VinoTripping Blog

VINO!™ The Most Versatile Wine Tasting Card Game on the Market – fun and educational

VINO! Card Game

There are many fun ways to use the VINO! card deck. Check out the versions detailed below.

Solitaire:  1 player: Remove the Somm cards and bonus cards from the deck, leaving only the picture cards (119). Place the card deck face down. Take a bottle of wine, put it in a blind tasting bag and try not to look at the label. Open the bottle and poor yourself a small glass of wine. Use the swirl, smell and sip method (detailed in another post) to sample the wine. Choose the card on the top of the deck. If you think it matches, hold it in your hand, if it doesn’t match, place in a discard pile. Continue through the deck. When you are done, reveal the wine and see how many cards matched the wine correctly and how many you were incorrect on. +1 point for correct matches, -1 point for incorrect matches. You can read the label or look up the tasting notes online. Expert: see if you can correctly identify the varietal in the wine as well.

Wine War: 2-3 players: Have you ever played War with playing cards? This is the adult version. Remove the Somm and bonus cards from the deck. Mix the cards and deal out the deck to the players. Start with the first bagged wine. Pour each player a 2 oz pour. Each player will swirl, smell and sip the wine. When ready, the dealer says go and each player flips over their card on the table (usually slams it on the table as this is war). The players read the cards as fast as they can and try to grab as many cards as they can get to that are a match to the wine. The first hand on it gets it. Scoring: Once all of the cards have been flipped, each correct match in the player’s hand receives +1 and each incorrect card receives -1 point. Use the label on the bottle and search the name of the wine on the internet for the tasting notes.

Spit!: 2-4 players: The deck of wine term cards are placed face down in the center of the table. The players taste the wine. When ready, the dealer pulls the top card and flips it over, face up. The players all try to grab the card if it is a match to what is in their glass. The first one to touch the card gets it. Once you have gone through the deck, each correct match receives +1 and each incorrect match receives -1. The player with the highest score wins.

Wine Cinq: 2-4 players: Bag the wine and open it. Pour each player a 2 oz pour. One at a time the players choose a card from the face down deck. If they think it is a match, they hold it, if not they place in the discard pile. Once a player has 5 cards in their hand they think are a match they say “cinq”. The players then reveal all of the cards they are holding in their hands. Each correctly matched card receives +1 point and each incorrect card receives -1 point. The player who claimed “cinq” loses 3 points if not all cards are correctly matched.

Mess: 1+ players: The picture cards are all placed faced down on the table. The wine is bagged and poured. The players swirl, sniff and sip. When the dealer says “119 pickup” everyone flips the cards and tries to grab the cards they think are a match to the wine. After 90 seconds the dealer says “stop”. Each player reveals their cards and are rewarded +1 for correct matches and -1 for incorrect matches. The dealer will read the label or look online for tasting notes.

Easy Vine:  2+ players: The Dealer pulls out the “white wine”, “red wine”, bonus and cheat sheet cards from the deck and deals each player five cards. The wine is poured. The players taste the wine and choose the ONE card that BEST describes the wine. The card is handed to the dealer upside down. Once all players have handed in their cards, the dealer decides which one is the best match. The player who chose the card that best matched the wine receives +1 point.

Expert Tasting Test: 2+ players: Head to head: one on one. The deck is dealt to the players. The dealer pours for wine for them and they swirl, sniff and sip. The dealer says go and the players have 30 seconds to find the most cards that match their wine. They lose points if the card doesn’t match the wine.

Black Jack: 2+ players: The players place their bet. The dealer deals two cards face up to each player. The wine is poured and the players swirl, smell and sip. The players then must decide whether they want more cards (hit me or hold). If they choose to hit, and the next card flipped for them is a match, the player then can ask for another or stand. If the card that is flipped is not a match, the player busts. Once everyone is through the round, the dealer reveals their cards and plays out the round as well. If the dealer busts, the players remaining in the round win and double their bet.

Memory:  1+ players. Pour a glass of wine (covered in a blind tasting bag) and taste it. To start, the 1st player begins by flipping over a card of their choice for everyone to see. If they believe it matches the wine they are drinking, they keep it. If they don’t think it matches, they will flip it back over. Each player takes turns until there are none left. If a player leaves a card that another player wants, they need to remember where it was and flip it to take it. This game can also be played without wine by choosing a varietal or simply “red” or “white” wine and players will try to find the cards that match the description of the varietal or overall kind of wine.

