A noob's guide to drinking wine

Chardonnay with Terra Cotta chocolate from PF Chang's, cheddar and Edam cheese, and some pistachio nuts.

Every once in a while, we spend a lazy weekend with friends over glasses of wine paired with some cheeses, sausages or even a variety of chocolates and whatnots. This really isn't because we are wine connoisseurs but because we have bottles and bottles of wine that were given to us as gifts accumulated over the holidays. Of course, a lot of people like seeing these fancy bottles displayed rather then actually drinking them like back home in my mom's house but we thought it would be better to host wine parties instead. 

Wine served with various cheeses, fruits and ham, prepared by our very own Martha Stewart, Jae. 

For non-experts such as ourselves, the basic rule that we went by was reds for red meat (pork, beef, lamb) and whites for white meat (fish, chicken). This, I learned, is accurate enough but what we didn't know then was that there are actually quite a number of varieties of red and white wines that you can choose from - not to mention the sparkling wines and dessert wines.

Thankfully, we got invited to a Nuffnang and Marks & Spencer wine tasting event that also included a very helpful knowledge sharing session with Wine and Spirit Education Trust Awardee, Chie Gatchalian. While I was pretty excited to go, I couldn't help but feel like a noob once the wine tasting started. Most of the other guests would expertly proclaim that a certain wine tastes perfectly dry or that this kind of wine is fruity etc. And there I thought, before this event, I didn't know that wine could have all these variety and that it could taste different from one another.  

There were just too many wines to take note of and being a little lightheaded from the tasting didn't really help me remember all of them but I did take note and Instagramed the ones that I liked best for reference. My choices of course were made by my unsophisticated pallet so this guide best applies to those that are just starting to appreciate wine like us.

First stop is the Lambrusco. I am sure that not all Lambruscos in the market are alike, but this particular type sold at Marks & Spencer stood out for me for being light, flavorful and having low alcohol content. This is a type of wine that is meant to be drank young so once you get them, you have to consume them within six (6) months of purchase and don't let them grow cobwebs in your display cabinets. It is the perfect wine to start with in parties or pair up with pasta, sausages or just about anything fatty as its high acid content cuts through fatty foods. Once opened, be sure to drink Lambrusco right away or it turns flat like softdrinks without the fizz.

For reds, the Merlot stood out for me as it was described by Chie as the type of red wine that you serve to your non-wine drinking friends to ease them in. The reason for this is because it tastes more fruity than your regular red wine thus appealing more to the Coca Cola drinking crowd. 

Our top choice from the said event is this very sweet dessert wine, Moscatel de Valencia. Served chilled, you can drink this wine on its own or pair it up with fruits or salty cheeses. This is best consumed within three (3) months of purchase and once opened, you have to drink it up within a few days. 

Finally, I am one of those people that always thought that wine has this overpowering taste the first time you drink it. Thanks to Chie Gatchalian's talk, I discovered the importance of swirling. If you ever wonder why wine is swirled before drinking, watch this video.

All these wines are available at under a thousand pesos per bottle at Marks & Spencer. 

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