We've got the bug. The whole world has the bug. The Westeros Bug. We've paired Italian wines to five of the formidable houses of Westeros. We're ready for you. "You’re in the great game now. And the great game’s terrifying." -Tyrion Lannister
2015 Gualdo del Re 'Valentina', Toscano ($17)
Unbend, Unbowed, Unbroken, the Martell Family
Like the North, Dorne, the birthplace of Oberyn Martell and the Sand sisters, has its own distinct culture separate from the rest of Westeros. With its bold sun and affinity with the sea, it seemed like the perfect pairing for a Vermentino from Southern Tucany. The woods on premise of this vineyard were nicknamed The King's Retreat and used as such during the Middle Ages; a nice contrast to the patience of a Martell who waited decades in silence to get his bone crushing revenge on Gregor 'The Mountain' Clegane for the murder of his sister, Queen Elia, and her children. Valentina is as passionate and willful as the Martells, with citrusy notes, sexy minerality, and a slight saltiness.
2012 Aglianico di Baal, Campania ($24)
Fire and Blood, the Targaryen Family
It seemed appropriate to choose a wine from the region of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano responsible for spewing 21 miles high and destroying cities, for the family who is known for their kinship with fire. Even now, Pompeii looks as if a trio of dragons attacked it! Even more telling is this vineyard's name, Casa di Baal, 'Baal' is a version of the name Hannibal. Whether you're referring to Hannibal Lector, Hannibal the military commander, or Daenerys Targaryen...these are people you do not want to betray. You would be dead before Daenerys could even say all of her titles. This Aglianico is wild with notes of anise, is as red as blood, and as structured and persistent as The Breaker of Chains!
2015 Sottimano Mate, Piedmont ($20)
Growing Strong, the Tyrell Family
The Starks have their direwolves, the Lannisters their lions, the Targaryens their dragons and the Tyrells have...roses? Known for their good looks and gardens, the Tyrell family would rather prefer to be underestimated (the better to plot your death) as would this Brachetto. Considered a common grape in Piedmont, Brachetto is light, unassuming and known for its strawberry notes, and in this particular bottle's case, a wave of roses. Think of how doe-eyed Magarey Tyrell coaxed Tommen away from Cersei, or the Queen of Thorns, as she plotted her family's loyalty from Renly to Joffrey. The acerbic wit of Olenna Tyrell matches the wit of this Brachetto and the smoothness of the wine is as soft as Loras' hair. Even when faltering, the Tyrells prove that they will grow from the ground and lead their family to prosperity once more.
2015 Marcato 'Duo' Rosso, Veneto ($17)
Hear Me Roar, the Lannister Family
Remember in the pilot when we first saw Jaime and Cersei? They seemed untouchable in their beauty and confident in their status as top dog in Westeros. ‘Duo’ seemed appropriate for the Lannister siblings as they have never been aligned as a trio; Tyrion and Cersei at the least have always plotted against one another. The few times when Tyrion hit Joffrey's smug face is one of the most satisfying moments of the early seasons! This blend of Corvina and Cabernet Franc resembles the red wines that we see the frequently tipsy Cersei and Tyrion drink during the series. They'd drink this wine, with the smooth raspberry and coffee notes in one gulp! Luckily, this wine doesn't suffer from the plight of the Lannisters: a hot mess with tons of Daddy issues.
2016 Alois Lageder Lagrein Rosé, Sudtirol/Alto-Adige ($20)
Winter is Coming, the Stark Family
A rosé for the honorable, politically un-inclined and fair Stark Family, you might ask? Why yes, think of the powerful Northern woman (Wildling and Westeros born alike) who were born 'Kissed By Fire', aka redheaded; Sansa Stark and Ygritte are examples of survivalists who have either proved themselves on the battlefield or when manipulating an inbred King and playing political games to stay alive. Südtirol, the autonomous region located in northeast Italy, is a bit of an oddity. It was granted to Italy in 1918 but retains its Austrian roots with a large percentage of locals speaking German along with its architecture and cuisine, which is distinctly Austrian. This is a fitting region for the wine of the wild North, who within a few years had undergone two self-proclaimed Kings of the North. Along with its dry, acidic body that brings the Alps to mind, this Lagrein has notes of cherry and baking spices. Don't underestimate rosé, the formerly silly and naive Sansa Stark, or the prettily muscled King of the North!