A Drink With Dragons: Game of Rhones

It started as a bit of fun but now Game of Rhones is an international (NZ counts as international, right?) wine juggernaut that will visit seven cities across Australasia this year.

“To be honest, the first year we did it as a LOL,” says organiser Dan Sims of Bottle Shop Concepts, who are behind other wine events such as Wine Day Out and Pinot Palooza. “The next thing we know we’re in seven cities.” Game of Rhones returns to Adelaide with 20 wineries showcasing 100 wines at Published Art House on Sunday, May1. “As with all of our events, we don’t’ say, ‘Come and try 100 Australia/New Zealand premium wine producers who specialise in cool climate, organic, sustainable viticulture to produce terroir-driven wines of fruit purity’. We say, ‘Come to Game of Rhones’. Or ‘Come to Pinot Palooza’. Bottle Shop Concepts’ mantra is to take the ‘wank out of wine’ and Sims says they don’t market an event such as Game of Rhones like a wine tasting. “We market it like a TV show or music festival. Why? Because it creates common ground. It makes it fun and enjoyable. Plus, we focus on either a small range of grape varieties (Game of Rhones) or one (Pinot Palooza). It’s a more controlled approach to learning about wine rather than the scatter gun where there is almost too much to comprehend. “I’d also like to think we create an approachable, social and safe environment anchored in hospitality,” he says. “Most at Bottle Shop Concepts are ex-hospo [hospitality] so we take the approach that we’re doing a ‘pop up’ restaurant. “But all in all, it’s about having fun first. It’s pretty hard to take wine too seriously when the winemakers are in costume.” The success of Bottle Shop Concept events such as Pinot Palooza, Wine Day Out and Game of Rhones mirrors a shift in people’s perception and approach to wine. People now have fun with wine and experiment with different varieties and producers. “In the three years of Bottle Shop Concepts, we’ve seen this interest grow first hand,” Sims says. “It’s about making the default setting for wine as fun first, facts second. There are a number of studies and reports that have come out recently talking about how wine is attracting millennials and (especially) women. We’ve seen this from the start with over 50 percent of our attendees under the age of 35. In total, 60 percent of attendees are women with this increasing to over 65 percent in the under 35 demographic. “People have never before been more interested in wine. They just want to learn/experience it the same way in which they drink it; socially. This is what we focus on. Aside from the 20 wine producers, Africola’s Duncan Welgemoed will be on the pans and responsible for the food on the day. “It’s more his own brand than Africola,” Sims says. “He’s working on the menu as we speak but yes, there will be dead animals. Perfect for a vinous feast.” Sims says Pinot Palooza will return to Adelaide on August 6 at Queen’s Theatre. “This is the third year we’ll be in Adelaide and I am constantly blown away by how much the food and wine offering has not only grown but gone from strength-to-strength,” he says. Game of Rhones Published Arthouse Sunday, May 1, 1pm-6pm Cost: $60 gameofrhones.com.au

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