strong as they are sweet that can truly encompass the personality of our Little Dove. However, Rosé is versatile enough to represent Sansa’s complex maturation throughout Game of Thrones. Depending on where it’s planted and what situations it’s put under, rosé can manifest a variety of characteristics. Sometimes it is sweet, with welcoming notes of ripe cherries, cranberries and raspberries. Other times Rosé is dry and acidic, emitting flavors that strike the tongue as more earthy and organic than expected. Sansa’s personality and confidence alters significantly throughout all seven seasons. Occasionally she is sweet and easy to please. Other times, she is tough, strong and ready to fight for what she believes. You never really know what side of Sansa you are going to see, and the reveal is as surprising as the first sip of rosé on your lips.
Rosé is also a wine with immense perseverance. Rosé can thrive and survive in many places around the world. A strong rosé can be created no matter the location. Rosés thrive throughout France, Italy, Spain or the States. Sansa traveled from the North to King’s Landing, flew flawlessly under the radar while living in the Vale, and then made it back to the North once again. No matter the region, Sansa thrived! Her underlying sweetness never faltered, and she still has a heart of gold.
Petyr Baelish: Chenin Blanc
Arguably the sneakiest and most strategic player in Game of Thrones, Petyr Baelish would absolutely be a Chenin Blanc. Little Finger is not strong in body or combat skills, he is simply cunning and calculated enough to gain anyone’s trust. A Chenin Blanc maintains low body, but has mid-range dryness/sweetness, alcohol and fruit notes.
Many people can taste a Chenin Blanc and read it differently, just like no Westerosi really knows how to read the intentions of Lord Baelish. Sometimes a Chenin Blanc can be trusted to be sweet and comforting, with flavors of pear, honey and chamomile. But Chenin Blanc is also overwhelmingly acidic. If you aren’t expecting it, what once was sweet can turn overwhelmingly harsh, and you’ll find your tastebuds flailing (sorry, Aunt Lysa!). Finally, anyone who watches Thrones knows that Petyr Baelish is a damaged human. He was in love with a woman who hardly considered him, and now he strives to woo her daughter with little success. His manipulative personality is clearly due to a very bruised ego. When sipping a Chenin Blanc you’ll sense his sadness and trauma through notes of bruised apple.
Arya Stark: Sangiovese
Just like Arya Stark is number one in the hearts of many, Sangiovese is the number one wine in Italy. You may not see “Sangiovese” on many wine labels, but you have probably had the wine before. That’s because Sangiovese normally goes by different names depending on the region in which it is grown. Sangiovese grapes are put in wines known by many names: Chianti, Carmignano, Montecucco, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano and Rosso di Montalcino. In reality, a Sangiovese has no name. Much like a girl has no name.
The people of Westeros highly underestimate Arya’s abilities. She escaped the overbearing and dangerous grip of the throne in season 1, and the royalty hasn’t made a huge deal about finding her since. This is probably because, like Sangiovese, Arya has medium to low body. She doesn’t appear to be very big or strong, so many assume she isn’t a threat. But, similar to Sangiovese’s high tannins and acidity, Arya has the skills to pack a punch. She’s a wonderful swordswoman and incredibly cunning. Her successful acts of revenge come to life in the fruity and oaky notes of Sangiovese. Arya’s slaying of Lannister men alongside the Inn are fiercely represented by flavors of campfire, clay, and leather. And Sangiovese’s black cherry, blackberry and cinnamon flavors bear striking similarities to Arya’s Frey vengeance pies.
Daenerys Targaryen: Sémillon
Daenerys Stormborm: first of her name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. This silver-haired girl boss has many titles and many characteristics. There is no wine more fit for the Khaleesi than a Sémillon. Sémillon is a full bodied white wine with light color and concentration, much like Dany’s hair and complexion.
Sémillon has a unique array of flavors, all of which can be seen as representative of steps in Dany’s story. Herbal notes of chamomile and straw from her time embracing Dothraki culture and becoming Khaleesi of the Grass Sea. There are the warm nutty flavors of vanilla, créme brûlée and macadamia nuts that ingrained on her personality after emerging from the flames unburnt. Then there are the undeniably fruity and refreshing flavors that liberate your tastebuds just like she freed Slaver’s Bay. And of course there’s the salty, organic tinge on your tongue which is like the underlying strength Daenerys maintains being the Mother of Dragons. A wine as glorious as Sémillon is only fit to be compared to a Queen of Daenerys’ complexity!
So there you have it, my Westerosi winos. With the aforementioned information you are now well-versed in Thrones tasting. With this information you can:
- Choose your next episode’s wine pairing based on who you want to see on the Iron Throne.
- Drink Sémillon and dress your cat like a dragon.
- Cut Nebbiolo out of your wine-diet forever because Cersei Lannister is the freaking worst. (We don’t recommend this because Nebbiolo is actually amazing.)
The choice is yours.
And now, my wine has ended.