“Grand Wine Experience is where relationships are made…”Ronnie Joseph
…and I’ll leave the quote at that. 😉
Don’t get me wrong, I love the theme of the 20th Grand Wine Experience, Bud Break. It appeals to the wine geek in me: Bud Break is the period in vinification where new buds start sprouting… a beautiful promise made by nature that this harvest will yield grapes for wine production. It is so fitting because it is the first GWE since the pandemic, and I feel that it really captures its spirit: “It is a celebration of life, a toast to the future, and a tribute to the past. It is a symbol of resilience, of how we can overcome adversity and emerge stronger and better.”
But hey. Not everybody would nerd out on drinks like I do. So as a seasoned patron of GWE since 2009, I can say that it has become the ultimate venue for wine-minded individuals – geeky or otherwise – to gather, commune, and create fun memories over some of the most stupendous wines in the market. Some of my memories include being dragged around by my fellow wino and friend veteran GWE MC extraordinaire Ines Cabarrus-Habayeb from one end of the ballroom to the other, wine in hand. I remember making the mistake of wearing heels on my first one and bowing out too early in the game because my feet were not having it. I remember running into various friends across industries – diplomats, photographers, entertainers*, fashion insiders, and heck even some former students – and watching them prove the old Latin adage, in vino veritas (or as Robi Joseph put it, “divine revelations”). I remember winning a gigantic bottle of sake – something I didn’t appreciate at the time – and staggering less than gracefully down a flight of stairs from a second floor ballroom (I have since really gotten into sake and took a certificate course… Gotta say I had my sake start from a GWE!). I’ve met so many amazing individuals, which makes Ronnie’s quote at the beginning of this article true. 😉
Despite the various states of inebriation guests tend to be in during the event, I wouldn’t liken GWE to an ancient Roman vomitorium… not yet at least (I’m kidding). As Robi put it, the event “is a celebration of the art and science, culture and history of wine regions… and the joy and pleasure of sharing a bottle with family and friends.” People could sample one of 1,000 wines, spirits, and sake (yep, one friggin’ thousand – a jump from the 500/600/700 drinks from previous ones) in one ballroom, presented by some of the biggest alcohol suppliers in the country and discover new flavors.
During the sneak peek press conference, we were treated to four out of the one thousand wines (yep, just 986 wines to go, oof!). We had a beautifully off-dry Ausgust Kesseler Riesling from Rheingau, a wonderfully robust Finca Ygay Marqués de Murrieta Reserva Rioja, and a Fonseca Porto 10 Year Old Aged Tawny Port that hit the spot.
For those who are thinking of attempting to go through the 1,000 alcoholic beverages that night, it’s best to have a strategy. The Josephs have various tips (although Robi did make a good point about the need for one being the same as the need of a child coming into a playground for the first time), but my personal ones include:
- Eat. Please. There’s plenty of food to go around. And don’t forget to compliment Manila Marriott’s Executive Chef Meik Brammer, who is excitedly pulling out all the stops to make this a feast to go down in history… Think two paelleras – one as big as a ballroom table, my favorite Peking duck, cold cuts and cheeses flown in from different parts of the world.
- Hydrate. Have plenty of water between drinks.
- Don’t be a hero. Only drink as much as you could. It’s a shame to make all these memories, finding drinks and people you like, only to forget about it the next day. Have the anecdote, don’t be the anecdote.
- Ladies, wear flats. The venue is massive (and I mean, massive), so walking from one end to the other drink in hand will turn into an Olympic sport in heels.
- Map it out based on what you want to achieve. You can go degustation-style and start from light drinks, move to the heavyweights, and end with spirits. Another option is to go region by region, starting with Old World (i.e., wines from the EU) then moving on to the New World wines. Me, I’ll go for the rare wines, then have a sake fest.
- Take pictures… and not for a potential Hangover movie post-credit montage. Or to find your car (please don’t drink and drive, I highly suggest checking into the hotel). I do that to remember which wines I like so I could order them next time.
The 20th Grand Wine Experience is happening in Manila Marriott Hotel Grand Ballroom on November 17, 2023, Saturday. Bottles will start pouring at 5:00pm and the festivities will last until midnight.
Tips, expectations, event details and the excitement of new memories over good booze and food in hand, here’s to hoping to see you there. Don’t forget to purchase your tickets from their website, www.grandwineexperience.com.
*Will miss our good buddy Boyet Sison this year. The GWE will not be the same without your booming voice and dapper outfit. I promise to have a glass of whisky for ya. Cheers up in heaven buddy <3