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Red, red wine as corporate gifts

/ 01:10 AM November 16, 2014
CHEESE of different makes and sizes

CHEESE of different makes and sizes

Wine has become the go-to gift for many in the corporate world.

I remember seeing a roomful of wines last Christmas season at the office of a lawyer friend, ready to be delivered to his many clients. I also remember cringing at his wine selection and felt sorry for the recipients who—if they did drink this—would have to endure this tasteless token wine.

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The impression is that good wine is expensive. For the best wines, sure, that is true. First growth wines, classified as the best in the Bordeaux region of France, can set you back as much as over P70,000 for a bottle at Wine Story. Certain vintages may even cost you more than that.

But here’s the good news: With the global wine industry thriving and competition growing, not to mention the world economy slumping, there are so many affordable wines now, including French wines, that may not be first or even fifth growth in classification, but cannot be called tasteless tokens either.

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So the challenge is how to choose, as one can easily drown in the rows of wine at a wine store. It is especially challenging because the only way to find out whether a wine is good or not is to taste it.

Some have formed Wine Clubs. You can form your own, too. A lovely wine club I have had the honor of joining for a few dinners makes tastings theme-based, then everyone BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) under the theme, whether expensive or “accessible” (meaning cheap but not bad at all).

FRENCH invasion: Sofitel brought in 101 kinds of cheese from France for Bastille Day. Some stocks are still at the Spiral Cheese Room where you can now have wine and cheese pairing classes on Sundays.

FRENCH invasion: Sofitel brought in 101 kinds of cheese from France for Bastille Day. Some stocks are still at the Spiral Cheese Room where you can now have wine and cheese pairing classes on Sundays.

Another way to get to know your wines is to attend wine tasting events of wine distributors. The Wine Depot has wine tastings for members on Wednesdays to introduce the wines they carry (visit winedepot.com.ph to find out how to become a member). Biased wine snobs have their preferred distributors but I would argue that Wine Depot is a good way for wine virgins to learn about wines as they carry very affordable yet well-rated Old World and New World wines, the ratings specified on their shelves. (I got a very young Bordeaux at half-off for just over P200 a few days ago!)

For the more advanced wine drinkers, especially those who prefer French wines, head over to Sofitel every Thursday where Le Bar, which kind of serves as the lobby lounge, has a French wine and cheese buffet. It is literally a buffet, where there are wine and cheese stations and you can drink and cheese-out all you can! The great thing about it is that each station has a guide who will tell you about what you are drinking.

Attending a Sofitel wine buffet a few Thursdays ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the very tall Sake Weima, owner and wine maker of AIX (aixrose.com). He explained that Filipinos should drink more rose, as it is perfect for our weather. A rosé is a type of wine that lacks the color from the grape skins so while it’s from red grapes it doesn’t classify as red wine. A sip of this wine makes you realize that he is right because it is light and refreshing, great for lunch or merienda. Have it in place of fancy champagne while the sun is up.

At the next station, a very charming Sophie Zoll, representing Wine Story, introduced us to the wines of Hugel and Fils. She walked us through how to pair the wines she was introducing. The Hugel Gewürztraminer, she explained, a white wine with lychee, honey and kumquat notes, is perfect with Chinese food. Pair it with duck or braised pork. Mental note to executives: this is perfect for all your Filipino-Chinese partners and clients! The Hugel Gentil, meanwhile, will go well with sushi and sashimi.

Upon reaching the station of AWC Philippines’ Edouard Vauthier, who was about to make his pitch that Clarendelle wines are the affordable version of Prince Robert of Luxembourg’s Chateau Haut-Brion wines, Straits Wines Julian Gagliardi popped up and teased, “If you want real wines, come over here” (to his station). He presented us with an easy Malbec that we would happily have had all night.

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The wine buffet has 15 featured wines from Bordeaux, Alsace, Burgundy, Languedoc and Provence. These can be paired with 18 artisanal French cheeses (as well as a few French-style Malagos cheese proudly made in Davao).

The biggest revelation from the wine and cheese buffet? A lof of the wines served can be purchased for less than P1,000 a bottle.

Conclusion: A little sip can go a long way. It’s such a shame for Rolex-wearing executives in chauffeured Navigators to give characterless wines to their partners and clients.

Grab a few notes from these wine tasting events and show your clients that even if your wallet is sealed with Epoxy, you still have taste.

Sofitel Manila

Call 8326988 or 5515555.

Wine and Cheese Buffet at Le Bar. Thursdays 6 to 9 p.m. until Nov. 27. Wine Tasting Brunch at Spiral on Sundays 12:30 to 3 p.m. Private Wine and Cheese Tasting at Spiral. Sundays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for P1,500 net.

More at margauxlicious.com. Follow the author: @margauxsalcedo on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

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TAGS: cheese, Drink, Sofitel Manila, wine
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