How to unwind with the best wine board games and wine pairings
Wine board games offer hours of entertaining and educational play for one or more players and a whole list of benefits.
Board games, in general, offer us:
- Stress reduction through laughter and bonding with others.
- Brain stimulation – even with the easy games.
- In some cases, we learn or enhance our strategic skills
In the case of wine board games and wine tasting parties, we also hone our knowledge and palate for wine.
In this article, we take you through a tour of the top recommended wine board games, wine tasting games, and wine and food pairings for game nights. You can use the Table of Contents below to guide you through the article, which includes a few additional picks to help make your wine board game night special!
Top 4 wine board games
Thousands of people can’t get enough of one of America’s favorite wine board games, and we’re here to join the fun.
You’ve just inherited a vineyard in Tuscany. It’s a paltry estate, but you have a chance to make something of it! Stonemaier’s Viticulture Essential Edition board game gives you and up to 6 players an opportunity to create the best winery in Italy!
Here’s the game in a nutshell:
“You’ll have a few plots of land, an old crush pad, a tiny cellar, and 3 workers.Your job is to allocate your workers and helpful visitors to complete various tasks throughout the year.
“Each season is different on a vineyard, so the workers have different tasks they can take care of in the summer and winter. There’s competition over those tasks, and often the first worker to arrive at each one has an advantage over the rest.
“Using those workers and visitors, you can expand your vineyard by building structures, planting vines, and filling wine orders as you work towards the goal of owning the most successful winery in Tuscany.”
Take note that this latest edition comes with some elements of the Tuscany Essential Edition expansion pack, including 36 Mama & Papa cards, Field cards (previously known as “Properties”), expanded/revised Visitors, and 24 Automa cards (solo variant), along with a couple of minor rule changes.
Even so, you may want to go ahead and purchase the full Tuscany expansion game. The Tuscany expansion makes the game a little more complicated and longer playing.
The Viticulture Essential Edition takes about 45 minutes to 90 minutes to complete.
Many players agree that the Viticulture Essential provides more than enough fun and challenge for a night of wine board games!
Wine pairings for Viticulture Essential
Undoubtedly, Tuscany is one of the most rewarding places to visit in Europe. With its capital in Florence, Tuscany is home to some of the world’s most famous Renaissance art: Michelangelo’s David statue and Botticelli’s works like The Birth of Venus and Primavera.
Tuscany’s vast natural landscape features miles of Tyrrhenian coastline, fields of sunflowers, olive groves, and vineyards and the Apennine Mountains, which protect some of the most intact ecosystems in all of Europe.
From Tuscany’s rugged natural beauty comes some of the best known wines in the world. The Sangiovese grape accounts for most all plantings in Tuscany and accounts for more than 85% of the red wines, for which this region is best known.
A Chianti is the best place to start for wine pairings from Tuscany with your wine board games, especially one set in Tuscany! Our two picks pair well with hard cheeses.
Grapes: 90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot
Cranberry, raspberry, and red cherry dominate with hints of leather, cedar, and cocoa powder. Some earthiness in the finish and ripe soft tannins. On game night, consider pairing with a slightly aged cheddar.
Grapes: 91% Sangiovese 7% Canaiolo & Colorino and 2% Trebbiano Toscano & Malvasia del Chianti
Cherry and violet aromas, persistent and rounded flavors of spices and mushroom. Pairs well with hard cheeses.
For those who love wine board games, Vinhos (Portuguese for wine) is well known. The game tests your skills at the trade and economics of wine making. The deluxe edition is updated with new art and components as well as improved and simplified rules of the original game.
Over a period of six harvests, you will cultivate your vines, choose the best varieties, hire the best oenologists, take part in trade fairs, and show your opponents you are the best winemaker in the game. As winemakers in Portugal, the players develop their vineyards and produce wine to achieve maximum profit.
You can watch a long, in-depth video review of the game with excellent instructions.
I have a favorable bias toward Portuguese wines. As a history buff, the stories of ancient Portuguese vineyards capture my imagination. You can read more about my fascination with Portugal in this story about a tour of 9 remarkable Marian Shrines in northern Portugal.
Sampling a few bottles from the Vinho Verde region of northern Portugal may help you imagine the mountains that spill into the Atlantic to create a breathtaking coastline or the medieval towns and vineyards dotting the lush countryside as you play wine board games.
The vineyards here are known for green wines with a slightly fizzy nature. But if you prefer to stick with Portugal’s most famous wines, then you’ll need to select a port. Portugal is one of the world’s leading producers of wine, so opportunities abound to try a bottle no matter where you are located.
