Bridgerton, Beverage by Beverage

How I love this show. The clothes! The patisserie! The sex! And oh…oh, how the Taylor Swift instrumentals! Set in 1813 London, aka Regency era times, there is a smashing amount of drinking in this series. Also a smashing amount of smashing. Gird your loins. I now present you episode-specific pairings based on what characters were drinking, when, and why. I’m not doing full episode recaps but provide context for the pairing so there may be spoilers, but at this point if you are like me and you are on your fourth time watching, spoilers aren’t even a thing. In general, if you are worried about pairings without spoilers, my Regency research has led me to recommend tea by the gallon, Claret (aka Bordeaux ), and brandy (from Cognac to Brandy de Jerez , do it!). But my research led me down some fun Regency rabbit holes, so I hope you read through. And what of a Bridgerton shower wine? Skip to the end if you are in a hurry. EPISODE ONE Everyone is getting ready for the premier courting season event, where Queen Charlotte passes judgment on all the ladies. Fortunately for this season’s heroine, Daphne Bridgerton, the queen judges her as “Flawless my dear”. The rivals, the Featherington ladies fare less well, especially when their becoming cousin Marina shows up. But what of the suitors? Pairing 1: ARMAGNAC IN A FLASK, PAIRED WITH BEING A RAKE The Duke of Hastings (Simon) gallops up to the ‘ton’ for his not-his-mom-but-almost Lady Danbury’s ‘opening ball’. A malcontented swig from a flask, and a dashing dismount from his steed, and you know he is not into this whole courting season thing. What was in the flask? My research shows that brandy was one of the many Regency treats of choice. I decided to go with Armagnac, as it is a little less high falutin’ than Cognac, and Simon is just a smidge bit of a rebel. Delord Napoleon Bas-Armagnac Armagnac Caramel, flowers, golden raisins, bitter orange, vanilla bean, marzipan and a hint of something tropical—almost banana but a banana wearing flowers in its hair. Perhaps too refined for a flask. It is quite silky without having airs—which is to say it has a smidge of a screw-you-too-lol burn at the end. It is potent and agreeable to sip slowly. But won’t knock you over if you want a slug from a flask because you are a rake. A rake with finesse. Pairing 2: LEMONADE PLUS AVOIDING PEOPLE So then there is a ball and when you (if you answer to the name Daphne) are having unsuitable suitors foisted upon you and “I’m quite parched” is a reasonable escape line. And sticking to lemonade (instead of alcohol) will keep you on your toes. Pairing 3: MALMSEY , PLUS BRO TALK BUT ONLY SORTA BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT LOVE How long will you be single? How long will you f*ck that singer? These are the questions posed as pseudo-fighting words, all while imbibing (among other things) something brown. My guess is that dark brown substance may be Madeira . Because these men are being macho, yet macho about their hearts. So they need a stiff drink, but a sweet one. Blandy’s 10 Year Madeira Rich Malmsey Unctuous, but! It is like there are daisies dancing under the covers. And spring onions. I know that doesn’t make sense but think of the cut. It is a shift of savory skiing through molasses laced with caramel. Dried figs, dried apricot, really a whole treasure trove of caramel-laced dried fruits and glazed nuts. Garnished with gold and burnished with candlelight. Pairing 4: FANCY BORDEAUX PLUS MATCHMAKING What was in the glasses at a dinner dreamed up to connect Daphne and Simon? A dinner concluding with gooseberry pie? Well, the ‘New French Claret’, aka Bordeaux wine, was a big seller in England at that time due to…well a lot of historical events fiscal and more. For a dinner like that I’m assuming they are serving the good stuff. I’ve still yet to taste a 1st growth Bordeaux, but if you have a nice Cabernet on hand, that should do. EPISODE TWO It all starts with a promenade. I applaud Daphne telling Simon up front that she wants 8 balls. And flowers. Watching Daphne, I’ve learned I need to stand up for what I need (maybe not 8 balls, 2 will do. And roses will suffice). Meanwhile at the Featheringtons…there is the pregnant cousin and confusion. Pairing 5: CAKE PLUS SEX ED Poor Penelope does not know how women come to be with child, and a conversation with the unwed pregnant cousin leads to cousins' tête à tête over a plate of cake. And we learn of cake equaling love so…I don’t know if you are having confusion about your sex life, but I’m gonna say you can find love in cake. Pairing 6: RATAFIA AND WISDOM Lady Danbury’s request for a glass of ratafia was what inspired me to go down a Regency drink journey. Dr. Google plus myriad books informed me there are two (if not 7) types of ratafia. The only one I have experienced is Ratafia Champenois, which is a ‘mistelle’, also known as ‘vin de liqueur’ aka grape juice (often from raisinated grapes) fortified with spirit before fermentation even begins. Relaying this to a wine/history buff friend, he responded “Guess what, I just happen to be reading a book about Georgian