A friend gave me the board game Winerd for Christmas, and we tried it out over the weekend. It’s basically a trvia game about wine, with the added bonus of wine tastings. It’s a very fun idea, but unfortunately, this game is strictly geared for the wine beginner. P. and I don’t consider ourselves wine experts in any way, and we both got most of the questions right. It was still fun though (and it made us feel very smart and intellectual), and we thought of ways to spice it up next time we play.
You need three bottles of wine (sold separately) to play: either three whites or three reds. (If you wanted to ratchet up the difficulty level, you might pick all wines from the same varietal.) At the beginning of the game, you taste all three wines and rate them using an included taste test note sheet. It’s clear that this is intended to teach newbies how to taste wine, so this game would be great for someone who is truly just starting out in learning about wine and is intimidated to even go to tasting rooms. You make notes on the color, aroma, and taste. The sheets include tips (“swirl the wine to bring out more aromas”; “move the wine all over your mouth and tongue to coat the taste buds”) and the board has a list of vocabulary you might use for the aroma and taste (fruity, tart, grassy, earthy). (Our wines were a French White Burgundy, an Italian Pinot Grigio, and Mad Housewife Chardonnay, the last of which was left over from Wine Blogging Wednesday and had gone untouched since.)
(P. and I were lucky in our first tasting room experience, I think. We spent several days in Carmel and took a wine tour in the Carmel Valley with a viticulturist. Since it was the off-season, we were the only people on the tour, and this guy was so great: very casual, yet super-informative. He tooks us around to the wineries, brought us out to the vineyards, and at the various tasting rooms, he gave us expert lessons in tasting wine. And we didn’t feel awkward about not knowing anything, because we felt like we were in an educational setting and didn’t have to prented to know what we were doing. Also, he was driving us around, so we could taste to our hearts’ content. If you are ever out that way, you should definitely take an AgVentures tour.)
Anyway, you taste the wines, you take notes, you put the wine away. Throughout the game, you land on “blind taste” spots. At that point, someone pours you some wine, and then you blind taste it and guess which one it is. This is why it might be best if the wines are all from the same grape, or in some other way have similar qualities. If you pick a California Chardonnay, a late-harvest Washington Riesling, and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll probably get it right every time. After the first taste, P. said, “this game would be a lot better if you were supposed to pick out of 20 wines.” Now that would be awesome. If you want to throw a Winerd party with twenty wines, feel free to invite me.
You’re only supposed to take small tastes, and in fact, the instructions say you also need a “container for discarding excess wine”. However, as we are lushes, our wine did not get discarded. Rather, P. would say, “hurry and answer! I need another drink!” And so we poured half glasses at every blind taste square.
The questions are multiple choice. For example,
If a wine is described as “oaky”, it is possible to know:
A. The type of barrel in which it was aged.
B. The type of grape blends used.
C. The wine’s country of origin.
Italian Soave is a:
A. Sweet white wine.
B. Dry white wine.
C. Dry red wine.
and things like:
Which Old World region produces red wines and most similar to California reds?
A. The Mosel in Germany.
B. Alsace in France.
C. Tuscany in Italy.
The answers include additional information. For instance, the last question, for which the answer is Tuscany, the card goes on to read, “Tuscany’s climate is the most similar to that of California, with both having long growing seasons. Germany’s Mosel and France’s Alsace both have colder climates and, therefore, shorter growing seasons.”
I think it might be fun to, instead of guessing just the wine when you taste, also mention a characteristic of the wine’s nose or palate. That way, you can mock people who were obviously making it all up when they wrote down “chalky and tart; green apple” and then later in the blind taste claim the same wine is “sweet and fruity; peachy”. Well, making it all up, or maybe just tipsy.
So, if you’re just starting out in wine or have friends that are, this is a fun way to learn more. Even though we got a lot of the questions right, we did learn a little more by reading the backs of the cards. And of course, it’s always fun to taste wine. We also ate a lot of cheese during the game. I would recommend this also. Everything’s better with cheese.