Grapes: 90% Alvarinho, 10% Arinto
A straw colored wine with an exuberant fruit driven aroma and minerality, this wine is well suited for casual gatherings.
Grapes: 40% Espadeiro, 35% Padeiro, 25% Touriga Nacional
A young wine bursting with aromas of ripe strawberry and watermelon with subtle notes of orange peel, pink grapefruit and quince.
A favorite among wine board games, Wine-opoly is just like the traditional game of Monopoly. Instead of real estate transactions, you are dealing in wine. The game is for two to six players, and you can choose between traditional length play time or a one-hour version.
This is not a game where you’ll learn much about wine, but the cards do feature some wine information. Although this is not a wine tasting game, some players have added to the rules so that drinking wine becomes part of the game.
Wine pairings for Wine-Opoly
Given that Wine-opoly is one of the traditional wine board games, let’s stick with the basics and pick out reliable white and red wines at under $20 with a focus on Oregon wines. Let’s just say the “O” in Wine-Opoly inspired me!
The Union Wine Company is known for taking full advantage of the diversity of grapes grown across Oregon vineyards. Wine Enthusiast’s review rates the 2019 Underwood Cellars Pinot Noir as a best buy with a “lovely core of black cherry candy fruit accompanied by light, refined tannins and balanced acidity.”
Build your own wine flight from Splash wines. You can add 15 bottles to your case.
Touted as one of the best wine board games for a girl’s night, Chardonnay Go is decidedly an adult game.
As you make your way through the vineyard to the tasting room, you might land on spaces like, “You sound like your mother, Move Back 1,” or “You think sweatpants are dressy, Move Back 2.” Those are the PG versions of the cards.
As you move around the board, you will also draw challenge performance cards, such as “While dancing and stradling your chair, look alluringly to the person on your left.”
Although wine is not required to play, it might help one tackle some of the challenges to perform!
“The game is silly- but really fun and me and my girls could spend all night playing but we really love drinking TOO much so we get drunk really fast!” wrote one reviewer.
Wine pairings for Chardonnay Go
Made from a grape variety that originated from Burgundy, France, the green-skinned Chardonnay grape is grown across the world. You can find Chardonnay across the spectrum of prices and in numerous styles of wine.
“Chardonnay is one of the leading white grape varieties in the world for production of high-quality white and sparkling table wines, due to its versatility in producing different wine styles,” according to the Cooperative Extension of the USDA.
In 2019, the Chardonnay grape covered the most acreage of any white wine grapes grown in California, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Let’s start in California with our wine board games top picks for Chardonnay Go and move across to the eastern United States.
From California’s oldest family-owned winery, the Gundlach Bundschu Chardonnay is crafted with food in mind with minimal new oak influences. The result is a balanced, bright wine full of juicy white nectarine and key lime layers.
The winery recommends the following cheese pairings: mild cheddar, Brie, Havarti, Provolone.
The critically acclaimed Chardonnay from California’s Central Coast is made in a classical Old World style. Vinous describes the wine as a “complex bouquet evoking pear nectar, tangerine, honeydew, brioche, vanilla and succulent flowers.”
Winemaker: Notes of lemon tart, jasmine, and orange blossom on the nose with nectarine, green apple, yuzu, and Meyer lemon on the palate.
4 of the top wine board games that include tasting
Typically, when planning a wine tasting event, you start by figuring out a theme. It can be as random as having everyone bring a bottle. You can focus on a wine region or wine style or just base it off the price point of wines.
Wine tasting games are another way to set your theme. These wine board games are a fun way to learn and test your wine knowledge.
Game creators Conner and Jessica Taylor got the idea for the Sommify game when Connor was studying for his sommelier exam and his level 3 WSET certification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
What is a WSET certification? As a professional or enthusiast, you can receive three levels of certification in wine, spirits, or sake that are recognized globally.
“For individuals seeking to delve deeper into the world of wines, this qualification provides a detailed understanding of grape growing and wine making.
Upon completion you will be able to assess wines accurately, and use your understanding to confidently explain wine style and quality,” according to the WSET organization.
The Taylors thought the traditional way of studying wine tasting – joining a group – was rather stuffy. Instead, they developed a game that could be more like a fun friends night.
The game Sommify uses the same classic wines used in the blind tasting portions of the exams. They say it’s like accidentally studying for your Somm exam.
What’s in the box
- Sommify Game Board
- 27 Bottle Shock Cards – A chance for good luck or misfourtune
- 6 Sommify Wine Keys – Each players guide and tool to deducing what each wine is
- 6 Dry-Erase Markers – To keep track of your tasting notes
- 6 Pawns – You know to mark your place on the board
- 2 Dice – Gotta move somehow
From Vines to Wines incorporates trivia into a wine tasting game that is meant to be fun and a little educational. You will need 4 to 6 bottles of wine to play.
