Dos and Don’ts of Wine Appreciation
As part of its ongoing series on arts, culture and lifestyle, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) presented a lecture to its members entitled “Appreciating the Taste and Bouquet of Wine: Beyond Sipping, Swishing and Drinking”.
Leading the conference is Julius “Jay” Labrador, president of the Philippines branch of the International Wine and Food Society and an active member of the Philippines branch of Chaine de Rotisseurs, the oldest culinary society in the world.
“Wine is the fermented juice of grapes. Grapes contain all the ingredients needed to make wine in a compact package. There is enough sugar in the juice of the grapes and there is yeast on the skin of the grape which acts on the sugar in the juice to produce alcohol,” Labrador explained.
He further shared that wines can be classified according to origin (new world or old world), flavors (sweet or dry), enrichment (fortified or unfortified), sparkling or not, color, grapes and quality.
“All of this can be combined. For example, you can have an old world, dry, unfortified, non-sparkling red wine made from pinot noir from a grand cru vineyard,” he said. note.
There are six most important grape varieties for wine and these are the so-called noble grape varieties. The three noble white grape varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Chardonnay, while the noble red grape varieties are Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
“They are called noble because most of the best wines in the world are made from these grapes and are also among the most commonly planted varieties.”
Meanwhile, Labrador also discussed classifications of “cru” – a French word that translates to the growth or place where the wine is grown that also best describes the quality of the wine. In addition, he also talked about the parts and shapes of wine bottles and wine glasses, as well as decanting a wine and how to properly fill a wine glass.
When it comes to ideal serving temperatures for wine, Labrador shared that red wines are typically served at 15 degrees Celsius, white wines at 12 degrees Celsius, and champagne or sparkling wine at 10 degrees Celsius.
“I personally prefer to serve wines a degree or two cooler than recommended as they heat up quickly as the ambient temperature in the Philippines is rather high.”
Finally, food and wine pairings are also discussed. As many know, classic pairings include red wines with red meat, white wines with seafood, champagne with oysters. But for advanced ideas, he advised: “If you have sweet or umami food, there is bitterness, sourness, astringency as well as alcohol burn which will increase in wine, while the richness and sweetness of the food will be diminished. If your food is acidic, then the richness, sweetness will tend to increase in a wine while the acidity will seem to decrease.”
“Salt is another flavor that is good for wine. It increases the richness and sweetness of a wine, while decreasing bitterness, acidity and astringency. Unfortunately, the bitterness of foods decreases the bitterness of wine,” he added.
Generally, the food will modify the wine. It will rarely be the other way around. Match the weight of food and the weight of wine, then one can contrast or reflect the flavor of food to wine. Labrador also warned to be wary of spicy or peppery foods as they amplify the heat of alcohol and can flatten the flavor of a wine.
“These rules are not limited to Western food and can apply to any cuisine. Ultimately, eat and drink whatever you want. You are doing this to please yourself, not others,” finally said Labrador.