Let’s Taste!: 2+ players: 4+ bottles of wine are placed on a table in blind tasting bags opened. Each player has a glass in front of them and tries 1 oz of each wine. The dealer deals each player 3 cards. They view their cards and choose the wine that they best think matches the majority of their cards. They discard the cards that they don’t think match. The dealer then awards +1 point for each correct matched card and -1 for the incorrect matches.

Tasting Room Tool: 1+ plus Consultant: Pour your clients your first wine and fan the deck out in front of them. See if they can choose one or two cards that match the wine they are tasting. For busy times, ring a bell if they get one right. For slower times, this can initiate the conversation on how to swirl, smell and sip the wine and pick out the qualities of the wine and winemaker.

Educational Tool: 1+ players: Use VINO! to study for your WSET, CSW or Court of Master Sommeliers exams. Simply blind taste your wine and search the deck for cards and terms that match. Then compare your tasting notes. See if you can organize the deck into primary, secondary and tertiary term categories.

VINO! Blind Tasting Party: 3+ players: The cards are shuffled and “The Somm” deals everyone a random set of 6 cards, then pours each player a 1-2 ounce pour of the wine for the round, the bottle is hidden inside a wine bag.  Each player reviews their cards and smells and tastes the wine in their glass. They may spit or dump – (best practice for being able to taste the later wines). The players each privately choose which of their cards are a match to their wine. They hold the matching cards and place the non-matching cards face down in front of them. The Somm then swaps out each players’ discarded cards for new cards. The players review the new cards, add the cards they believe are a match, to their previous matched pile and discard the cards that are not a match.

Next each player takes a turn displaying and reading out loud their “matching” cards. The Somm decides on which cards are a match and awards 1 point to each correctly matched card. *If a player decides to present ALL 6 cards as matching, and any 1 is incorrect, they automatically lose 6 points.  The discarded cards can be added to a general discard pile to be re-sorted for the next round. The Somm continues until every player has gone.

At the end of each round, The Somm will have recorded and added up the points for each player. The player with the most points for that specific round will randomly choose a bonus card from the face-down deck of Somm cards (black back). If the player answers correctly (with no assistance from other players, the internet, a book, etc.) they are awarded an additional two points.

The Somm Challenge: If The Somm decides that a card does not match a wine, the group can throw an upheaval and vote to challenge The Somm. If the majority of the group votes to challenge, The Somm must look up the wine and the term to verify. If the group is correct, each player who voted with the challenge will get an additional two points, those who voted against will lose 1 point.

Charades: Guests are broken up into two teams. A player is chosen to go first for team A. The player chosen to go first picks a tasting card from the pile and then acts out or cues their team to guess the term they chose. Each team has 60 seconds to guess as many terms from the deck as they can. They earn points for each card they guess correctly. Team B will then go and so on until you make it through the whole team. By the end you will have gone through the deck a few times, so it will get easier and easier…. and all of the guests will have learned the professional Sommelier tasting terms for wine tasting.

Varietal Madness: 1+ person. Each player is dealt 10 cards. Each player chooses a varietal they want the dealer to guess, and don’t say it out loud. They review their cards and choose the cards in their hand that best describe the varietal. When it is their turn, they lay the cards down and see if the dealer is able to identify the varietal. This can also be played in pairs, where your teammate tries to guess yours and you try to guess your teammates varietal. 

Headbanz: 4+ person. Players are split into 2 teams. Each player takes a turn, alternating teams. Team 1 player has deck in front of them. When person timing says “go”, the player flips a card over and places it on their forehead. Their teammates try to get them to guess what the card says. If they guess correctly, they get a point and pick up the next card and place on their head. Play continues for 45 seconds per player, alternating, until each team has gone through their players. The winners have the highest score.

About Author

After graduating from Brandeis University, Alison worked as a teacher at two op high schools in the country and spent her summers traveling the world. On one of her adventures, she visited Stellenbosch and Paarl in South Africa, which ignited a lifelong passion for learning about wine. In 2004, she worked as a Wine Consultant for the Traveling Vineyard and began to study wine more intensively. While working as a high tech recruiter, she completed her Advanced Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in the UK in 2018. Her wine travels have taken her to the wine growing regions of the US, Europe, Africa and Australia. Alison is a member of the Boston Sommelier Society, a member of the Guild of Master Sommeliers and is a Wine, Travel and Lifestyle Media Influencer. She recently created and released her successful wine tasting card game VINO!. Currently, Alison is running her business, Artisan Wine Group, offering private and corporate wine events and sharing VINO! across the globe.

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