SPRING! Have you all heard of this thing called spring? It’s when the air finally doesn’t feel like ice trying to break down your veins, and the grass finally turns green again instead of looking like sludgy decay. Also there is sunlight! Honest to goodness SUN LIGHT FOR WHOLE LONG HOURS AT A TIME! Spring is the best. You should get you some.
The most unfortunate thing about spring, however, is the rain. Last week in Michigan, it rained a fuckton. During one of those storms I thought to myself: “Self, I really wish there was a simple list of board games that I could be playing right now. Even better if that list told me what wine to drink on this dreary evening.” And so, this list was born.
I’m not very fussy about my wine, but I am very fussy about my board games. I think wine should be easily drinkable and described in words that don’t require a sommelier’s license (though more power to you if you happen to have one). I also think a bottle should never cost more than $20, as is true on this list. Most of these wines can be found at Trader Joe’s, because that’s where I buy most of mine. I tried to stick with relatively well known brands, so all of these bottles should be fairly accessible to whatever is your wine-purchasing store of choice.
The board games are a mix of classic and new school, so hopefully you find something familiar and something you’ve never heard of but want to try out. Nearly all of them can be played with two players or more, though some are specifically designed for large parties.
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Pinot Noir & Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is the new millennium’s Monopoly. That’s right; I said what I said. Once I heard of a mother who – during an extraordinarily important moment of the game – flipped the entire board upside down and called her own daughter a “Bitch!” I kid you not. In Ticket to Ride, you build cross-country train routes and secretly plot to block other players from completing their own. It sounds deceptively simple, but if you’re the kind of person who enjoys buying Park Place and making your friends squirm for it, then my goodness are you going to love this game! Pair it with the essentially simple Georges Duboeuf Pinot Noir. It tastes like strawberries and cherries; your group will have no problem finishing the whole bottle while waiting to see which early 20th century rail tycoon comes out on top.
Cecilia Beretta Treviso Prosecco & Scrabble
Are you ready to be capital “C” CLASSY? To dream of wearing oversized chunky sweaters on cool spring evenings and subtly snack on a cheese plate while enjoying a lazy sunset? Well then, this Prosecco is for you. Sipping on it luxuriously always makes me feel like I’m the lead in some Nora Ephron movie and Meryl Streep is my best friend. Enjoy it with a good game of Scrabble, hands down the classiest of board games.
Big Churn Chardonnay & Codenames
If you’ve ever played Password, you are well on your way to Codenames, where two teams race to identify the codenames of their “agents” with the help of one-word clues from the team’s “Spymaster.” You can play with any number of people, starting at just two and working your way up, which makes it ideal for any party size. The Big Churn Chardonnay is buttery and oaky, with a hint of vanilla. It’s ideal for slow slipping while you solve the puzzle. And oh hey – since we’re here, I wouldn’t want you gays to miss out on the Harry Potter version of the game. You’re very welcome.
Reserve des Chastelles Tavel Rosé & Cards Against Humanity
You’ve probably played Cards Against Humanity before; it’s become a staple of the last decade. But just in case, it’s a word/phrase matching game where your friends all try to outdo each other by doing their snarkiest, dirtiest worst to make you laugh. You declare the winner in each round. You’re all guaranteed to crack each other up and the Reserve des Chastelles Travel Rosé – with its bright strawberry and watermelon flavor – is up for the challenge of keeping you hydrated between all the fits of laughter.
Espiral Vinho Verde & Werewords
I had my first bottle of Espiral just this month, and I never want to go back to drinking any other white wine! It’s effervescent, crisp, and tastes like a bottle of Sprite went to a very fancy European study abroad. I can’t recommend it enough! A wine this bright deserves Werewords, a game where players must attempt to guess the magic word via yes-or-no questions before the four-minute timer runs out. One player is the Werewolf, who’s secretly working to sabotage everyone else. There are plenty of other roles for everyone and the rules are easy to learn, making it ideal for when your group is really gathered together to gossip and laugh, and won’t necessarily have all their attention tied to the game.
La Ferme Julien Rosé & Pandemic
This is selfish. Pandemic is my favorite board game of all time. I could easily write love letters to it. The La Ferme Julien Rosé was my favorite wine last summer. Pairing them together is completely self-serving, but here we are. If you are a nerd who loves details and rules, Pandemic is for you. What makes it unique is that instead of squaring off against each other, your team must work together to beat the board. You are all fantasy members of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) who are fighting the clock against worldwide outbreak. It’s intense and passes time quickly; there are a dozen more ways to lose than to win. Before you know it, you will be addicted. Which is why this game needs a light bottle of rosé, something that you can drink for hours without getting wine bloat or feeling weighed down.
Tintero Rosso & Clue
The Tintero Rosso is a red wine that’s built for spring. It’s easy to drink and has very little back-biting tannins. It even tastes best slightly chilled. It’s elegant, which is why I think it’s going to go great with a classic game of Clue. Have your friends try out their best British Posh accents as you work to solve who murdered who in the foyer or the office. BONUS: If you haven’t played the game in the last ten years, they’ve updated some of the murder victims and weapons! It’s going to feel like it’s the first time.
Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé & Cranium
Have you ever played Cranium? I can never quite tell how popular this game is, but it was all we played in college. It’s perfect for large groups of people who aren’t scared to make an utter fool of themselves (or who are competitive about using all parts of their brain). Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Charades – Cranium has like four or five other classic board games all rolled into one. It’s hysterical fun, but takes a long time to complete, which is why I paired it with the Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé. It’s simple, clean and easily drinkable – so be sure to pay attention and drink responsibly.
Hanna Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley & Wits and Wagers
The #1 Thing that I hate about Trivial Pursuit is that it’s designed for the knowledge of middle class, middle age, straight white people. I know lots of trivia! None of it is ever in the actual game. That’s why I prefer Wits & Wagers, where you don’t have to get the questions right to win! In this game, you read a trivia question and everyone writes down their guess. Then you each place bets on who you think got closest to the right answer – if you’re feeling particularly confident, you can even bet on yourself. By earning points through betting strategically, you have a shot at winning the entire game, even if you never personally guess the correct answers. It’s also a great way to find out which of your friends thinks you’re a closet baseball freak or physics genius. Enjoy each other and the Hanna Sauvignon Blanc, with its grapefruit and lemon aromas. Drinking it feels like the wine version of smelling fresh cut grass, and who wouldn’t want some of that this time of year?
Simpler Wine Italian Canned Wine & Reverse Charades
Hear me out: I know that “wine in a can” sounds like a terrible idea, but it’s actually brilliant. It’s portable and refreshing. It feels like you’re drinking a 1980s wine cooler in the back of a Ford truck with permed frizzy hair, except instead its 2019 and you’re in the back of a Subaru on your way to the beach. This wine is meant to be light, fun, and most of all on-the-move. Plus, it tastes great. Speaking of “on-the-move”, pair these cans with a game of Reverse Charades – instead of one person silently acting out the word for a team, the goal here is for the entire team to act out the word for a single person – and you’re guaranteed an excellent time.
I was introduced to Codenames durung Acamp 2017 and looooved it.
Never tried reverse charades (except when I learned to park with a stick and 3 people gestured not being helpful at all…) but now I want to play with a cold beer because where I live global warming canceled spring.
reverse charades sounds like my personal hell but this list is PERFECT 💕
This is the perfect guide, thank you!
Hm…. Twilight Imperium (Okay, let’s be realistic about available time and say Eclipse) and… Pasek Cellars Cranberry Wine? Definitely need sugar to stay awake, and alcohol ensures the game gets interesting with mistakes?
Maybe Betrayal at the House on the Hill plus Criss Cross Petite Sirah? The betrayal is inevitable, after all, so why not have the wine reflect it the next day?
Here to second the recommendation for Pandemic. Haven’t played the actual board game version but there is also an app version. That one lets you name the different characters, and thanks to my kiddo’s assistance ours are called Water, Fire, Soap, and Steve.
Werewords and Code Names sound fun too, thanks for the ideas :)
Jesus, how did I never realize that about Trivial Pursuit? I’ve only played the Harry Potter version in recent years, but still…
Yes, wine in a can is great. I’ve done port wine and taboo with friends and it’s a great tie. More so since the one he has is a bit dated and having someone ask who is Paula Jones so we couldn’t do that particular one.
The #1 Thing that I hate about Trivial Pursuit is that it’s designed for the knowledge of middle class, middle age, straight white people.
This is why I hate trivia games*, but it’s also why I’m looking at a lot of trivia games right now. My partner and I are doing the whole “apply for citizenship” thing, and it seems like a less annoying way of learning stuff native baby boomers think make you seem super integrated. But OF COURSE I know the name of some 1970s politician, and who directed that 1980s musical, given that I moved here in 2011!
* Games specifically. I’ve actually been known as a source of apropos trivia all my life, but no one would ever expect me to know pop-culture stuff.
So I’ve never played Reverse Charades, but I can reccommend Reverse Hide and Seek. One person hides. All other try to find person #1. If you find them, you join them. Last one still seeking loses.
And I’d combine it with some (alcoholic) apple cider! Fresh, easygoing, fun!
Yes! I too love reverse hide and seek! Though I’ve always called it Sardines because everybody has to smoosh in with the original hider.
This whole list is marvelous, and I am personally appreciative that you paired Rose with all of my favorite games on the list, because I’m one of those people that can blissfully drink it all summer and never look back.
How about ALL of those wines and the game Viticulture? The whole game is growing planting grapes, harvesting them, making wines, and selling them. The board is beautiful and it’s delightful to play, though complicated enough that playing it tipsy is a bit of a disaster (or so I’ve heard…)
This is an excellent list. If you love Pandemic, have you had a chance to play Pandemic Legacy yet? I very much recommend.
“tastes like a bottle of Sprite went to a very fancy European study abroad” – this is perfect and made me laugh out loud and also want to buy it.
And I’m excited to try out a few of the games on here I haven’t played before!
No idea if this has been published already here, but I will anxiously wait for the weed edition of this…
QUALITY CONTENT. This is honestly amazing Carmen! I’m not a big drinker, so please make this a series with snacking and soft drink ideas – I love board games, so this is excellent.