Toast 2006: The Art of Winemaking at Wine Depot

Bottoms up with Toast 2006: The Art of Winemaking at Wine Depot
By Walter Ang
December 6, 2006
Philippine Daily Inquirer

In his book "The Metrosexual Guide to Style," Michael Flocker concisely articulates a great way of looking at libations: Beer is easily consumed, fun to indulge in and comes in a variety of brands. There are light beers, dark beers, cheap beers and top-of-the-line beers. Wine is more complex and is more of an acquired taste. Defined by region and produced with a much greater attention to detail, wines are multifaceted and contain subtleties and distinctions that are not always immediately recognizable. Of course, there are also cheap wines.

That being said, he also provides a great analogy for both, likening beer to movies and wine to films. If that's the case, then the recent wine festival, "Toast 2006: The Art of Winemaking," was a veritable Metro Manila Filmfest for wine-lovers.

Organized by WineDepot, the festival featured booths of the different labels and wineries that they carry. Taking over the Rockwell tent, the festival gathered wine aficionados despite the balmy weather. Attendees got to taste all the wine they could while chatting up representatives of different wineries.

Now, wine is one of those things that many 2bU! readers might only have a fleeting encounter with. The occasional wedding reception, a birthday party here and there, or a fancy date when you're out to impress or be impressed. After all, it's so much easier to order a keg of beer if you're out with friends or to get your buzz via cocktails.

However, trying out something new and gaining a better appreciation or perspective for it is always a good thing to do. When it comes to food and drink, there's no other way to learn about it than to literally take it in.

Trying it out
For wines, you can, of course, read up a little bit about it before you buy a bottle or two. You can try out your selections at home with family and friends (that way, you can make faces and be as loud as you want with your commentary). One good trick is to buy two kinds so you can compare. The next time, get a new one to compare with the one you liked.

When it comes to red wine, the usual kinds are cabernet, chianti, merlot, shiraz, pinot noir, and zinfandel. The last two are considered more "light and sweet" and are a good first step for those who want to begin exploring the universe of wines. Not only that, zinfandels can be usually paired with easy, everyday meals like pizza, spaghetti with meat sauce, barbecue chicken, steaks, and burgers.

At one of the wine-tasting classes at the festival, Angus Lilley of Ravenswood Winery (based in Sonoma County, California) shared copious notes and insights on five different zinfandels namely Big River, Barricia, Belloni, Dickerson, and Teldeschi.

Lilley explained that where a wine is made greatly influences the way it tastes. Apparently, California has diverse winegrowing environments, such as varying soils and climates, that confer different grape characters. The way a wine is made also influences the outcome. How a wine is aged, in French oak barrels for example, and how long it is aged also creates different varieties of wine. Thus, a wide varietiey of zinfandels.

The possible combinations and permutations have given birth to Ravenswood's thee tiers of zinfandels: Vineyard Designates (select and limited production), County Series (a blend of modern and classic winemaking techniques), and Vinters Blend Series (wines for everyday drinking). As Lilley uncorked and espoused the differences of the five featured labels, attendees of the class partook and experienced a taste of each.

Mini tasting sessions
The good news is that wine festivals aren't the only time that wine tastings are held. In the three WineDepot showrooms in Makati, Pasig, and Alabang, a nominal fee of P150 lets anyone have a mini-wine tasting session of their own. Advice on what kinds of wine you might like come courtesy of the staff.

"Our staff are well trained to answer any question. We even send them abroad to the different wineries for training," shared Hazel Buenas of WineDepot. "All the wines we carry also have easy-to-read identity cards that note the taste, let's say sweet or spicy, as well as what kinds of food can be best paired with a particular wine. This makes it a bit easier for first-timers to narrow down their choices."

In their efforts to make wine more accessible to a wider audience, WineDepot has a text-message service for updates on featured labels, as well as a website,, that offers online shopping, information on highlighted selections, current promos, and a newsletter to boot. A prime launch pad for further adventures with wine.

Call WineDepot at 889-4889.

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