Red, White and Tipsy

Yep, happier again!  To everyone Sandy brought down, it is hardest going afterwards, particularly when the rest of the world is having fun, business as usual and expects you to bravely overcome and cross the divide between your hapless circumstance and their "normal".  You don't want to hear stuff like "this too shall pass" or "move out and do something".  You know what to do, duh! You just don't have the resources to do so...yet.  So, from one flood survivor to another - you will go on.  If you can't leave entirely, leave for a day or night!
I did!  My friend Angel (looks like one too heehee) treated me to a wine night!  Now I can only sip, not really drink a whole lot.  I get all flushed and puffy and my eyes turn positively vampire-ish red - sooo un-Bella like!  If you get the same way drinking wine then you are allergic to the sulfites in it.  Sulfites are preservatives and wine specially needs it to keep a long time.  Ange was looking for the right company - funny, will endure traffic from EDSA to Makati just to eat, and knows how to read menus and French labels.  Me!
The Wine Depot holds an annual wine appreciation night where people get to sample and snap up table wines, artisanal or organic brands etc.  If you simply like to drink then you won't care what you are guzzling but if you consider yourself a connoisseur you have to graduate from the basic sweet, salty, sour to more flavor combinations.  I owe mine to eating out a lot, sampling different cuisines and cooking with a variety of condiments (actually tasting each one too, including vanilla extract aargh) .It also helped that I attended a wine appreciation session where they give you a box divided into small compartments for spices, wood chips, cork, and dried fruit.  you work your way through the box' contents by smelling, tasting (when applicable) and mxing up two or three things to get a certain flavor or aroma  - much like mixing scents to make perfume. Here's a site that pretty much sums up my experience with escalating taste.  Thanks Laura Martinez! I couldn't have put it better : )
So there we were at the hotel getting tipsy on all these wines, walking from one wine counter to the next with your empty wine glass perpetually held out to be filled.  The wine maker or equally knowledgeable person behind the counter chats you up, answers your questions and in some cases, suffers a bit of fawning -uber flattery- from guests who wants seconds or a picture with him (French, Italian, American, Chilean, Canadian eye candy with divine accents that's why and no, I didn't!  Tempting...but gauche).
I flit to a counter, asks what grape variety from what part of the country (because I like knowing these things and challenging myself if I can actually taste a difference), sip a little (or a lot if I like the wine - I tend to like the fruity sweet ones) then pour the rest into a silver bucket, a little water to clear my palate and then get a refill from a different bottle.
There were hundreds of wines to try but I only got to sample from Banfi, Tulloch, Duval, Diva( if you ever want to learn how to describe your wine read this).Veramonte, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Backhouse, Infinitus, Jean de Livet and Banrock.  I had thirds of Banrock's Moscato - obviously most everyone's (the ladies I think) favorite. I overheard someone talking about how good it was and when I went to the booth and asked for the fruity pink the guy knew right off it's the Moscato I wanted.
I like buying from organic, artisanal vintners (though I am not a connoisseur or able to afford a winery visit or even the wine sometimes. Wine making strikes me as romantic, you see, probably from seeing A Walk in the Clouds ( but I cringe at grape stomping). I also have a great respect for farmers, winemakers and anyone who has to endure waiting for trees or grapes or products to mature, conquering forces of nature and finicky buyers and change that doesn't always bode well.  I am almost like them with my baking - the fear of the flop or the joys of the win - except they have more years and a whole estate invested.
I ate a lot of crusty bread, gorged on curado cheese (cured, thirteen weeks old and I liken the taste to runny, less salty and smooth textured almost custard like yolk of itlog na pula or salted red egg), salsiccia (sausage, found this recipe I might ask mom to try), canapes of smoked salmon,  peppercorn crusted ham, and my absolute favorite sweet, nutty, melty, uber pricey jamon iberico de bellota.  Chef Ed Quimson introduced me to the de bellota kind (priciest!) years ago.  The ham is from pampered acorn fed black pigs.  I was so happy to get a plateful!  Bliss!

Does that tell you something, age goes with aged? Hahaha.  The happy pairings, btw, of aged wine with aged cheese and smoked ham made me me even happier!
I didn't get too flushed, surprisingly just glowy.  I attribute it to all the eating I did in between! Ange went on a laughing trip, since she's the one who did more of the rounds and I guarded our cocktail table with the precious iberico. There was a cocktail table full of wine loving cousins next to ours and they've been to a lot of wine festivals so they're seasoned enough in getting their ticket money's worth haha.  They're not too shy about calling the waiter with the canapes over, so I got to get some for us too.
I had two Vittoria coffees because Ange couldn't drink hers after all the wine.  There were very few tables at these events because you are supposed to go around tasting and chatting standing up (duh, cocktail!).  Some just flopped on the carpet by evening's end, like they're on a picnic.  We are all dressed up for cocktails but then again wine enthusiasts pretty much know each other and beyond a slightly raised brow at too obvious touristy picture taking (blogger cam and iPad exempted) regards wine tasting as fun and not as uppity as people expect..
From a Christmas gift hamper booth I got dessert -white chocolate bark with cranberry or marshmallows. Of course, a huge slice of decadent dark chocolate cake would be a great ending but I was already burping. I will reserve the chocolate cake and coffee for a birthday binge, savored while watching Keanu Reeves (after so many years)  mountain of tissues ready  for the chocolate smears and the tear streaks hikhikhik.

p.s. The Festival happened October 13 but I am playing catch up. 


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