Spoiler alert: If you haven’t caught up with the most recent episode ahead of the “Succession” finale, we can’t help you.
VinePair is a drinks publication, so we don’t need to delve too deep into what makes HBO’s comedy drama “Succession” so compelling. And chances are, anyone reading this is already a fan. But it is worth noting that, much as the show has with fashion, politics, and media, “Succession” serves up regular insider jokes for those who take an interest in booze.
Ahead of the May 28 finale, we dug deep into the archives and set about some serious rewatching to unearth our favorite drinks-related lines and moments. From unfortunate incidents with flavored water to intertwining tales involving flawed wine and former partners, here are the nine most iconic drinking moments in “Succession,” ranked.
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9. Cousin Greg channels his inner Robert Parker on a super yacht.
Season 2 Episode 10 “This Is Not for Fears”
During the finale of Season 2, cousin Greg lounges on an 85-meter super yacht, nonchalantly sipping a flute of pink bubbles. Tom swims over and inquires what his assistant, frenemy, fellow Disgusting Brother, and literal punch bag has in his glass. “This is, I’m not sure, it’s a rosé,” Greg responds. “It’s not my favorite.”
“Oooh you have a favorite Champagne now?” Tom sneers.
“It’s fine, I’ll drink it,” Greg concludes. “It’s just not my favorite.”
How far bumbling Cousin Greg has come.
8. What Greg wants, Greg must have.
Season 3 Episode 4 “Lion in the Meadow”
Logan’s bargaining prowess proves legendary over the course of “Succession,” but the so-called “Old Battle-Toad” barely has to turn it on when coaxing Greg into signing a joint defense agreement.
“Drink!” he tells his great-nephew. “Of alcohol?!” Greg responds quizzically, before quickly coming round to the idea despite the early hour. “Yeah, I think I’ll actually have me a nice glass of, eh, Rum and Coke,” he stutters. Unsurprisingly, the billionaire media mogul’s bar cart is not stocked with Coke, but “what Greg wants, Greg must have,” as Logan says.
“It’s nice and strong,” Greg chokes while sipping his cocktail, failing to conceal a moment of near- vomiting with a badly disguised cough. “Strong one — strong for a man.”
7. Nan Pierce has a peasant’s palate — unless the cocktails are presidential.
Season 2 Episode 4 “Tern Haven” / Season 4 Episode 1 “The Munsters”
Few families have “official” cocktails, let alone recipes retrieved from the wallet of Teddy Roosevelt’s valet. But the Pierce family isn’t most families, as we learn when the Roys pay a visit to their Long Island estate for what will ultimately be a failed takeover bid of Pierce Global Media (PGM). There, we learn of the aforementioned presidential cocktail, the “Break Bumper,” and get to know matriarch Nan Pierce, whose personality is brilliantly captured in a few food-and-drink-centric moments over the course of the show.
During happy hour, Nan implores maid/helper/caterer Rosa to enjoy a drink with the families: “You never treat yourself!”
Rosa awkwardly declines, straining under a tray of rosemary-and-orange-garnished cocktails (presumably Break Bumpers), and with an elaborate meal underway in the kitchen. Nan’s billionaire-of-the-people persona quickly cracks when, family meal now ready, she plants a silver dish on the table to growing applause, failing to mention it’s the only hand she’s had in the preparation.
Fast forward to the first episode of Season 4 at the Pierce family’s California estate, complete with rolling vineyards and a palm-tree-lined driveway. “Uncomfortable” to have found herself in the middle of a $10 billion bidding war, Nan tries to shift the focus to some expensive looking bottles of wine, likely from the family estate.
“They might as well be jars of jam to me, but the connoisseurs seem to like them,” she says, barely attempting to conceal the humble brag. “I fear I have peasant tastes,” she adds, noting a preference for the thin and vinegary hypermarché vin ordinaire she first sampled as a 19-year-old.
6. Tom Wambsgans: minion-wrangler, s*it eater, potential prison winemaker.
Season 3 Episode 4 “Lion in the Meadow”
Tom returns for another iconic moment in Season 3 Episode 4, “Lion in the Meadow,” this time in front of a different foil, wife Shiv. The prospect of doing hard time sees Tom go deep into the “prison blogs” in an attempt to prepare for the worst. Things really come to a head when he realizes that, behind bars, there will be no opportunity to enjoy one of the best moments of his day: coming home from work and enjoying a very cold first glass of wine. Yet wine might not be entirely off the menu if he’s willing to consider prison “toilet” wine.
“Turns out you can make it from fruit and ketchup but you have to ‘burp’ the wine back as it ferments,” he tells Shiv. “And I thought, ‘What if I forget to burp the toilet wine?’”
