Wine Tasting 101: Top 5 Lessons From My First Wine Appreciation Class at Sofitel

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If there’s one thing Sofitel Manila and I have in common, it’s a shared love for wine. Though while I only enjoy its facile benefit of a great buzz, Sofitel highly values the fine art of wine and its various aspects – so much so that they’ve devoted an entire month to celebrating the almighty vino, in an annual event dubbed as the “Sofitel Wine Days.”

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Among their many events during this month-long celebration is an introduction to wine tasting and appreciation, led by none other than Sofitel’s Food and Beverage manager, Tanguy Gras (he’s French, jsyk). For the F&B head of an establishment that consumes over a thousand bottles of wine a month and houses one of the most extensive selection of wines in Manila, I’m quite confident Mr. Gras sure knows his stuff. This is why I eagerly jumped on the chance to attend one of these exclusive wine tasting classes, to finally give substance to my love of wine and to share with you guys what I’ve learned!

Here are the 5 basic lessons I’ve learned from my first ever wine appreciation class:

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5. How wine is made

Wine production is a highly complex and conditional process. It involves various factors such as the terrain and climate in which grapes are grown, the time at which they are harvested, how the wine is extracted, fermented and aged, etc., and altering any of these aspects will greatly affect the taste and quality of the wines produced. Champagne production calls for an even more complicated method, which results in its commonly higher value. Understanding how and when your wine is made will give you better awareness of its characteristics such as taste and color, among others, because not all wines are made equal.

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4. The proper way to taste wine

Knowing the right way to taste your glass of wine makes all the difference in drinking wine! Rather than simply getting you buzzed, you end up appreciating all the other factors that heighten and enrich your wine tasting experience. It consists of a series of easy steps: See – Swirl – Smell – Sip – Savor, and you will be given numerous opportunities to practice this during your wine class. We practically went through swirling and sipping half a dozen glasses for our session! All in the name of research 😉

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3. How to open a wine bottle

No self-respecting wine lover wouldn’t know how to properly open their own wine bottles! It’s actually a skill I’ve overlooked myself, which is why I was glad to have been taught the basics of opening a wine bottle during our class. The main goal, really, is to get the cork out of the wine bottle in one piece, without it leaving any bits that may damage the wine’s flavours and to avoid accidents like breaking the cork in half.

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2. The many benefits of food and wine pairing

I’ve honestly found wine and food pairing to be quite intimidating, but this class showed me that pairing food with certain types of wines isn’t exactly rocket science. Simply put: food and wine, when appropriately matched, are supposed to complement and bring out the best in each other’s flavours. A rich beef tartare may pare down a highly acidic Cabernet Sauvignon, the robust flavours of goat’s cheese may offset the sweetness of Riesling, and the zing of a lemon may balance out the creaminess of Chardonnay. In the case of food and wine pairing, striking a marvellous balance between the two is key skill, which can be learned over time and through experience.

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1. How to develop your wine-tasting skills

We all know that answer to that: lots of practice, of course! Being a wine-tasting expert doesn’t happen overnight. I requires honing one’s senses of taste, smell and sight, through trying out different types of wines and pairing them with various dishes. Most importantly, it should be fun! A cool tip I got from my wine class is to keep track of the wines I’ve tried through the Vivino App. It has a wine scanner to help to keep a record of the wines you’ve tried, along with wine rating, review and price listings. Super helpful if you take your wines seriously.

Sofitel’s next “The Art of Wine” wine appreciation workshop is scheduled on October 20, 2016, 4pm at Spiral. Sofitel also hosts Wine Tasting events at Le Bar every Friday and Saturday and at Spiral for Sunday brunch until October 31, 2016. For inquiries and reservations, contact +63(2) 832-6988 or email h3608-fb12@sofitel.com

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