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The Wine Tasting Game

Describing itself as a 'novel and fun consumable wine game involving the blind tasting and evaluation of wine'. The 'consumable' descriptor refers to the fact that that game, which is attractively packaged in a sturdy green box, contains four bottles of wine. The good news is that you get to drink them. In addition, there's a waiter's friend-style corkscrew, several bits of paper and some pencils. The wines are cleverly masked so you can't see the labels, but try not to look at the corks, which will give you some minor clues as to the wine's identity.

I tried playing the game along with a non-wine geek, to try to get a feel for whether this would work with an average dinner party clientele. So how do you play? It's not a board game. Instead, you taste each wine in turn, answering a series of questions. Get a question right, you get points, and the individual (or team) with the most points wins. First you have to identify the most distinctive aroma, then the most distinctive flavour. This is a tricky process, because you have to get exactly the same descriptor for each as decided by the manufacturer's tasting panel. There's a clue sheet included giving the sorts of aromas and flavours characteristically exhibited by different grape varieties, which helps, but we felt it would be better to get people to choose from a list of five or six alternatives for each wine, rather than leaving the choice open-ended. You get 10 points for each of these.

Next up, you have to identify the grape variety. This carries 15 points. Guessing the retail price within a pound gets you 5 points, as does answering either of the bonus questions correctly. You can lose 5 points if you use one of the clue cards (there are two for each wine), introducing an element of strategy into the game.

Conclusions? It's a brilliant idea, and pretty well executed. We enjoyed playing the game, and it's pitched at a level where anyone can take part, although a little wine knowledge would be an asset. The choice of wines was quite good (I can't say much more without spoiling the game), although one wasn't a particularly good example of its variety. With a slightly more care in selecting the wines, I'd endorse this game wholeheartedly. There are two versions of the game: the 'classic' (rrp 39.99) and 'gold' (rrp 59.99), and both are going to be produced in a series: current release is series 1, and series 2, with different wines, will then follow.

The non-wine geek enjoyed playing, but she had two suggestions. First, that the host should do their homework in order to lead the game positively and effectively. I hadn't, so we spent quite a while trying to work out just how to play. Second, it would be fun to look at the results after each round, rather than waiting to the end to tot up the scores. This aside, the wine tasting game looks set to be a big success.

Contact details:

www.thewinegame.com
Wine Connoisseur
4 Codrington Place
Bristol
BS8 3DE

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