Sofitel Manila's Wine Appreciation Class

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pouring a glass of wine or champagne feels so right. Celebrating special moments with friends and family, that's just bliss! A few nights ago, we went to Sofitel Manila's Spiral and got a special Wine Appreciation Class by their Somellier's. I've been educated quite a bit from cooking, dining and tasting events; but this one really schooled me. They also delved on wine pairing and taught us a thing or two about regions where these rich, liquid wonders come from.. and how we all can enjoy it!

First things first, we had to take note of our own experience so they handed us over a pamphlet containing all the names of the wine we're about to taste. Seeing the terminologies indicated on the bottles was already making me a little dizzy. My French language class didn't come into effect here but I was in the right path understanding Burgundy, it's Merlot and the region of Bordeaux.

Then we had a short briefing on how the sections were divided inside Spiral


Damien Marchenay, a Frenchman leads Sofitel's Wine experts (who are also French) as F&B Director of Sofitel Manila's Spiral

Burgundy and Bordeaux are regions in France. If the term is used on bottles, it basically means that the wine produced is from that region. This goes the same with Alsace, Champagne, Jura, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire Valley, Lorraine, Madiran, Provence, Rhône and Savoie. There are also some sub regions and smaller ones inside these areas but I'll bore you if I include that. It goes the same with other wine producing countries.

We didn't start off with Western wine though.

They showed us one of the more popular brands of Sake (rice wine) from Japan. The Japanese Chef went out and explained to us that they have special ones made by small Sake masters in their region. They have special rice grains that grows in the same place which they get this from. There are families that have done this for ages and he's proud of its heritage. He also showed us some photos from his hometown and said you can still see the artisans do it even in these modern times. It was really good. He mentions this particular Sake should be served cold. Otherwise, they have sake bottles that are usually dipped in street food containers that regularly sells it on his neighborhood. Rustic, but very nice and smooth.

Then we proceeded to another section of Spiral's ateliers. This is on the Western Section.

Bouchard Pere & Fils is a Pinot Noir from Burgundy dated 2011. It's red and fruity, can be paired with red meat or even pizzas if you dare.

Dourthe No.1 AOC Rouge from Bordeaux, France dated 2011. Deeper red, very intense and a bit bitter. It's smells good and it can be paired with cheese room favorites and cold cuts. Mmm....

Then off to the Asian Ateliers we went!

Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc, this one's from New Zealand and dated 2012. It's got really nice colors, pale yellow that's got a hint of pale green. It's a bit floral, sweet smelling and has got a touch of fruitiness on the aftertaste. Complex, yes, but I still like it.

AIX Rose from Coteaux D'Aix En Provence France. It has pink hues or a tint of salmon color. Intense, smelled like sweet flowers. It's got a bit of acidity but our somellier says this comes from his region. He admits that he doesn't drink everyday but if its a special occasion,  they usually drink this with tons of ice in a large glass. Then they chill around and do what normal people do. Oh by the way, our great Somellier that evening is Tanguy (pronounced Tawnjee) who is a Restaurant Manager in Sofitel. Pretty darn nice chap!

AIX is also available in huge bottles. It's perfect for parties or large dinners. You can also choose from among 150 variants of wines in their cellars. It's already chilled and they're just waiting for you to grab it.

Madfish is a Shiraz from Australia dated 2009. This one is my favorite among the more stronger wines in the bunch. It's rich and dark. A bit oaky and a tad bitter. I like that more on wines. It can be paired with some Asian dishes of the more spicy-savory flavors. Still perfect for red meats.

Then we had something for Desserts.

This one is the most mouthful to pronounce. It's got German origins. This is the Alsace Gewürztraminer dated 2011. Intensely spicy on its notes. If you're having chocolates, nuts or just about anything sweet, this is a pretty good pair for that. Contrary to what I was trying to see before, wines are supposed to be paired opposite of what it actually tastes like. If you have something intensely flavored, get something more subtle for a wine. Then if you have something not that complex, get some sweeter wine and you'll be fine.

On the last part, we were all surprised that there are actually local Philippine made wines on their list. Refmad Dragonfruit Wine, Adam's Bugnay Wine and Dielles Melomel Fruit Brand Wine. Most Filipinos LOVE the Refmad Dragonfruit Wine. I on the other hand love the Dielles Melomel because it had Guyabano in it. It's exotic and really good in my humble opinion. I'd highly recommend that or the Shiraz if you are after something more intense.

As they say, nobody can really tell which one is the best because everybody else has their own standards. It's truly debatable and depends on the person holding up the wine glass. I made that statement up LOL. Anyway, there is some kind of truth to that right? You be the judge. Go on and have dinner or lunch at Sofitel Manila's Spiral. The Wine Appreciation Classes are available on Sunday brunches so make sure you ask and be scheduled on those days.

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