Pete Belli
United States
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
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The Wine Connoisseur is a trivia game which (according to the rule booklet) will challenge knowledgeable wine devotees and educate novice tasters. I paid three bucks for a copy at the thrift store and received fair value for my money. I learned more about the subject while preparing this Session Report than every bit of information I had previously absorbed about wine since illegally purchasing my first bottle of Boone’s Farm in high school.

Did you know that Dom Perignon shouted “I am drinking the stars!” after tasting Champagne for the first time?




Play begins with each wine expert drawing a card and rolling a single six-sided die. The result tells the player which of the six questions on the card he or she will be required to answer. The multiple choice questions (1 ,3, or 5 on the die) allow a player to advance two spaces on the game board with a correct answer. The less challenging true-or-false questions (4 and 6 on the die) move a player forward one space with a proper response… or a lucky guess. The tricky “Bonus or Disaster” questions (a 2 on the die) can move a player forward, push the token backward, cause the contestant to lose a turn, or even gain an extra die roll.




The pathway depicted on the board is a grapevine which twist and turns around the chateau in the center of the board. Frankly, this intricate pattern was a pain in the posterior. It fits the theme but the winding trail was almost too convoluted. I eventually adapted.

The first player to reach the chateau is declared the winner. As with most trivia games, a player is required to jump through hoops of burning fire before entering the center square… or in this case, answer two questions back to back.

This information in this game might be slightly outdated (it was published in 1986) but it is an educational marvel for the uninitiated wine drinker. In my younger days I memorized the names and vital statistics for a few good wines (Tavel was one, I think) in a pathetic attempt to impress women I took to fancy restaurants. That half-forgotten information and a few wine-related items from popular culture (MD 20/20, Thunderbird, etc.) represented my entire connoisseur database.

As a test of my ability to think on my feet I slowly plowed through the card deck as we sipped from the goblet of wine wisdom. Surprisingly, there was not one mention of Boone’s Farm on any of the trivia cards which appeared during this session!



Here are a few sample questions:

1 Which of the following is Germany's third largest wine region noted for its "Black Forest" area?

(A) Franken (B) Baden (C) Roessler


Answer: (B) Baden

Spoiler (click to reveal)
With some knowledge of German geography (absorbed from books about Napoleon or WWII) I should have nailed this one... but I had no clue.



2 BONUS OR DISASTER (1)

In what country is the red/white ratio of wine cultivation different from the rest of the world?


Answer: Germany

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I didn't know this, but it seems logical. Based on my limited experience, most wines are red. Germany is known for its white wines so that region would be a logical choice. I would be required to fall back one space.


3 By late 1940,about how many wineries operated in the Contra Costa wine region of California?

(A) 10 (B) 4 (C) 25


Answer: (A) 10

Spoiler (click to reveal)
This is a totally BS question. Who knows this stuff?


4 TRUE OR FALSE

Tannins are responsible for extending the life of bottled wine.


Answer: True

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Tannins? Sounds vaguely familar. I'll go with true. BINGO! A one space move.



5 Which of these wine and food combinations would best complement each other?

(A) Johannisberg Riesling and veal (B) Merlot (Mair-Lo') and light seafood (C) Chardonnay and lobster


Answer: (C) Chardonnay and lobster

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Got it! This was an educated guess. Most of what I know about food/wine pairings comes from movies -- Hannibal Lector taught us that a nice Chianti goes well with liver and fava beans. I knew that white wine goes with seafood; the other two choices were murky since I don't know the color of Merlot. Jump me ahead two spaces.



6 TRUE OR FALSE

Around 1800, European grape varieties were introduced into Napa Valley.


Answer: True

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Another guess. 1800 sounded about right (Spanish colonial period) and I had a 50/50 shot. I could advance one space.




It would have taken me hours to finish this game without guessing the answers. It was highly educational but not (for me, anyway) highly entertaining. I would have preferred to simply read the cards while relaxing on the couch and enjoying a glass of wine. I was impressed by the phonetic pronunciation keys and the extreme level of WineGeek passion displayed in this design.

If I knew how to properly use a corkscrew I’d open a bottle of something expensive and propose a toast to The Wine Connoisseur. I learned stuff about wine, had a few laughs at my own expense, and no Champagne bubbles tickled my nose.
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John Brady
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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No Mad Dog 20/20??? Preposterous!
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David Witzany
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pete belli wrote:
I learned stuff about wine, had a few laughs at my own expense, and no Champagne bubbles tickled my nose.

Of course, a lot of what Americans call "Champagne" is no such thing. Properly, Champagne is a sparkling wine only produced in the northeast part of France.

Another bit of wine knowledge one can glean from the cinema.

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