We returned to a familiar theme last week and played the game I call Three Bottle Monte at the tasting table in the wine shop where I work. The bottles and their labels are on display, but their contents have been poured into three identical decanters.
The challenge is to taste the wine from each decanter and match it with the bottle it came from. Most people are not winners, of course, but that doesn’t seem to dampen enthusiasm.
During some down time I started thinking about why I named the game after a notorious scam played on city streets all over the world by shady characters and their partners in crime (called shills) who pose as ordinary schnooks absorbed in the game that are from time to time seen to win (the better to attract more schnooks).
The thought occurred to me that maybe Three Bottle Monte is a too-close-for-comfort metaphor for the deceptive practices that dog the wine trade and have from the beginning. [Read more…]