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Popular shows are spawning beer and wine lines

America’s love affair with TV shows has been turned into a franchise of wines and beers based on fan-favorite characters.

“Game of Thrones” (HBO), “Outlander” (Starz), “The Walking Dead” (AMC) and “MasterChef” (Fox) all boast their own line of spirits, boosting the visibility of both the networks and the breweries producing the wines and beers.

“Usually HBO will identify a character or a setting in the show that they want the beer to tie into,” says Phil Leinhart, head brewer at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, which produces the “Game of Thrones” line of beer. “Then we take those cues to help create a beer,” he says. “I’ve never really formulated a beer that way to a person in a show or a setting— but it’s an interesting way to get very creative.”

“Queen of the Seven Kingdoms,” the Ommegang beer based on “GoT” baddie Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), for example, is described as “a mixture of Belgian-style sour ale and blonde ale.”

Jeff Peters, HBO’s VP of licensing and retail, says that beer made sense for “Game of Thrones,” since its characters drink on-screen and many of its fans are beer lovers. “The goal was to find a new way to talk about ‘Game of Thrones,’ ” he says. “The characters drink ale and drink wine and other things. So it made sense, and it was a way to amplify the brand and feature it with a subset of people — craft beer drinkers — to get some excitement about ‘Game of Thrones.’

“This was back early in the show when we were still building an audience.”

Fox’s “MasterChef” culinary competition show, hosted by Gordon Ramsay, was looking for a way to speak directly to its audience, says Tamaya Petteway, senior VP of brand and licensing partnerships at “MasterChef” producer Endemol Shine America.

“We’re always looking for new opportunities to license the ‘MasterChef’ brand in a way that really resonates with our fan base,” she says. “We know that [our fans] are very passionate about cooking; [a wine line] felt like a natural fit.”

Maybe, but how does that explain wines based on a zombie apocalypse (“The Walking Dead”) or a time-traveling romance (“Outlander”)?

“There are a couple of factor [to deciding which shows we work with],” says Meredith McManus, director of marketing at Lot18, a fine wine online retailer that works with “Outlander,” “MasterChef” and “The Walking Dead.” “There needs to be a wide audience and fan base,” she says. “There are a lot of partnerships that have interesting potential for artwork or wine, but if it’s a smaller niche property, the cost is prohibitive for doing a partnership.

“We also want to make sure the demographics fit, so we’d never do a childrens’ show, or a property where a big part of the storyline is that nobody drinks,” she says. “We actually were approached by a property I won’t name, and we weren’t comfortable doing a wine [for them because] the fan base was under 21. [And finally], is wine a good fit? Does it make sense for the series? We had huge success with [‘Outlander’]. The fans loved it, we sold out very quickly, it felt like a very natural tie-in.”

Ommegang’s link to a hit TV show, meanwhile, has raised its profile on a national level. “We’re a small brewery in the hills of upstate New York,” says Ommegang president Doug Campbell. “To reach audiences in California, Wyoming, and Texas would not be easy for us.

“This partnership [with the show] opens those doors in ways that few other things could.”

How they rate

“Outlander” wine Mo Nighean Donn California Pinot Noir: “I’m not a big red wine drinker, but I would absolutely cozy up with a glass or two of this on a chilly fall evening. It’s very earthy and warm, and my favorite red of the collection.” — Bookbub

“Game of Thrones” beer Queen of the Seven Kingdoms: “Pretty good mild Belgian pale. It’s blended with a sour but the sourness is pretty light in the flavor. You smell it a lot more than you taste it. Goes down smooth. Worth trying while this series lasts.” ­— Beer Advocate

The Walking Dead” Cabernet Sauvignon: “I am shocked it was this good! Really impressed by the fruit forward-cab smelling nose. Tannins are easy as all hell. Silky smooth with great length. Worthy of a copyright!” ­— Vivino.com


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