Note: I realised when I wrote the first bit of my article today that I sound like such an old bat. :p
So much has changed in the Manila wine industry since I started in it – whoa, about 14 years ago…?
I still recall my first wine training during my initial foray into the world of F&B, which was conducted by a brand guy from a wine importation company… I don’t recall the wine or the speaker, but I recall the very simple, albeit rudimentary session. That afternoon, I learned about the existence (and differences) of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz…
In fact, after my WSET certification I realised how a) wrong some of the information was, and b) underexposed Manila was to wines 14 years ago, but nobody knew better.
All that mattered was that we, as people working in the frontlines, were able to sell the bottles, knowledge (or lack thereof) of food and wine pairing be damned.
At the time (for further perspective, I was working in a hotel in the Manila Bay Area), we were met with the following statements (roughly translated to English for our international readers):
- “Which one’s sweet? I want that.”
- “I don’t want anything strong.”
- “Merlot is sweet, right? Cabernet Sauvignon is bitter, I don’t want that. Give me a Merlot.”
- “Cha… Chat-tew… Margauks? Hay, so hard to pronounce. Never mind, Give me the Spanish one. Ooh, it’s also cheap! I like that.”
- “I saw that in a supermarket so it must be good.”
- “I saw that in a supermarket so it must be bad.”
- “Screwcap wines are so terrible!”
Anyway, fast forward to 14 years later and, man… I can’t believe how different things are.
My personal theory is that, initially at least, the wave of pinoys being exported as manpower to different hotels/restaurants all over the world exposed us to the fact that, hey… There’s more to life beyond sugary, diabetes-inducing two-buck chucks.
We now know what a Cabernet Sauvignon is and, heck… There is a purpose to why it’s tannic.
We even know now that Mompo is sacramental wine (true story, I wish I was kidding).
On top of the international, multicultural exposure to wine, we began to understand the purpose – and sometimes necessity – of wine education. Back when I started teaching in university about 10 years ago (holy cow, it’s been that long?!?) I found it incredibly challenging explaining what WSET is to people… Both in getting others to understand what the certification is, and why I wanted one.
Now, Enderun Colleges has yet to take a break from fielding inquiries about the WSET courses available (happy problem!). My WSET certified colleagues and I are constantly taking courses in different parts of the world… Unthinkable 10 years ago, simply because we didn’t know it existed.
This brings me to talking about the present-day Manila wine scene. The combination of exposure, education, and sheer pinoy talent is slowly (but surely!) starting to put Filipino wine professionals on the international map through competitions.
In fact, that’s what’s most exciting about this year’s Manila Uncorked 2019 and 8th Southeast Asia Sommelier Competition, happening on 7 December 2019 in dusitD2. Created by the Southeast Asia Sommelier Alliance (comprised of Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, and The Philippines), the competition will feature 16 sommelier champions who will be representing their countries as they duke it out for the title. It’s made even more thrilling because the first Filipino Master Sommelier, Mr. Luis de Santos, will be part of the panel of judges – and will even hold a master class during the day.
I’m also personally psyched about some of this year’s sponsors: Vintec (it’s under the Electrolux umbrella of brands, so I find it awesome that my husband Chad and I will merge our two industries in one event), Marques de Casa Concha (from Concha Y Toro, a brand I used to represent), ANCX, and Metro.Style (two online publications under ABS-CBN that are way too wonderful for taking my writing seriously enough to publish it).
Speaking of ABS-CBN, they’re part of the media partners who have helped gather different local wine suppliers for what promises to be a well-curated selection of wines attendees can check out during the event…
…Which we’ll be talking about in a different article. 😉 #teaser much? I’m honestly excited for that one, since Junior Sommelier Champion (and Enderun student) Jean Park, and sommelier/wine curator (and former WSET student of The Study by Enderun) Judd Labarda will be hammering out an article featuring their favourite wines from the event.
For more information (and tickets!) on the event, click here.