At least once a month we play a game in the wine corner at Formaggio Kitchen that we call three bottle monte. The name is an allusion to three card monte, the notorious New York City street game used by scam artists to fleece tourists and other innocents of their pocket money. The aim is to find the queen of hearts among three cards that have been shuffled with bewildering speed.
In the wine version we set out three bottles with their labels in plain sight, but only after we’ve poured their contents into three identical decanters. The player tastes each wine without knowing its identity. The test might be to correctly match each wine to its correct bottle, pick the chardonnay out from among three whites, or maybe just say which of the three is not like the others. There are lots of ways to set it up. Most people are not winners, of course, but that doesn’t seem to dampen enthusiasm. The purpose of the game isn’t to embarrass but to educate – and have some fun along the way.
Thinking it was high time we challenged Chris to play our favorite wine game on-air, we presented him with an interesting find-the-odd-man-out problem: to identify the one wine of three that “does not exist.” The trio consisted of two off-the-shelf single-varietal wines (a generic Beaujolais made from the gamay grape and a Spanish wine vinified with tempranillo fruit) plus one that I created myself by mixing the first two in equal proportions. The result was a blended wine that for various reasons does not and could not (under any reasonably foreseeable circumstances) exist.