The game creator took extra steps to make the board game itself appealing and the wine information accurate. The game was carefully researched by well-traveled wine tasters, and the main art of the game is based on an artist-commissioned oil painting.
What’s the premise of the game? Open 4-6 bottles, roll the die, move your cork from vineyard, harvest, crushing, clarification, bottling, and tasting. Along the way, answer trivia questions and taste test with each move.
Creator Tamara Leigh Murphy paired wine trivia questions, which can be difficult for those without wine knowledge, with a blind tasting wine board game that has been featured on the Today Show and on the Wine Spectator Gift Guide.
It’s one of those games you might want to keep a while and then pass on to friends or family. The trivia questions can get repetitive for someone who knows a lot about wine. But, on the other hand, it’s a fun way to get people interested in learning more about wine.
Winerd comes with 300 Q&A cards, 12 bonus/challenge cards, and a notebook for tasting notes. The playing pieces are synthetic cork, which you can swap out with your own wine corks.
Margaret, who purchased and reviewed the game, says, “This game is great for drinking and having fun. You can drink a little or a lot of wine as you play it. It is actually rather hard trivia if you don’t know anything about wine, but if you know something it’s pretty easy.”
The Master Sommelier Wine Aroma Kit is big league material. This “game” is not something you buy for a boozy night with friends, and not to mention, it is expensive and not always available.
I’ll let the expert reviewers speak for the kit, which comes with 88 aromas found in sweet, red, white, and sparkling wines.
“Wine aromas found in Aromaster are high quality, well selected and true to the esters found in wine,” says Debra Meiburg, master of wine, wine professor, wine journalist, and international wine competition judge.
“The playful approach of Aromaster makes it a fun educational kit. It is an exceptional quality tool for anyone looking to sharpen their wine tasting skills.”
Yohann Jousselin, MS, Shangri-La Hotel Chief Sommelier: “The Master Wine Aroma Kit of Aromaster is a great educational tool for any wine lovers. The kit is very complete with its selection of 88 wine aromas, the manual, the wine aroma wheel, the game… Everything is very well thought out. Well done!!!”
Roberto Garrone, Best European Sommelier 2005: “Finally a qualitative wine aroma kit that offers a wide selection of realistic wine scents. The Aromaster is an excellent tool for wine lovers, who wish to train their nose and a great gift for the whole family with its board game.”
Shinya Tazaki, World Best Sommelier 1995, president of the International Sommelier Association: “Out of five human senses, the most unused one is the sense of smell. This sense can be enhanced with education. I recommend the Master Wine Aroma collection created by Aromaster, which is a perfect training tool for identifying aromas in wine.”
Food pairings for wine board games
From charcuterie boards to chocolate, selecting appropriate foods is an important part of wine pairings, and not to mention, food keeps the fun going at any party where you are playing wine board games!
If you’re on social media at all, then you know that millennials became obsessed with charcuterie. Arranging a charcuterie board has been elevated to an art form!
Although we’ll leave the artwork to you, we have recommendations for the best cheese selections and charcuterie tools and platters.
4 top charcuterie platters for wine board games night
The Smirly wooden charcuterie platter is one of most impressive and affordable on the market. The premium board comes with 3 drawers and five sections.
The cheese board set comes with 4 stainless steel knives, 2 ceramic sauce bowls, 2 white markers, 2 black slate labels, 4 small forks, 1 wine opener, and a cheeseboard guide.
3 more charcuterie board favorites
Cheese and wine pairings
We can learn from the many experts who have experimented and found perfect or interesting wine and cheese pairings. I’ve paired two of my family’s favorite cheeses – which just so happen to be some of the best types of cheese for wine pairings on a night when you’re playing wine board games!
I’ll start with aged cheddar because it tends to be an all-around favorite for most people.
As cheddar ages, it goes from a creamy mild cheese to a tangier cheese with crumbling texture with hard, salt-like crystals. A mild cheddar is aged 2 to 3 months, sharp is aged 6 to 9 months, and extra sharp is aged 15 months or longer.
The most commonly recommended wine pair for aged cheddar is a Cabernet Sauvignon. Our recommendation comes from the Maipo Valley in Chile. Wine Spectator gave the affordably priced wine a 91 point rating, describing it as:
“Lithe, featuring focused cherry, currant and plum flavors, flanked by accents of white pepper. Minerally midpalate, offering a finish filled with freshly crushed green herbal notes. Drink now through 2024.”
A Sauvignon Blanc is the go-to pairing for goat cheese because the two together are refreshing. The citrus notes and minerals in a Sauvignon Blanc interact with the rather bland acidity in goat cheese to bring out an invigorating taste.