era (like RIGHT before Regency) sex workers and there is a ratafia reference”. He sent me the passage and after reading that account, I believe what Lady Danbury requested was probably an almond and cherry pit infused liqueur, not a mistelle. That ratafia got sex workers in Georgian era England reallllly messed up due to the beverage’s ingredients producing hydrogen cyanide. So I cannot recommend. I CAN recommend Ratafia de Champagne (another sweet treat!) however. Dumangin Ratafia Champenois Smells like grape jelly richness and tastes like it too but like, so much better. If jam, caramel, and pistachio butter had a love child (don’t ask me how all three accomplish it) that would be this. There is honeycomb, there is fruitcake, but the trifecta I first referenced were the defining characteristics. Oh yes and this IS sweet. Love it please. Moving right along. Pairing 7: TEA PLUS SNUFF, A FLUFFY PUP, AND SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT Pick your favorite tea. If you are the Queen, you’d demand nothing less. Have it with something to sniff (apparently Charlotte did indeed have quite the snuff habit) pair with a small fluffy puppy and the security that your are QUEEN. YAS. Oh, and sport a wig if you are feeling it. Ps not really recommending sniffing stuff. Pairing 8: CHAMPAGNE TOWERS AND WALTZING The last ball of the episode includes a Champagne tower that no one seems to get a glass from, as they are busy doing a dance around it. So let’s talk Regency bubbly. Champagne riddling and disgorgement (the procedure of working the dead yeast cells to the neck of the bottle and popping them out — sexxxxxy) was about to be figured out ( Veuve Cliquot cites the invention as occurring in 1816) Jean-Antoine Chaptal was getting a grip on how and why the amount of sugar added to create the bubbles worked. However, much as we love our dry wines these days, everything I am seeing suggests those bubbles would not be dry. So I should be telling you to drink sweet Champagne, but much as this series has mod touches like aforementioned Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish instrumentals, so I’m gonna go ultramodern and tell you to build your tower with: Sanger Brut Nature Pronounced Sans-guerre! Says their website. It is basically equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Quite golden. The finest of delicate mousse. Being a brut nature it is in fact bone dry but! It also tastes of honey and flowers and baked peach and raw lemon all dolloped artfully on a piece of baguette. A gem and a steal. EPISODE THREE So anyway another ball. This one has parrots. And for the elite of the society there is much boring small talk and even a Prince in town to attempt to spice things up. Meanwhile across town… Pairing 9: CHEAPER CLARET AND GIRL TALK Meanwhile, the ton dressmaker, ‘the modiste’, and the lovely opera singer Siena (who is having quite the passionate affair with the elder Bridgerton bro) share a big ol’ bottle of red. I couldn’t catch what the bottle said—I was distracted by their most extraordinarily boosted bosoms. What empire dresses allow in turns of room for stomachs, they make up for in smushing boobs. Anyway, for this sort of girlfriend catch up feel free to get an inexpensive Claret (yes more Claret) and you gotta go Merlot. 2018 Chateau Durand-Laplagne Les Terres Rouges Puisseguin-St. Emilion Soooo purple-y as Merlot sometimes wants to be. But with warmth of spices cooking on the stove, and all cozied into a vanilla bean comforter. Love this wine. It is easy but also lets you think. It is a wine for whenever. Have it for getting-messed-up-girl-nights or have it for a slow meditation. I love Right Bank Bordeaux. Pairing 10: ICE COLD MILK AND SIBLING BONDING AT MIDNIGHT Then omg post-ball, a sister-brother late night confessional occurs over warm milk. Except they share it cold seeing as they have no clue how to heat it. Champagne problems. EPISODE FOUR Trigger warning: beautiful necklaces and hysterics abound. Everyone is desperate for something: a love match for themselves? A love match for their heir? And in the case of one of the Bridgerton sons…art and day drinking? We all need something. So more balls duh. Pairing 11: TRUE LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT AND CHEESE One of the Featherington sisters (Philippa) shares a love of cheese with a fella (named Finch), and I swear it is the truest match of the whole series. The way Mr. Finch looks at her when she says she prefers a Stilton to a cheddar…well. My oh my. A METAPHOR FOR LIFE, NO? But forget cheese because mama Bridgerton is getting trashed on (probably demi-sec) Champagne and Daphne and Simon get caught by her brother making out leading to… Pairing 12: YET MORE BRANDY AND DUEL PREP “For brandy this good you need to tell me what is actually going on”? GREAT QUOTE from Simon’s boxing bud as Simon preps to duel with the elder Bridgerton who is likewise downing something in a cut glass of his own. Let us assume it is his finest. How about some Spanish Brandy? I LOVE Brandy de Jerez. Particularly if it is a Gran Reserva. These are aged like Sherry, in used Sherry barrels, in a complicated solera system I won’t bore you with the details of right now. Anyway they are awesome and if you are gonna go duel… have a good treat first, yah? Cardenal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva Brandy Vanilla and toffee and like…what are those candies? Werthers? This is Werthers plus a slug of Bourbon. Richness, spice…coffee-infused syrup…and more vanilla. And toasted walnuts. It is a lot and it need make no apology for that. EPISODE FIVE Pairing 13: HANGOVER CURES PLUS LAST MINUTE WEDDING PREP I mean, if you are taking in ALL my suggestions and binge-watching this series you may have a hangover by now, so get over it in sync with the characters too! Mama Bridgerton has a hangover, but perks up when she realizes she has a wedding (for love!) to plan for Daphne. So livened as to not need the drink the curative she’s brought (raw eggs and garlic) or maybe she just realized raw eggs and garlic sound terrible. Meanwhile a few days later Simon gets quite inebriated, and Alice his boxer friend Will’s wife serves him some rather burnt toast—“charcoal and oil” as she puts it, and charcoal is a known thing to take the toxins out! So if you have a hangover and a wedding to plan or get to, I’d recommend burnt toast over raw eggs and garlic unless you are keto then you should probably stick with the eggs. Does carbon have carbs? Who cares? EPISODE SIX OMG this is the episode…I know I said gird your loins before but like…you might need backup girding for this episode. Batten down the hatches? At least have a firm mattress. Pairing 14: WHATEVER MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD WITH GARDEN PARTIES AND SEX MONTAGES This is the sex episode—after taking off elbow length gloves enjoy: the rain sex (the duke is good with his hands) regular bedroom sex (still looks fun) the picnic sex (into it) the library sex (the duke can put tongue action on the resume too) the desk sex aka the sex where Daphne figures out that maybe Simon’s climax has something to do with where babies come from I cannot go on. Drink what you like. Enjoy. EPISODE SEVEN There is strife in the Hastings household. Pairing 15: ARMAGNAC BUT IN APROPER GLASS CAUSE YOU ARE MARRIED PLUS GUNPOWDER AND PIANO FORTE Simon is drinking something dark but from a cool cut crystal (I assume he’s fancy now) glass and shooting (and missing) pigeons. Daphne is playing rage-y classical pianoforte. And there is a lot of glaring betwixt the two. I actually don’t recommend this pairing unless you really wanna feel the pain of marital problems. But if you are feeling it, have the Armagnac I recommended but use a fancy glass, not a flask. But then! Daphne and Duke need to return to the ‘ton’ as there is a family scandal surrounding the Bridgerton bro Colin and his engagement to the pregnant-by-another-man Marina that has come to light. The men angstily lean on one arm—against fireplaces, against couches, it is all about the angsty lean on one arm in this episode. Fortunately there is a luncheon. Which leads to a ladies-only funtime at Lady Danbury’s where the women play cards and eschew husband attachment. Lady Danbury (our ratafia lover) has these ‘dens of inequity’ for the married ladies to let loose and have fun. So basically the ladies are drinking EVERYTHING (as it should be), and enjoying their time together (also as it must be) which the next morning leads to… Pairing 16: MORNING AFTER PARTY BREAKFAST BRANDY, PLUS FREEDOM Lady Danbury surveys the messy card room SHE shall not be cleaning, and a celebratory morning swig of someone else’s brandy does well for her. She has the power. It is a pandemic—don’t hold parties, but if you wake up and the drink you poured last night is there unfinished? And you don’t need to drive your own carriage? Go for it. Pairing 17: A LARGE GLASS OF FANCY BEER AND FISTFIGHTS Yah again maybe don’t do this one. Poor Anthony tries to distract himself from his love-struck heart with a beer but even evaluating it as “a fine color..and the bubbles…” , he is still hurting and wants to pick a fight with the Duke. So yeah maybe if you are feeling rage-y don’t do this pairing. Sorry my insights on this episode are a bit gloomy but it is all following the traditional arc of a story. We are at our direst days. The peak of the rising action is here. We hope there is release and denouement. Coming up! EPISODE EIGHT We have reached the final ball. Of at least eight. Probably more I lost count. I don’t want to blow the end of the series for anyone, so take any of the previous recommendations for this episode. Contemplate life, love, and please have a glass of Ratafia Champenois IN THE SHOWER! It is sweet and sensual and the color feels like love. Perfection. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Make Your Own Wine Winter Whites Wine For Kamala Women in Castles Down by the Loire River Whole Wine - Pairing Optional Goth Wines for the Perennially October Soul Back to School More Than Port It’s a Can-demic Ellen in Lalaland Pandemic-Style You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! With Rebecca Rose Phillips Wine Situation Final Five! With Katherine Jarvis


