The pandemic sparked our collective interest in sourdough breadmaking, Dagona coffee whipping, Peloton cycling, online movie dating and puzzling. Not only did Wordle take the world by storm, but for many puzzle manufacturers, interest – and sales – skyrocketed, by 300, 400 and 500 percent, almost instantly. It’s no wonder. Exhausted by a devasting 24-7 news cycle, people immersed themselves in puzzles, which provided mental distraction and exercise for anxious, racing brains. The pandemic puzzle phenomenon echoes the puzzle craze of the 1930s. Then, people craved distraction too and affordable entertainment given the devastating unemployment rates. With climbing inflation and COVID still headlining our news, we’re betting the puzzle trend isn’t slowing anytime soon. In fact, the latest puzzles to hit store shelves are so fantastic – artful and educational – we predict we’ll be passionately puzzling for the foreseeable future.
One example of today’s premium puzzle experience is Water & Wines. The Swedish company is the brainchild of partners Yamit Viitaoja, a young sommelier, and her puzzle-loving friend, Mathilde Iwar. Upon graduating from sommelier school, Viitaoja found her industry at a pandemic-induced standstill, so she joined forces with her friend to create a line of puzzles that celebrates the beauty, history and art of wine.
Water & Wines puzzles are indeed works of art. With a small international team, which includes a Finnish Master of wine, sommeliers, wine journalists and educators, the company offers up a collection of exceptional Old World and New World wine-themed puzzles. Most of them depict a wine-making country – from Italy and France to South Africa and New Zealand – but there is also a Scotland puzzle to celebrate whisky, and the latest 1000-piecer comes just in time for New Year’s Eve: Champagne. This latest puzzle highlights the main wine-making regions of the iconic region, the Grand Cru villages and the area’s rich history, plus Champagne factoids and food-pairing tips.
Water & Wines puzzles are all hand-illustrated by artists and come jam-packed with historical, geographical, mythological and oenological facts and details that any wine lover or wannabe-sommelier will thrill for. Each puzzle purchase also includes a corresponding, full-sized poster and a stand for the puzzle box to make it easier to work through those 1,000 pieces.
The company takes a modern and mindful approach to puzzle-making, start to finish in the production process. Female-led, the company is committed to sustainability. Its puzzles are made from locally sourced EU recycled materials. Additionally, for every Water & Wines item sold, a tree is planted. Monthly donations are also made to Charity Water, an organization which helps improve global access to safe drinking water. “We want to share our passion for oenology in a fun and creative way through beautiful wine jigsaw puzzles,” says the company founders. “We are committed to giving back and have poured our hearts into making puzzles you will feel good about. Joy is our motto in life and business, and it is the feeling we want to inspire [in] you.”
Once you’re placed all of the Spatburgunder and Rieslander pieces in the Germany puzzle and the Pinot Blanc in Paso Robles for the California puzzle, keep an eye out for the next Water & Wines release. Reports are that launches will arrive once or twice a year. Our hope is that a Canada puzzle is on the drawing board. Then we’ll be able to toil away at a beautiful puzzle that pays homage to this country’s fine wine-making regions from B.C.’s Okanagan in the west to Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley in the east.