Best picks for chocolate for wine pairings & wine board games
Milk chocolate is often the easiest to pair with wines. Dark chocolate can heighten the sense of bitterness in some wines. However, with careful selection, we can use both milk and dark chocolate to pair with wines.
Milk chocolate wine pairings
Some of the best wine pairings for milk chocolate are Pinot Noir, Riesling, dessert wines, Ruby Port, or even a sparkling wine. Here are some of our favorites:
- Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2018 (California)
- Ferreira Ruby Port (Portugal)
- Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc – Viognier 2020 (California)
- Chambers Rosewood Rutherglen Grand Muscat (Australia)
- Graham Beck Bliss Demi Sec (South Africa)
Dark chocolate wine pairings
Have you noticed that in the world of chocolate that people tend to side up for either dark or milk chocolate? Then there’s some people who absolutely do not like their chocolate to be mixed with anything else, such as mint. For me, however, I’ll take chocolate in most varieties!
The days of shunning dark chocolate are over. Choices abound for wine pairings with dark chocolate.
Let’s start first with a few recommendations for dark chocolate. Of course, you know by now that I love Godiva, but I recognize and try many other fine dark chocolate brands.
- Godiva dark chocolate gift box
- Brix dark chocolate bars in a variety gift box. Brix is a favorite for wine tasting parties.
- Green & Blacks organic dark chocolate bars.
- 24 pieces of Ethel dark chocolate creations in a gift box.
- Another wine pairing favorite – Neuhaus Belgium dark chocolate praline assortment.
Our recommendations for wine pairings with dark chocolate include a variety of price points from outstanding, well-reviewed wines from Sonoma County, California; Rapel Valley, Chile; and Australia.
- Decoy Merlot 2018 (California)
- Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Merlot 2015 (Chile)
- Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (California)
- Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel 2014 (California)
- Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2015 (Australia) *Expensive*
Chocolate and wine pairings gift sets
Wine and food sets can take the guesswork out of pairings and make for beautiful gifts for any wine lover.
For a wine tasting party, it’s difficult to beat the pairing of Brix chocolate wine pairing chocolate set and bottles of a 2018 Head High Sonoma County Pinot Noir and a 2016 Chateau Peymouton.
Other excellent chocolate and wine pairings sets include (in order of price points low to high):
- Luc Belaire Luxe and 8-piece assorted Godiva chocolates
- 2018 Baileyana Firepeak Pinot Noir and Godiva truffles
- Dom Perignon and 8-piece Godiva Gift Set
- Dom Perignon and 36-piece Godiva Gift Set
How to decorate for a wine board games night
In our household, we like to add a little flair with temporary decor, even sometimes for a family night! Decorations add festivity and help set the tone for your get-together.
- Champagne Bottle Balloon Kit
- Wine Time Banner
- Hanging wine party swirls in a set of 40
- Photo booth props for wine tasting party
- Burlap bags for blind wine tasting party
Puzzles for wine lovers
As an alternative to wine board games, sometimes we just want a nice, quiet time alone or with loved ones. Puzzles are a great way to unwind with a glass of wine and just let the world slow down around you.
Something to keep in mind: Puzzles vary in quality of the pieces and difficulty. It’s always best to read the reviews.
For example, my favorite wine puzzle “scene” is made by the Vermont Christmas Company, which is a store I love. Their puzzle called Wine Country gets a great overall review score.
I love the puzzle because I can imagine myself in the scene, and it is so relaxing. But the first thing I did was to read all of the recent reviews.
We read through all the reviews of wine puzzles and came up with 2 great choices with the highest overall rating from reviewers.
Two for the price of one! Each puzzle is 1,000 pieces. It comes in 1 box, but each puzzle, measuring 20 x 27 inches, is separately bagged. One puzzle shows an array of wine bottles and the other shows wine labels. Both were designed by Charlie Girard and made in the USA.
Shaped puzzles offer a little something out of the ordinary. The 500-piece set includes two uniquely shaped puzzles: a beautiful bouquet of pink roses and a glass and bottle of rosé wine. Each puzzle is bagged separately. Wine pairing: Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rose 2019
By this point, you probably feel as though you’ve been on the Grand Tour of wine board games!
We understand that game night for wine lovers includes more than just the wine board games. There’s a whole production that surrounds the preparation and execution of just the right game night or wine tasting.
We’ve tried to run the gamut of the top reviewed wine board games so that we could capture the best picks for those who seek a sophisticated gathering all the way to those of you who just want to have some fun with friends and family.
In the comments below, let us know about your picks and plans for a night of wine board games.