Announcing Grape Madness

Basketball H & K Wine Bottle HolderI like sports, I like wine.  Often the two don’t mix but whenever I can I go out of my way to make sure that they do.  So, if I were to ask myself what is the ultimate sporting event on the calendar I would reply hands down that it is March Madness 4 days on opening weekend, upsets and Cinderella stories and overtime and buzzer beaters for all.  It all encapsulates in a single elimination winner take all tournament.  Whoever can win six games in a row cuts down the nets while CBS wraps up its coverage with a montage of highlights from the tournament all set to “One Shining Moment“.

What does this have to do with wine you might ask?  It all started as an innocent comment made by one Daddy Winebucks on my blog some time ago.  From there the power of four imaginations snowballed into a cure for cancer and an end to world hunger before returning to their humble roots.  Once grounded, the rules were hashed out and a plan was hatched.  Now after months of preparation we are able to greet March with a tournament of our own.  Welcome to Grape Madness.

Say what?  Grape Madness?  That’s right!  Four of us, Eric from Daddy Winebucks, RJ from RJ’s Wine Blog, Marc from Marc’s Muse and I decided to take all the things that make the NCAA tournament such an enjoyable event and apply them to the wine world.

Here’s how it works…

Each of the four bloggers was assigned a store – Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Cost Plus and Bevmo – and a mission to pick out 8 wines from their specific store, for 32 wines in total. The 8 wines are then divided into two brackets of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th seeds. Each seed level is governed by the retail price of the wine:

  • 1st seed: $12 – $20
  • 2nd seed: $8 – 12
  • 3rd seed: $5 – $8
  • 4th seed: $5 and under

Wines will be all reds, tasted blind and scored on the 100 point scale. In cases when multiple bloggers are scoring a wine, the scores will be aggregated. The winner of each match-up will be the wine with the maximum composite score. Should a tie result, even after totalling up the points, the winner will be determined based on, first, lower prices, then, a coin flip.

For Round 1, we will each blind taste our brackets (8 bottles of wines) and narrow the field to, first, the best four bottles, then, finally, the best two bottles from each store. These two bottles will then move forward to Round 2.

In Round 2, the bloggers will pair up locally (Jason and RJ in San Francisco and Eric and Marc in LA) and taste the eight remaining top wines together, eventually narrowing it to the best wine of each blogger’s grouping, thus creating the Final Four. The Final Four will then be tasted by each blogger and together we will anoint the first annual champion of Grape Madness.

Which store do you think I am covering?  How did you guess Trader Joe’s?  I set a rule for myself of all new wines.  The Grape Madness home page shows my selection.  While you’re their take a look at the field, find a sleeper you like and then head over to the contest page and fill out your own bracket.  We’re aiming for a thousand participants, who wants to be first?

Stay tuned for more coverage tomorrow.  I’ll start with a closer look at my picks…

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions or thoughts on Grape Madness and good luck with your picks!