Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — On a list of things Filipinos are known for, it would be an understatement to say that being wine drinkers probably wouldn’t be at the top, or even make the cut at all. We certainly enjoy our drinks, especially our beer, so it would only make sense that we’d enjoy wine as well.
Drinking is often a social activity, best done with a selection of food. Wine is particularly great not just with snacks, but meals: pairing it with certain textures and tastes in food, when you know what you like and what you’re doing, can be a wonderful experience that makes both the drink and the dish better.
With this, Wine Brothers and San Miguel PureFoods Culinary Center recently took guests on a wine walkabout at the Glass Wine Lounge of Sourdough Café and Deli along Quezon City’s Tomas Morato Avenue. The Australian-inspired food and wine journey took cues from the aboriginal tradition of letting young men explore the world and know it for themselves, the idea being that guests could also discover which wine pairings they like best based on their own tastes. “When you taste the wine and when you taste the food, the flavor of the food should be enhanced,” says Chef Pam Obieta.
If you ask the folks at Wine Brothers Philippines, they’d say that wine is fast becoming a more popular choice among young people when they gather for drinks, made all the better because it’s considered good for you and goes well with trends of health and wellness. The brand, whose Woomera wines are cultivated in vineyards based in New South Wales, Australia, specializes in quality wines crafted for Philippine palates — meaning they’re lighter and sweeter, more refreshing, perfect for the tropical climate.
There are different ways to pair wine and food. Congruent pairing, for instance, is when you put similar flavors together to amplify and balance them, and it’s more common in the West. The preferred pairings in the East tend to be contrasting: sweet and salty, fat and acid. “Spicy food is not easy to pair, but it would go nice with a nice, sweet wine, probably,” Obieta adds.
This wine pairing activity made use of the three variants. There’s the bold red, which holds a flavor profile of red berries, blackcurrant, and red plum, made more rich with vanilla. Red wines tend to go well with red meat, dishes that have been grilled, smoked, and roasted, and hard cheeses.
The dry light white wine is a burst of freshness with lychees and lime, topped off with floral notes. White wine goes well with poultry, fish, mollusks and shellfish, dishes that have been poached and steamed, soft cheeses, greens, beans, and peas.
The rosé is a semi-sweet spritz, perfumed with lilac and rose. Aside from desserts and sweets, rosé goes best with lobster, pork, most cheeses, roots and vegetables, seeds, and grains.
The event began with a grand grazing table showcasing different cheeses, bread and biscuits, nuts, fruits, and meat. Five courses followed, each boasting unique textures and flavors. First is the cheese, with three components: cured egg yolk, cheese foam, and a crunchy topping made with grana padano. Served in a glass, the topping was cracked and mixed into the airy foam, and the faint sweetness, tang, and salt of the cheeses were complemented by the white wine. Next were the scallops with sea urchin mousse, green pea emulsion, and micro arugula, which predictably was best suited to the white.
The “meat pie” tortellini was a send-up to an Aussie classic, this time served as bite-size pieces in soup with chicken consomme and parsley oil. Surprisingly, its subtle salty flavor was brought to life by the rosé, although it also went well with white. The beef tenderloin was served with red wine jus, beet root, potato puree, and asparagus. You’d think it would be a no-brainer to pair it with red, but while the rich dark flavors were indeed harmonious, going for a contrast with the rosé just might be a pleasant surprise as well.
For dessert, there was banoffee bomboloni, filled with banana creme and topped with chocolate ganache, plus lemon cream, toffee, and graham dust on the side. The sourness from the lemon goes nicely with the citrus notes of the white, and rosé is good with anything sweet. The chocolate and toffee, however, are also brilliant with the red.
It really is up to the person on what they think makes the best combination. Wine pairing may require a delicate balance, but it’s not rocket science, either.
“It's a journey of the mind,” says Llena Tan-Arcenas of San Miguel Foods. “It's a time for self-evaluation and discovery. Food and wine pairing can be intimidating for a lot of people, [especially] for the uninitiated, so we want to portray wine drinking as a casual affair. It doesn't always have to be formal.”