March Madness Official Rules

By Jesse on February 11, 2007


For those who couldn’t make Wednesday night, it’s not too late to join the most exciting and dynamic wine tasting tournament for 25-and-under that LA has ever seen!  We’re done with our first week of March Madness, and here’s what we have to look forward to:

Week #2 — Syrah
Week #3 — Riesling
Week #4 — Pinot Noir
Week #5 — Chardonnay
Week #6 — Cabernet Sauvignon
Week #7 — Blind white tasting
Week #8 — Blind red tasting

Each week, we bring bottles of the given varietal from all around the world.  This past week, for example, we had Sauvignon Blanc from France, from California, and from New Zealand, as well as one bottle from Chile.  At the beginning of each meeting, one person volunteers to donate the mystery bottle, and their wine is placed in a brown bag.  The only requirements for being the donor are 1) no one else knows where your wine is from, and 2) there’s at least one other bottle from the same region, so that we’ve tasted at least one example.

We taste the wines, paying special attention to what characteristics are typical of what regions.  Finally, we bring out the mystery bottle, still in the brown bag, and the donor pours tastes for everyone.  In complete silence, we taste the wine, and then we write the region we believe it to be from on slips of paper, which are collected and put aside.  Once everyone’s submitted their guess, we discuss the wine and the donor reveals the bottle.  The points are then tallied — one point for each correct guess.  Incorrect guess results in no points, but points are not deducted.  The donor receives one-half point as compensation for not being able to participate in that day’s event.

Following the six-week regular season, points are tallied, and seeds are assigned for the two-week playoff period.  Seeds really mean nothing at all… but think of the bragging rights!!  The most points any player can have after the six weeks is, of course, six points, and the player retains those points as they head into the playoffs.

The final two weeks are entirely blind tastings consisting of the three whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Chardonnay) one week, followed by the three reds (Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon) the next week.  This is where the real points are accumulated.  One point is awarded for guessing the correct varietal; again, no points deducted for incorrect guess.  Depending on how many people show up, a player could conceivably accumulate ten or fifteen points in one meeting.  Here’s the twist: if a player wishes to guess the region in which the wine was made, they are free to do so.  Correct guess results in one extra point (i.e. a correct guess of “Syrah from California” gets two points).  An incorrect region guess, however, results in the deduction of one-half point when paired with a correct varietal guess (i.e. if it’s Syrah from California, and you guess Syrah from France, you receive only a half-point for your correct varietal guess).  Guessing an incorrect region when the varietal was also incorrect results in no deduction — it’s just no points since you got the varietal wrong.

As I said, it’s not too late to start playing!  We have five more weeks of regular-season guessing.  It’s ideal to attend as many meetings as possible so that when the playoffs come around, the tastes of these various varietals will be fresh in your mind.

Final thing — CAN ANYONE HOST THIS WEEK?  We neglected to figure that out last week.  My guess is that Tuesday is probably best, since Wednesday is reserved for lovers… any takers?  Let me know ASAP.

As soon as we figure out who’s hosting, I’ll be sending out an e-mail regarding this week’s meeting.  Again, it’ll likely be on Tuesday, and the varietal will be Syrah (also called Shiraz).