Getting Commander Shepherd drunk in every bar in Mass Effect. Using cocktails to manipulate moods in The Red Strings Club. Downing so much beer in Fable that you throw up and earn The Drinking Game achievement. Alcohol has long featured in video games in ways both subtle and over-the-top.
I’m writing this now with a fuzzy head on a Sunday morning, after going to my first wine-tasting event in London with my other-half the previous night. I can’t remember how many varieties we ended up trying but it must have been quite a few – and thankfully we managed to keep a list of those we really enjoyed. Through my alcohol-induced fog, I began thinking which of our chosen bottles would go well with video games so here’s a list of my best pour decisions.
Katie Jones La Gare Old Vine Syrah 2018
A classic big red ripe with dark fruit and notes of wild rosemary and thyme, with a peppery aroma. Barrel aging helps soften the wine and control its wild rustic character. Goes well with a meaty steak and chips.
Pete’s favourite wine of the evening. There’s nothing understated about it: it’s strong and packs a punch of flavour, and a wine like that needs a beefy video game to stand up to it. So how about something like Red Dead Redemption 2? These two ‘wild rustic characters’ could be a match made in heaven.
Stefano di Blasi Montepuliciano DOC 2018
An intense and velvety modern red, full to the brim with bright red fruit and smooth dark chocolate. It’s very easy drinking and will therefore suit many different pallets. Goes well with a rich, gamey stew.
A glass of this would be perfect in front of a roaring fire in the winter, and where better to find a ‘gamey stew’ than one of the traditional inns in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It’s a game that many people love regardless of what their preferred genre is so this easy-drinking tipple could be its perfect pairing.
Simpsons of Servian Sparkling Syrah 2018
A deliciously soft and fruity sparkling red with a fabulous deep opaque colour. Bursting with sweet red fruits, this is one to try if you’re intrigued by something different. Goes well with traditional fare like roasted turkey.
Sparkling wines go with special occasions and there’s nothing more special than this festive time of year – convenient, seeing as this one pairs well with turkey. Pour yourself a glass before digging out your old-school consoles so we can go retro with Home Alone. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.
Ocaso Sparkling Rosé
This modern sparkling rosé may win over some red wine drinkers and convince them to give pink fizz a try. Think fresh cherries and strawberries full of small and brilliant bubbles. Goes well with grilled marinated shrimp or fish.
This tipple is a bright and happy one, and there’s just something about its bubbles that make it feel very uplifting. It therefore needs a positive game to go alongside it so a title like Journey could be a lovely choice here. I bet you’d have a great big smile on your face by the end of your play session… hic.
Cecilia Simon Tokaji 2015
Full-bodied and complex, here’s a modern dessert wine with sumptuous aromas of peach and figs. Subtle wooden notes thanks to spending 18-months in some big old barrels. Goes well with a meal of nuts, fig, dates, citrus or pear.
My favourite tasting of the night: I love the sweetness of dessert wine but this one had a slight acidity to it. That meant it was in no way sickly and was somehow refreshing, so a title like Eastshade would be a good match. The colour of the wine even reminds me of the golden sunset glow in game.
Quevedo LBV Port 2013
A late bottled vintage port lovingly aged for six years. Velvety caramel with a massive smack of vanilla and strawberries, and a hint of cherry bakewell tart. Goes well with cheese and roasted almonds after a delicious dinner.
A refined tipple. I’m not a port person but this one made me reconsider: it was incredibly smooth and like dessert in a glass. We felt it would be perfect for after Christmas dinner, sipping it on the sofa while playing cards, so how about a few rounds of solitaire with a game like Shadowhand?
Let’s end this post with a line suggested by Pete in his wine-induced morning haze: wine is fine, especially at game time. I’m now turning off the laptop and going to find the paracetamol.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.