Voyage 360 Brut Nature Champagne Blend

I needed a bubbly to celebrating finishing my WSET Diploma. At last! But until I could share with more people went with a budget friendly option and golly it is an overachiever. Dry as can be but it tastes of baked pear and honey but also fresh raw lemon squeezed over baguette. Quite complex and oh so delicate. A moody ballerina. — 3 years ago

Paul, Serge and 27 others liked this
Jody Scharf

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Congrats. Fantastic 😊
Ellen Clifford

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@Bob McDonald thank you! Yes, it was a lot of work, but I think it’s worth it!
Ellen Clifford

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@Jody Scharf thank you!! 🥂

J. Dumangin Fils

Ratafia de Champagne

Oh those delightful little vin de liqueurs aka mistelles. This is a treat. Smells like grape jam and come to think of it there is a nuttiness that calls to mind a nut butter but more like a pistachio I think. A swirl of raspberry jam comes into play on the palate, weaving its way through bits and bobs of honeycomb. It’s not cloying though. Keeps you coming back for me. Keeps you young and honest. You like sweets, just admit it. Be the kid in the candy store. — 3 years ago

Jason, Bob and 15 others liked this
Severn Goodwin

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Love me some Ratafia...You have to look under a lot of stones to find this in the US. We actually brought a bottle back with us from our visit to Champagne in 2018.
Ellen Clifford

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@Severn Goodwin heh, yeah I look under a lot of Googles to find some!

Cardenal Mendoza

Solera Gran Reserva Brandy

Suppose you dissolved Werthers candies in bourbon then added a dash of coffee and...made it somehow richer without being cloying. It’s the alchemy of fractional blending in solera of used Sherry barrels sweet babies. I love Sherry de Jerez, it is great fun. It goes the distance. — 3 years ago

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Napoléon Bas Armagnac White Blend

Armagnac is great fun—this one feels a bit more graceful than many I’ve had. It is Armagnac you could take to the ball, and it may lose a glass slipper but that’s okay as you’ll both dance your hearts off first. What are you dancing to? Floral flings, golden raisin gavottes, regular raisin reels, and perhaps one just one tropical tango interrupted with marzipan moves. — 3 years ago

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10 Years Old Madeira Malmsey

I love Madeira. I don’t know if it loves me but it is at least on friendly terms with my taste buds. My taste buds like dessert. Even if you think you don’t like sweet wine the acidity on this may turn your head. It is a nuts cutting down molasses mountains carpeted in trees loosing glazed nuts. Malmsey. Definitely my friend. — 3 years ago

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Château Durand-Laplagne

Les Terres Rouges Puisseguin-St. Émilion Red Bordeaux Blend 2018

Goodness the value of a value Merlot based bottle of tastiness. Purpley it is. But it isn’t just purple drapes, there is a pot of hot spiced tea bubbling and someone is puffing a cigar just outside the window. Where are you looking to through this wine window? At your friends. Wearing purple masks but they are there for you. — 3 years ago

Daniel P., Mike and 17 others liked this
MaJ CappS

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That Gogol bórdello song - start wearing purple - comes to mind! 🍷
Ellen Clifford

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@MaJ CappS woaaa I hadn’t thought about that band in a long time💜