In vino, veritas.
In wine, there is truth.
Well, the truth is, I didn’t have much appreciation for wines. Similar to most Filipinos who reached adulthood without any exposure to wine culture, I have decided that wine just isn’t for me. What few sips I’ve had of the stuff were, for some reason, not pleasurable for me.
However, after joining a Food and Wine Pairing class organized by Wine Story Academy, I realized that maybe, similar to many things in life, I just haven’t found the right wine for me. Also, by partnering wine with one of my favorite kinds of food – pizza, supplied by Pasto Cafe and Bar – I was able to explore how the right combination of food and wine brings out the best in each other.
The class was held at the Wine Story outlet in EDSA Shangri-la Mall, an upscale retailer of fine and rare wines. Wine Story Academy’s Wine Education Manager Carla Santos guided our group through a set of five different wines to be tasted together with five different pizza flavors.
Basic Principles in Food and Wine Pairing
The conventional wisdom in food and wine pairing is to pair red wines with red meat and white wines with white meat. However, according to Carla, there are more factors to consider, not the least of which is your own preference.
To find the perfect food and wine pairing, we need to strike a balance among the following characteristics of the food served:
Weight. How heavy (or filling) does the food feel in your mouth? It is a good idea to pair a filling kind of food with a fuller-bodied kind of wine.
Intensity. How strong does are the food’s flavors? You would want to taste both the food and the wine’s flavors so take care that one does not overpower the other.
Flavor. The ingredients and method of cooking, as well as dips and sauces incorporated to the dish also contribute to the flavor of the food which needs to be considered.
In choosing the perfect wine for the dishes, one must consider the following wine profiles:
Sweetness. It is the first sensation – it may not necessarily be a sugary kind of sweetness but more of a fruity kind – as the wine hits the tip of your tongue. All but the very driest of wines will have some sensation of sweetness.
Acidity. This is what makes the wine crisp and refreshing. You will feel it as it makes your mouth water. A wine with too much acidity will be unpleasantly tart while one with too little will feel flabby or flat.
Tannin. This is the mouth-drying substance found in wine. Too much tannin will make the wine taste hard and bitter while too little will make it seem soft and innocuous as fruit juice.
The evening’s featured wines, curated by Wine Story Academy, include:
Tenuta Sant’Anna Goccia Pinot Grigio 2017 (Veneto, Italy; Php1,000). It smells of acacia flowers and exotic fruits. The taste is marked by a total absence of tannin, resulting to a fresh and floral flavor.
Sand Point Chardonnay 2015 (California, USA; Php1,300). Possesses an aroma with peach and pear notes. It is a soft wine with low acidity and fruity flavor.
Urban Riesling 2015 (Mosel, Germany; Php1,350). It has a clean, fresh and flinty bouquet and smells of tangerines. It is off-dry, with a crisp and semi-sweet taste.
The Winery of Good Hope Bush Vine Pinotage 2018 (Stellenbosch, South Africa; Php1,050). Its aroma is one of blackberry and plums accented by hints of oak and mocha. It tastes ripe and juicy.
Cardinalices Rouge Grande Reserve 2015 (Rhone Valley, France; Php1,000). It has a fruity aroma with some spicy notes and marked by a strong and complex flavor.
Pizzas paired with the featured wines were provided by Pasto’s EDSA Shangri-la Mall branch and presented interesting flavors that we mixed and matched with the wine.
Vegetariano. This pizza is marked by the earthy smokey flavor of assorted roasted vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and garlic. I find that the light and fresh Pinot Grigio works well with this pizza.
Napolitana. Sliced button mushrooms and savory achovies make this a strongly flavored pizza. For me, the Pinotage’s acidity stands up well to its saltiness.
Di Carne. This is an all-meat extravaganza with Italian sausage, smoked ham and pepperoni. The Cardinalices’ bold and strong flavors complement the meats in this pizza.
Gamberi Fritti. A crispy battered shrimp tops the artichoke salsa and lemon aioli in this pizza, with spicy chili flakes. The low alcohol and the refreshing acidity of the Riesling manages the heat from this spicy pizza.
Prosciutto Cotto. Caramelized onions added some sweetness to the pizza along with the earthy smoked ham, asparagus and mozzarella. The soft and fruity Chardonnay complements the pizza’s flavors.
Wine tasting tips
This food and wine pairing class is an eye-opener for me. Not only did it show me the versatility and variety of wines but it also helped grow my appreciation for how they can enrich the dining experience. For those who are planning to go to a similar wine tasting affair, here are some things to remember:
- No brushing of teeth or smoking right before class. Tobacco and mint will affect your sense of taste.
- Avoid wearing heavy scents such as perfume, cologne or scented hair spray. These will affect your sense of smell.
- Hold the wine glass by the stem. This keeps fingerprints off the bowl (so you can see and appreciate the liquid in all its splendor) and prevents your hand from heating the wine.
- Prior to tasting, take a sniff to get an initial impression of the wine’s aroma, then swirl for a bit to bring out some more of its scent. This will contribute to your fuller appreciation of the wine’s flavor.
Many thanks to Mike Lord Raymundo of the Pasto Group and Bar Craft Concepts for extending the invitation!
For more details about the wines and pizzas featured in this wine class, visit their respective social media sites:
To help develop the Filipino palate for wine, the Wine Story Academy offers the following classes next month:
- April 6: Intro to Bordeaux (Php3,000 per person)
- April 13: Wine 101 (Php2,000 per person) and Sushi and Wine Pairing (Php2,500 per person)