At various points we’ve referenced board games on this blog and on our Facebook page (you do follow us on Facebook, right?). Games are a fabulous accompaniment to wine. Games are social; wine is social. Games can get really difficult and you can lose horribly; wine can make you okay with getting trounced. It’s a beautiful symbiosis of cardboard and vitis vinifera. Here are a few of our favorites and some general wine pairings.
Ticket to Ride
We just got this game recently, and I’m really digging it. In Ticket to Ride, your mission is to grow your railroad by completing routes across the country. You score points for every completed segment, plus bigger point awards for completing entire routes (i.e., New York to Miami, Vancouver to Montreal, etc.). Two turns in and you understand exactly what’s going on, so this is a great game for opening a bottle of wine you want to enjoy and think about. You can even explore a whole bottle and maybe one of its friends while playing Ticket to Ride because it doesn’t demand that much from the old frontal lobes. I recommend a big Bordeaux-style red for this game.
Gloom is awesome. It’s a card game in which you control the fate of a family of misfits and miscreants. Your goal is simple: make your family members as miserable as possible, then kill them for maximum negative points. You do this by playing Unfortunate Event cards on them. Perhaps Cousin Mordecai was sickened by salmon, or maybe he was mauled by manatees. Either way, these events will put him in the negative point range. However, your opponent can play positive events on your family members (had a picnic in the park!) and these add points. The more twisted and bizarre your friends the more fun you’ll have because you can weave stories around the events occurring around your characters. Wine helps with storytelling (Hemingway said to write drunk and edit sober), so I recommend a free-flowing lubricant like Cabernet Franc or Chambourcin.
In Agricola, you play a peasant farmer, and you spend the game growing your family and raising grain and livestock. No really, it’s a fun game! It’s in the genre referred to as “Euro games,” which Wikipedia describes as
a class of tabletop games that generally have simple rules, short to medium playing times, indirect player interaction, and abstract physical components.Such games emphasize strategy, downplay luck and conflict, lean towards economic rather than military themes, and usually keep all the players in the game until it ends.
What makes Agricola fun is that while the goal is to outscore your opponents at the end, you’re really doing your own thing and growing your farm in your own way and not fighting with the other players. At the end of the game the player with the most family members, fields, critters, and other factors is the winner.
Now, I said it’s a fun game. It’s not an easy game, and you’d do well to make sure you’re laser focused the first few times you play. That makes your ideal wine pairing a Moscato, due to the low alcohol content. If you have a low tolerance you might even want to start with water. It’ll be worth it though!
Settlers of Catan
At this point a lot of folks are familiar with Settlers of Catan. If you’re not familiar with it, you and your opponents are the settlers of a new land. The goal is to build settlements, cities, and roads and to do so more successfully than your opponents. Settlers is often referred to as the gateway drug of Euro games (it was for us) because it’s light and fun and gets you thinking that you could do more of this. Gameplay is pretty simple and straightforward and you can purchase several expansions that really enhance the game. I’d recommend a good local cider to accompany a game of Settlers. Cider was popular in the colonial time in America, so it just feels right for forging a path at the edge of wilderness!
When our friends introduced us to Settlers of Catan, it was a reawakening of our inner game geeks. We enjoyed gaming, but what really pushed us over the top lately was Wil Wheaton’s internet show, Tabletop. If you’re looking for new games and a few laughs, it’s worth checking out.
What are your go-to games for a night of wine and friends?
The Wine and Boardgames Inspires Couple to Live in Giant Pop-o-matic Bubble by Swirl, Sip, Snark, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.