This New French Wine Monopoly Game Is A Little Crazy

I’m a bit upset I hadn’t heard about this last November when it went on sale.

Look at the playing board for this new French wine edition of Monopoly:

wine monopoly


How fun is this? One simply must know immediately which vineyards occupy Boardwalk and Park Place squares, and which are the lowly beginner squares.

That’s where the fun begins. Woefully undervalued, struggling Muscadet in the starting blocks? Absolutely, makes sense.

But, Corton Charlemagne as the highest echelon of wine, aka Boardwalk? We need to talk. And things just get worse once you scrutinize regions in between.

Take heed, folks: Côtes de Provence, the Jura and Jurançon are each worth more than Bordeaux. Oh, and Margaux is distinct from Bordeaux.

Exactly who cooked up this valuation hierarchy? Hasbro leveraged a ‘famous’ professional wine magazine La Vigne, part of the France Agricole family of magazines. France Agricole has a wildly esoteric range of farming magazines, specializing in dairy farming, vegetable farming, tractor talk, and food factories, which remind me of Matt Groening’s impossibly specialized satirical magazine covers from the 80s.

Struggling Artist magazine by Matt Groening
He made amazing comics prior to The Simpsons, you know.

Obviously Hasbro wasn’t bringing the big guns to the table in terms of wine valuation data, so you’d think (Click to Read more)

Wine and Mortality, pt 3

"As soon as I realized I was mortal, I started to worry. I set a goal to see if we could make drugs that would target the diseases of aging in my lifetime."
“As soon as I realized I was mortal, I started to worry.” Dr David Sinclair, quoted by NYTimes, July 8 2007.

This is the third post in the Wine and Mortality series. Previous articles examined our penchant for aged wine and wine collecting in light of our mortality.

Can you remember the resveratrol craze of the early 2000s, when wine was touted as the Fountain of Youth?

Forever obsessed with the French paradox (“Why aren’t those goddamn French fat like us when they’re constantly eating butter and fat, and drinking to boot?!”), American researchers identified a compound in the antioxidant-laden skins of red grapes which was suddenly touted as an explanation.

And before you knew it — even before a sufficient toxicological study! — the founder of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals was boldly ingesting resveratrol capsules and encouraging family and coworkers to do so, spurred on by results that shocked the world: purportedly, mice injected with ginormous amounts of resveratrol were able to exercise twice as long as normal, with even healthier hearts directly afterwards1.

697px-Resveratrol.svgResveratrol was as “close to a miraculous molecule as you get”2.  Here’s how the story went: grape skins contain polyphenols, antioxidants which are in essence antibiotics. These antibiotics are there for a distinct purpose: to protect the grape from fungal attack. Fungus attacks the grape, the grape detects it, and a chemical reaction is triggered which ‘activates’ the defensive chemical within the grape skin. Obviously resveratrol levels are quite low in the thin-skinned Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grapes which undergo noble rot3. Since fungal infections are more common in cooler climates, grapes grown in cooler climates have a higher concentration of resveratrol4.

As is the case with so many other pharmaceutically effective drugs, as luck would have it, there is a wholly unintended positive effect on the human body5. Obviously the grapes didn’t via some empathic moment of evolution one day dream of helping their human caretakers trump their biological clocks. The hypothesis advanced by Sirtris Pharmaceutical was that the chemical compound resveratrol activated (Click to Read more)

  1. []
  2. []
  3. “During noble rot development in Sauvignon or Sémillon grapes from the Sauternes area, levels of trans-astringin, trans-resveratrol, trans-piceid, and pallidol are quite low.” []
  4. Kopp P. Resveratrol, a phytoestrogen found in red wine. A possible explanation for the conundrum of the ‘French paradox’? European Journal of Endocrinology 138:619-620, 1998.  []
  5. It is thought that millions of undiscovered therapeutic chemical compounds which are far too costly to chemically synthesize exist in the Amazonian rainforest, and are being wiped out every day with deforestation. We’re pissing away our medicine chest. []

Wine and Mortality, pt 2

Geddy Lee and His Wine
When will Geddy Lee have enough wine?

My last article examined our penchant for aged wine in light of our mortal condition. Next up: wine collecting.

A spurt of adrenalin accompanies any major wine purchase.

Perhaps the same holds true for any number of things that aren’t as quotidian as bleach, garbage bags, or canned beans.  But even when compared to other luxury consumer goods, somehow, it’s an entirely different emotional landscape with wine.

How does wine somehow outstrip other purchases?

It’s not unlike buying a book which one looks forward to reading. “I will get to know this wine”, one seems to assert — conscious or not — “because I’m going to ingest it and ponder it”. This leads to one of wine’s noblest pleasures: vicarious travel and education, through wine.  What does one eat in this region that might accompany this wine? What do things taste and feel like in this corner of the world, through the lens of this bottle?

Sure, wine is a drug. But wine is not simply a bottle of characterless vodka, which cannot speak of place and which offers a stiff, pharmacological dose of ethanol. Wine with a sense of place is so much more than just a bottle o’ booze; there’s a genie in there somewhere which speaks of a different culture. And there’s a historic record of weather and time itself, etched in the liquid — what was the vintage like? What decisions did the winemaker make?

With each bottle purchased, one purchases a tiny lot of joyous futures; one imagines opening the bottle, sampling it, trying it with food, and then watching it change.

Most importantly, there’s a commitment to living life as a collection of experiences implicit in a costly wine purchase (Click to Read more)