It's that time. Well, ardent fans will argue it is well past that time as it has been more than a year since the tumultuous wrap-up of season six of HBO's wildly successful Game of Thrones. Arguably one of the most successful ever adaptations of a novel (or series of novels) to the small screen, Game of Thrones is historical fiction crack for its zillions of fans. Perhaps you, like I, have trouble keeping up with all the double- and triple-crossing, the crazy alliances, the nudity, and most of all the banquets and feasts. Mainly, I get distracted during the feasts wondering what they are drinking with all that cooked meat and raw betrayal.
George R. R. Martin's novels, and thus the televisions series, place three things above all others: gore, sex and food. Gore is very hard to pair with wine, and with sex you can drink almost anything (though Champagne is a guaranteed hit), but what to drink with the scenes of excessive gustatory indulgence? I've pondered what pairs with Khal Drogo’s outdoor horse meat roasts. In the first book, Martin says the horse is roasted with honey and peppers, which would point me to a very fruity zinfandel, though he says it's consumed with fermented mare's milk and "Illyros' fine wine," though we get no clue what those wines might be like. In one early scene Daenerys (the Mother of Dragons) must eat a raw horse heart (and keep it down) in order to assure she will give birth to a healthy son. She ate the heart but the son...well, not quite. Advance word is she will finally touch down in Westeros this season. It's about time for that, too.
I'm equally perplexed with Dothraki blood pies, acorn paste and wild rats, and what sound like difficult to consume casks of fish packed in salt. On the other hand, I can make some good matches with roasted aurochs (a now-extinct type of cattle), rack of lamb with a crust of garlic and herbs, roast goat (I like pinot noir), wild boar (Barbaresco or Brunello please) and many other dishes we read about. And to make things even easier, the forces behind Game of Thrones have now actually come out with their own wine!
Game of Thrones wine - imagine! And about time. There is a chardonnay (it retails in the U.S. for about $22), a red blend ($20) and a high-end cabernet sauvignon ($50). I would think zin, syrah and Barolo would be better matches for most of the food I've encountered in the series, but then again, I still think Champagne goes with everything. And not just the food.
Game of Thrones 2016 Chardonnay - this is a blend of 90% chardonnay that gets some lively acidity and a very nice aromatic lift from the addition of 10% riesling. It's from California's Central Coast AVA and has a nice stone fruit and tropical fruit character and just a kiss of oak. Unlike the TV series and many of California chardonnays, this one is not over the top. I'd have this with roast fowl and honey.
Game of Thrones 2015 Red Blend - according to winemaker Bob Cabral, this melange from California's Paso Robles AVA is, "considered among the finest in the Seven Kingdoms by those who prefer dry, robust reds. And we do like red. Often served at feasts, paired with hearty meats, roasts and blackbird pie, poured at Small Council sessions." I can go along with that - it's a bit of a kitchen sink wine with eight different grape varieties in the mix, including syrah, petite sirah and tempranillo. Nice dark fruit character and soft tannins - easy to drink in the Great Hall but be sure you have a chamber to sleep in - it clocks in at 14.7% abv (so it is likely really around 15%!).
Game of Thrones 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - this is a great wine with a price worthy of a lord of one of the seven kingdoms. Cassis and vanilla pop out on the nose but the oak doesn't get in the way and there is a nice brambly/blackberry quality that keeps it lively. If you have a bag of gold coins at your waist, this may be the wine for you.
Me, I'm grabbing a bottle of Champagne and some popcorn for Sunday's return of Game of Thrones.