by Rick Riozza
As wine comes home for the holidays, you may wish to add to the fun and enjoyment with the new crop of wine-related toys, games and gifts. Purchasing a nice bottle of wine as a gift is always welcomed, and wine appreciation is so enjoyable that the other “stuff” surrounding the vino can be entertaining as well.
Just google “wine toys” and you’ll see that we can satisfy the wine lovers in our lives with all of those vino-stuff stocking stuffers. Of course when we say “wine toys” we mean to say wine “things”, “gadgets”, or “accessories”—but we men always maintain our affinity with toys.
And there are different types of wine enthusiasts to consider buying for: For instance, the wine “geek” who loves the “gadgets” that can pump argon gas into the wine bottle to keep it fresh; or the high tech corkscrews that eject the cork, chill the wine, and assist in pronouncing the French label!
Then there is the “homemaker-type” who enjoys kitchen accessories such as the Wine & Cookie Santa Plate, Holiday Wine-Art Kitchen Towels, or those festive hanging Wine Grape Cluster Lights. And there are those jolly snowflake-etched stem-less glass wine tumblers that even I—with so many wineglasses in the cupboard—think are very cool and desirable. They don’t interfere with viewing your wine but give an extra celebratory feel of things. Go on-line to see these and others at wineenthusiast.com
If money is no object then one the most fanciful gifts would include the Riedel Amadeo Lyra Decanter. This artsy and stylish swan-like shaped decanter speaks elegance at around $360. Or bring it down to around $70 and pick up the Vinturi Red Wine Aerator which they claim is “clearly on the cutting edge of wine aerating. Mixing just the right amount of air with your wine at the precise moments, it allows your reds to breathe instantly. The results are a better bouquet, enhanced flavor, and a smoother finish.”
To me this is surely an expensive mousetrap that’s only necessary when you forget to allow the wine to breathe. It’s definitely the “Star Trek” model of aerators along with a base that resembles a small espresso machine.
Since I’m always encouraging home wine-tasting parties, you can bet that I like checking out the card & board wine games. It’s an easy way to get into a wine-tasting party mode. These wine-themed pastimes are usually fun and educational at the same time, and, wine sampling and/or drinking is usually part of the game! All the games below are available at amazon.com or boardgamegeek.com.
· Wine-Opoly: No surprise here on running the name. The skivvy on it reads: “Pop the cork off any gathering with WINEOPOLY! Players buy favorite wines, collect bunches of grapes and trade them in for decanters. Sounds easy enough but add Import Taxes and serving faux pas and it becomes a little more difficult and a lot more fun! Learn while you play! Each deed contains wine descriptors and fun facts about each wine.” A quick review said: “Wineopoly is fantastic. We sounded like kids again—perfect game for adults to play!
· The Wine Game “is a trip through the famous wine producing countries of the world – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the U.S. With a role of the dice and some entrepreneurial skill, you can own vineyards in California, a wine estate in Italy or most of the great wines in France. It has the thrills, excitement and speculation of the real wine world. It involves buying and selling great vineyards, bidding in rare wine auctions and risking your fortune on a chance to become the wine baron of the world. But it isn’t just a game – it’s an education!”
· Connoisseur (an older game that came out in 1987) is a game based on the wine industry. Each player takes the part of an international wine shipper. The players travel around a board matching GRAPE cards they collect along the way to WINE cards that they have to purchase. The object of the game is to establish monopolies. This is not a simple roll and move game, as there is a certain amount of economics in the game–the value of everybody’s wine is dependent on the VINTAGE, which changes periodically. So unlike “The Wine Game”, which tests your knowledge of wine, “Connoisseur” actually teaches you about it.
· Wine Smarts 2.0 is not a board game but a Q & A game. Chef Mario Batali says, “WineSmarts is the greatest game ever for wine snobs, wine geeks, cork dorks and even nascent enophiles.” Created by experts and designed to teach as you play, this is a perfect item for newcomers as well as seasoned vets. Comes with 100 questions and answers, a 12 page tip guide and sturdy scorepad.
· All You Need Is Wine is the perfect party game to entertain your guests! Designed for people of all wine knowledge levels, this blind wine tasting game allows players to learn and practice the 5 S’s of Wine Tasting: Sight, Swirl, Smell, Sip, and Savor. Players blind taste each wine and record their tasting. Players then guess each wine’s grape varietal and tally the results.
· And finally, there is A Taste for Wine & Murder Mystery Game. It’ a complete set up for those who wish to get in costume, in character, dine and sleuth. It’s the ultimate dinner party game.
Around the holidays, these are fun interactive games that enjoyably morph into wine tasting parties!
Enjoy & Cheers!
Rick continues to conduct wine events & play these games at private home winetastings. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.