Pour decisions: pairing video games and wine
Alcohol is featured in video games, in ways both subtle and over-the-top.
Getting Commander Shepard drunk in every single bar in Mass Effect. Using cocktails to manipulate patrons’ moods in The Red Strings Club. Downing so much beer in Fable that the Hero throws up and earns The Drinking Game Achievement much to your delight. See what I mean?
A few years ago, Pete and I ended up joining a wine club after being introduced to it by a couple of friends at a party. I wouldn’t necessarily say we’ve become experts on the subject since then, but we’ve slowly learnt the kind of tipples we like and are open to trying new varieties.
It therefore seemed like a great idea to book ourselves a couple of places on a virtual wine-tasting experience to celebrate our anniversary last Wednesday. The samples arrived through the post during the week before the date along with a short guide on what we’d be drinking, and we planned to buy enough snacks to get us through the evening without fuzzy heads. But then: COVID-19 finally caught up with us.
Although we’re now feeling much better, we’re not in the best shape to be downing alcohol so our wine-tasting was postponed. Thankfully we’ve managed to get a recording from the night so we can do it in our own time once we’re ready to drink again. In the meantime, it doesn’t stop us reflecting on the wines we’ll be trying at some point: which video games would they best be paired with?
I wouldn’t necessarily say we’ve become experts on the subject, but we’ve slowly learnt the kind of tipples we like.
Ramon de Casar Treixadura 2021
It’s fantastically round and leaves the mouth with a bright flourish of grapefruit. First class with Oysters or claims in a spicy paprika sauce.
This one pairs well with seafood so we need to find a game with a connection to water. I was going to go with Flotsam at first, but the mention of the paprika sauce makes me think that Sea of Thieves may be the better choice. I tried playing it a few years ago with friend-of-the-blog Phil and could see myself getting into the exploration and treasure-hunting side, but things turned ‘spicy’ when we had to deal with a group of horrible players and the experience was soured. What I need is a private server and a bottle of this wine.
Richard Elgin’s Chardonnay 2020
It’s elegant, well balanced and Richard’s finest Chardonnay to date. Pairs effortlessly with poached salmon, braised fennel and new potatoes.
Now for something elegant and balanced. The description here makes this wine sound rather classy, so I think we need a game that’s refined and delicate. Glass Masquerade feels like it could be a good choice as it’s a beautiful title in both sight and sound. Over the course of several hours, the objective is to combine pieces to create stained-glass clocks with themes from around the world while one of the most relaxing soundtracks plays in the background. Could be perfect while drinking a nice glass of wine.
Chateau Saint Hilaire Rosé 2021
Taste every sunray in this fresh drop full of elegant white peach and almond flavours. Your go-to bottle for enjoy alfresco with crisp summer salads.
This description makes me think of bright days, warm sunshine, walks through the woods and picnics. It therefore seems like Eastshade could be a great match. Instead of being a muscly hero on an epic quest to save the world from a disastrous evil, in this RPG you’re a travelling painter who wants to help the island’s inhabitants while capturing their lives on canvas. It became one of my favourite games shortly after I played it in April 2019 and would be a fine accompaniment to a summery rosé.
Jimenez-Landi El Corralon 2020
Brimming with bright aromas of summer strawbs, raspberries and a spicy hint of nutmeg. Crack out the cheese board and savour this beauty with cheese.
Urgh. Cheese. I hate the stuff. But mice don’t feel the same way, so perhaps a video game featuring a little fluffy rodent would do the trick here. How about virtual reality (VR) adventure Moss? We I played this title a few years ago for a GameBlast charity event, and enjoyed it so much that we decided to skip the next game on the schedule and complete it instead. Moss: Book II was released in March but we haven’t got around to trying it yet – Pete can wear the VR headset and be in charge of the controls while I drink the wine.
Domaine du Granit Doré Juliette 2019
Packed full of tongue-tingling red berry flavours and a masterful balance. A great summer red to pair with party nibbles and charcuterie.
Something which goes well at a party and requires a degree of masterful balance? There’s only one game which is going to do the job properly here: KeyWe. This cooperative puzzler stars Jeff and Debra, two kiwi birds working in a post office, and they must flap their way around levers, bells and buttons to get the messages sent on time. Think Overcooked! but more fun and a whole lot cuter. I can only the imagine the mayhem that would ensue if you tried to play this with your partner and a bottle of wine on the side.
Chalk Hill Luna Shiraz 2020
Think dark fruits, a warming lick of spice, creamy walnut flavours and a long velvety finish. Shiraz and lamb is a match made in heaven.
And now we go from the red berries of summer to the hearty dishes of winter with a lovely meal of roast lamb. There’s one particular game I always find myself returning to during the colder months of the year thanks to its depictions of snowy mountains and frost-trolls. Imagine adventuring your way through the landscapes of The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO), stopping to clear out a delve or two while helping a citizen with a weird request, before heading to the nearest inn for a plate of meat and a goblet of wine.
Are wine descriptions are so pretentious, and has being ill and not playing video games recently left me writing some really tenuous posts?
I’m not sure what has struck me the most while drafting this. Is it that wine descriptions are so pretentious, or that being ill with COVID and not playing video games recently has left me writing some really tenuous posts? Regardless, I think the best way to round it off is with a little rhyme created by Pete when I asked him to suggest a title. Wine is fine, especially at game time.