The corker list: Where to get fancy and amp your winespeak
This new year and new decade, how about making a resolution to up your wine game?
At this point—after 15 years of writing about food—I can pretty much distinguish a good wine from a bad one, appreciate a good finish and recommend basic pairings.
But winespeak is a language all its own: what is a bouquet? What are legs? What is a nose? What are tannins? Or, if you’re advanced in wine tasting: what do you mean when you say it has hints of leather, or even oak?
Shangri-La Chef’s Table
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of being exposed to some fine wines at the Shangri-la Makati’s Chef’s Table. It’s actually a kitchen converted into a secret dining space for elusive guests, thanks to the informal wine club of Mercedes Benz’s Cesar Virtuoso, finance strategist and now international real estate developer Jaime Panganiban and other distinguished friends.
It was an extravagant evening of exemplary wines, including a 1983 Saint Julien—the Grand Vin de Leoville du Marquis de Las Cases—brought by a distinguished Portugese gentleman. Imagine drinking a wine that is 37 years old! It was concluded by those around the table as beautiful, with its dark ruby core, classy nose and silky smooth tannins.
Another wine served was a 2000 Chateau Montrose. I am personally a big fan of Montrose and cherished every sip, even though it seemed a little less refined than expected of a Montrose.
Turns out, this vintage is recommended to be appreciated after another maybe 8 to 10 years for its full potential. Nevertheless, it still exhibited substance, balance and length as expected of any Montrose.
A surprising contribution from Panganiban was the 2013 Insignia. A Bordeaux-style blend handcrafted by Joseph Phelps, the Insignia is claimed by some as one of the world’s most iconic wines made from the finest grapes from Napa Valley.
I was surprised because most of the wines appreciated that evening were French but Panganiban, who really collects wines, said that it was important to have diversity. He recommended the 2013 over the 2014, describing the former as sensual.
I don’t know if that was the wine talking. In winespeak, that means it is a full-bodied wine with moderate tannins, offering a multilayered mouthfeel and an impactful finish. We paired this with Irish lamb loin and lamb shoulder made extremely tender by chef Sebastian Barcudes.
This experience made me want to encourage everyone to form their own wine club. It does not have to be fancy; and there are no rules.
The wine club of a dear mentor had themes such as Argentinian wines or California wines or Margaux wines —that’s one way to structure your dinner. Another way is to have a food menu and have a bottle of wine to match each course.
You can also join a tasting club: there’s the Cheese Club of the Philippines or the International Wine and Food Society.
It is also highly recommended to check events of wine suppliers. Try visiting The Bevvy along Pasong Tamo Ext., the wine shop of Don Revy Philippines, which hosts wine tastings every now and then.
Their next immediate one is on Feb. 21. An Italian wine supplier will be present to discuss the wines with guests.
Artisan Cellar Door, the elegant space of Artisan Cellars and Fine Foods, Inc., also on Pasong Tamo Ext., holds customized tastings. “We can arrange tastings based on preferences for groups of five and up. If they want a tasting flight of champagne or want to learn about a region like Bordeaux or burgundy or even just wine basics, we can customize the menu and wines based on what clients want,” says Artisan Cellar’s Roxanne Lee.
Wine Depot has a monthly workshop/tasting. I think this is perfect, especially for beginners, as the ambiance is not so intimidating.
According to co-owner Hazel Tolhurst, they also have a more extensive tasting every first Wednesday of the month called Decant Series, conducted by their chief sommelier Daniel Blais. The next Decant series is on Feb. 5, featuring a “Tour of Tuscany,” priced at P1900 per person, inclusive of dinner and a tasting of five wines.
The best, of course, would be to enroll in a legitimate wine class.
According to Bel Castro, associate dean of the College of Hospitality Management at Enderun Colleges, Enderun offers WSET Levels 1 and 2 in wines throughout the year.
WSET or The Wine & Spirit Education Trust is a global organization which arranges courses and exams in the field of wine and spirits. After graduating from Level 2, you will be amazed and proud of your winespeak.
If you care not for class, that’s fine too. Listen to Rox Lee’s advice: “Keep tasting and don’t overthink. Enjoy until you build your palate!”
Tita Trillo of Titania wines and one of the pioneers of wine appreciation in the Philippines shares, “Just start with light reds not aged in oak barrels as these are easy to drink! … Swirl your wine glass and smell the aroma. It evokes red berries and light toast aromas, plus it’s very mellow on the palate.”
But I think I will heed the wise words of Don Revy’s Jojo Vega: “Bring over your friends to the Bevvy!”
Anyone care to join me for a bottle (or ten) of wine?
More from the author at margauxlicious.com. Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram.