Make a bet at the Grand Casino du Vin, learn something new, and maybe win big

THE GRAND Hyatt Manila’s bar, The Cellar, is combining game playing with wine in its Grand Casino du Vin wine game night, held every first and third Wednesday of every month, starting on Feb. 1.

The next Grand Casino du Vin is in two weeks.

BusinessWorld attended a preview of the games on Jan. 18. One is handed a bag of gaming chips at entry with which one can bet on three themed games. The first one we played was The Aromas of Wine. A host takes a bottle of scent, ranging from pine to vanilla (there are 50 to choose from), and guests are prompted to match the scent with a picture on a board. It is a lot harder than it sounds (we mistook lychee for rose; and vanilla with strawberry), and many people cheerfully lost at this game.

The next game, The Wine Regions, has wine (supplied by AWC Philippines) poured from concealed bottles, which players should taste and smell. Judging from one’s senses, one needs to pinpoint which country it comes from. We had a hard time, but we leaned towards placing our chips on the map of France every time something smelled a little bit too strong.

The easiest game for us was The Type of Wine, where wine was poured into special black glasses. Judging from taste and scent alone, one should guess whether one is drinking a white, a rosé, or a red. The host then pours the wine into a clear glass, which is held up to the light. Many players frequented this game table, and this reporter doubled his winnings there by the end of the night.

The prizes for winning are determined by the number of chips one has on hand: because prizes are auctioned off at the end, with the chips serving as payment. That night, we watched a bottle of champagne, a massage at the Grand Hyatt Manila Spa, a dinner at The Cellar, and a stay at a Grand Hyatt Manila suite go to other people (we only had 66 chips, and the bottle of champagne went for more than that). What we did see people doing was pooling their winnings together: the stay at the suite went to a group who had 450 chips between them.

Grand Hyatt Manila’s GM Gottfried Bogensperger was going around that evening, sneaking chips into people’s hands (but only if you promised to go all or nothing). The Cellar was always meant to host games night he said: “The Cellar was conceptualized like a cellar — a basement. You invite your friends, and it’s almost like a man-cave. You play games, you eat great food, and you have good wine.”

The setting prompted them thinking up of a game night, and they tried out the games during a staff member’s farewell party. “People still have fun and enjoy each other, even when they don’t know each other,” he said. That, and the wine education gives the evening an edge. “They learn something along the way,” he explained.

“It’s the excitement of learning and competing. It’s not the gaming component. You compete with your friends: that you know something more than they do.”

Mr. Bogensperger talked about all the fun one could have at the gaming tables, but also discussed why they do it: “We, the hospitality industry people, we are not here to serve you. We are here to create memories and experiences. When we say that, we have to do something. We have to mean it.

“We like to do business in terms of having fun with each other. Let’s enjoy it. It’s more fun to make fun memories and experiences you can take home.”

Entrance to the Grand Casino du Vin costs P3,000 net per person, which includes a four-course set menu with a glass of red and white wine, and 12 gaming chips. The event will be held every first and third Wednesday of the month from 5 to 11 p.m. — Joseph L. Garcia