5. Connor introduces the world to hyper-decanting.
Season 2 Episode 3 “Return”
The one “Succession” drinking moment that actually influenced how some people drink in real life arrives in Season 2 Episode 3, “Return.” In a scene with Connor and Shiv, the eldest Roy sibling offers his sister a glass of wine. She declines but seems confused that Connor’s pouring his Burgundy from a blender rather than a bottle. “You don’t hyper-decant?” he asks, seeming genuinely confused. “You’re just doing regular decanting?” The merits of doing so, Connor soon shares, include softening the tannins and heightening the wine’s aromas. “You can age your wine five years in 10 seconds,” he adds. “Truly.”
Connor’s fondness for Burgundy, meanwhile, makes another appearance during the season’s finale. Facing financial ruin from the failed debut of Willa’s broadway play, he approaches Logan for “a little hundred million” loan, adding that he’s “not super liquid right now.” Turned down, he orders a full bottle of Burgundy for breakfast and drowns his sorrows.
4. Greg uses flavored LaCroix for a medical eye wash
Season 4 Episode 8 “America Decides”
During the thrilling Season 4 episode “America Decides,” the most notable drinking moment — though not involving alcohol — features bodega sushi, flavored water, and none other than Greg the Egg.
Brainstorming how the company is going to call Wisconsin for Mencken, though it’s not a “call call,” ATN pollster Darwin Perry moves aside Greg’s container of sushi on a boardroom table before accidentally rubbing wasabi into his eyes.
The very fate of the nation at stake, Greg fumbles into action, cracking open a can of Lemon LaCroix and pouring it into his Darwin’s eye. “Jesus, f*ck, Greg, what are you doing?!” Shiv asks. “It’s natural, like medical,” Greg says in defense. “It’s not that lemony, it’s just a hint of lemon!”
Aas Tom leaves the room to call the state for Wisconsin, he turns around and commands: “Do NOT put any more lemon water or wasabi in his eyes, OK?” Cue real-life internet meltdown and countless articles debating the relative lemony-ness of the LaCroix flavor.
3. Tom takes back what’s his on his wedding night.
Season 1 Episode 10
At Tom and Shiv’s English wedding, which takes place over the course of two episodes at the end of Season 1, guests are well aware of who’s made a contribution to wine: Tom’s parents, who seem keen to remind everyone, much to the amusement and derision of the Roy family at large.
After the nuptials have taken place, however, and shortly after Shiv explains to her husband that she’d like to have an open marriage, Tom confronts Nate, Shiv’s former-boyfriend-turned-lover, before kicking him out
“If I ever see you in the same room as Shiv again, I will pay men to break your legs,” Tom says, before demanding that he also stop drinking his parents’ wine. “Put it back, Nate” he says, snatching a bottle from a nearby server. ”Put my f*cking wine back now.”
2. Tom and Greg break down bottle service.
Season 1 Episode 6 “Which Side Are You On?”
In a tacky, extravagant New York nightclub, Tom declines Greg’s offer of a beer, letting him know he’s ordered bottle service.
Greg seems a little confused by the situation. “So this is what you do?” he asks. “You come to, like, a club and come to, like, this other part where the club sort of isn’t?” Tom confirms, smug smile on his face, and let’s Greg know he paid $2,000 for a bottle of Gold Leaf vodka.
Never mind that they’re being “totally ripped off,” Tom raises a shot glass. “Drink the gold, my friend,” he says. “And then later you and I can have a 24-karat piss.”
1. Weingut Wambsgans: Tom and Shiv’s failed natural wine project.
Season 3 Episode 6 “What It Takes”
In a Virginia hotel room, taking some time away from picking who will be the next president, Tom and Shiv finally get a chance to open a bottle of Spätburgunder from their very own German vineyard. The experience soon turns sour when Tom realizes the wine is closed with a screw cap.
Ever the optimist, he rallies on. “So it’s biodynamic,” he tells an uninterested Shiv. “It has quite a funk to it,” he adds, hope starting to dissipate. “You kind of have to meet it halfway, right?” Tom says, after both have taken their first sip. “It’s earthy, kind of Germanic?” Shiv replies.
“There’s lots to unpack,” Tom agrees. “It’s not floral. It’s not sugary, or vegetal. It’s quite agricultural, you know, it’s, it’s, uh…” Finally, he accepts defeat. “It’s not very nice, the wine, is it, Shiv?”
The wine makes a wonderful reappearance in the final season during an election eve party at the couple’s apartment. Tom instructs servers on how to push it to guests: “Don’t say it’s biodynamic, don’t say it’s German. Just say it’s a light fruity red, and yes, the fizz is normal — it’s sophisticated.”
This moment would be great enough on it’s own, but the show’s writers have more in store for us, as Nate eventually arrives. “Won’t drink too much of your wine, don’t worry” he says, awkwardly. But Tom actively tries to force it on him, delivering one of the all-time great Wambsgan-isms:
“No, don’t you worry, you gobble my gravlax, pal, there’s plenty more where that came from. It’s light and fruity and it’s the kind of wine that separates the connoisseurs from the weekend Malbec morons.”