Originally published January 2017
Rosa is a lawyer by profession who specializes in renewable energy laws in the Philippines. She also manages her own lifestyle blog called “My Sanity Points”, where she can indulge herself in creative writing about beauty, makeup, travel, food and all her other interests and passions. Rosa is either traveling to a new place, engaging in new experiences, reviewing a beauty product, or enjoying a good meal with friends. Whenever she travels, she likes to think of herself more as a “traveler”, as opposed to a “tourist”.
HOW TO WINE IN MANILA
Most people know that Manila is the capital city of the Philippines. But not all people know that Manila is only one of the cities that comprise the whole of Metro Manila or what is more technically known as the National Capital Region of the Philippines. Of the sixteen cities and municipalities that comprise Metro Manila, visitors will most often find themselves in the busiest business districts such as Makati City, Quezon City, Mandaluyong City, Pasig City, and Taguig City. More often than not, one can find the best hotels, restaurants, bars, malls, and other interesting places in these areas.
Manila is known for its thriving night life – with numerous bars and restaurants all over the major cities. Most spots offer world class quality food, cocktails, and ambiance. However, Filipinos are not really known as wine drinkers. In fact, most Filipinos would rather offer you an ice-cold beer rather than a glass of Merlot. In the past years, wine enthusiasts tended to confine themselves to hotel lounge bars where one might readily find a variety of wines.
Drinking wine while dining out is admittedly still a young and growing fad in Manila. Luckily, with the influence of social media and of more Filipinos engaged in world travel, local palates are slowly evolving. With this comes the onslaught of hip and chic wine bars around the Metro with the aim of introducing the concept of wine and dining to a country full of beer drinkers.
Two particular establishments in Manila are making names for themselves by being the pioneers in the wine dining industry. For wine tourists visiting Manila, these two wonderful places should be part of your agenda.
Planet Grapes is quite young. It has only been in the market for four years. This venue has a very innovative and creative concept for introducing wine to Filipinos. Knowing that ordering wine is a new thing for most Pinoys, the main goal is to make the experience less intimidating, especially for “first-time” wine drinkers.
Most of the wine selections that they offer are introductory and basic wines. For example, if you want to try some red wine which typically has many varieties, they can offer you something basic just so you can have a taste of what it’s like.
What I find fascinating are the enomatic machines which are similar to soda or vending machines, but which are used to serve their most popular wines. Every customer is encouraged to go near the machines and sip or taste something before finally deciding what to order. Although every sip comes with a minimum fee, one will be able to try every grape variety that they offer before deciding on a full glass order. It’s also a way for Planet Grapes to explain the origins of each bottle, from the grapes used to the wine region from which it originated. All Planet Grapes wine associates are trained and educated about wines and since most of them are from the young millennial crowd, the goal is to make the experience of wine tasting fun, relaxed and easy.
Along with their tagline “Street Food meets Wine”, most of the dishes served in Planet Grapes are what one would commonly associate with Filipino beer drinking. They do have the cold cuts and cheese platters, but since the aim is to attract people who are not familiar with wine and food pairings, Planet Grapes offers a unique concept of pairing common Filipino street food with wine drinking. They serve adobo rice, potato chips, squid balls, beef salpicao skewers, and everyone’s favorite “sisig”. Personally, I’m surprised that a sizzling plate of crispy pork sisig is best paired with Merlot.
If you find yourself at a loss regarding which wine to pair with which street food, the Planet Grapes wine associates will be there to happily chat with you to help you decide. For visiting wine tourists, I also think that Planet Grapes would be a great restaurant choice because it offers one the chance to try some Filipino street food along with a glass of wine.
Planet Grapes can be found in the following areas around the Metro:
Unit GD 103, North Wing,
Shangri-La Plaza Mall,
Edsa cor. Shaw Blvd.,
G/F Bldg. 3 Tuscany at Mckinley Hill,
Upper Mckinley Rd.,
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
For more experienced and sophisticated wine drinkers, a good choice is Planet Grapes’ affiliate restaurant named Wine Story. I refer to it as Planet Grapes’ older sister, having been created and conceptualized by the same owners about seven years ago. Also located in several areas around the Metro, this restaurant caters to the more sophisticated, more mature, and the more affluent wine tourist. Most of their regulars are business executives, CEOs, politicians and famous Filipino celebrities.
While they also have the same enomatic machines like Planet Grapes, Wine Story offers more fine, vintage, and hard-to-find wines to the more refined Filipino wine drinkers. Most of their collections come from France, focusing on vintage Bordeaux varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as Sauvignon Blanc. They also offer a wide variety of Burgundy wines, including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And since we’re talking about wine influences from France, Wine Story also has a fine selection of champagnes and other sparkling wines. Wine Story prides itself on sourcing their collections directly from the different French chateaus.
Coming to the store is part of the experience. Every store offers something special and unique, and I really find it hard to compare them. In their main branch in Mandaluyong, the store is designed to be like a museum gallery. The wine cabinets are arranged beautifully and conveniently to show the most vintage, most expensive, and most exceptional collections. In their Serendra branch, the flat layout looks like a fashionable wine boutique. Most of their corporate events are also held in this branch. Meanwhile, in their Rockwell branch, it reminds me of a library somewhere in Europe, with wine cabinets stacked on each floor.
Wine Story wants to be different from the other wine bars or wine restaurants in Manila. Knowing that the wine drinking public in the Philippines is very young and constantly evolving, the objective of Wine Story is to elevate and enhance wine drinking and enjoyment in the Philippines through education. To achieve this, they have a Wine Story Academy that offers different classes to lay the foundations of wine knowledge to everyone who wants to learn more about wine, as well as courses that are recognized as prerequisites for prestigious wine education programs worldwide. As such, Wine Story Academy is an approved program provider of Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). On occasions, they also offer several wine tasting events with the main purpose being to raise awareness and increase wine knowledge among Filipino wine enthusiasts while at the same time, improving the fine wine industry in the Philippines.
Wine Story is open to any wine enthusiast and wine tourist with an advanced level of passion for wines. They serve high quality wine and food pairings that are aimed to complete the whole fine wine dining experience. Wine Story has several branches in the Metro and you can find them here:
111 Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City, Philippines
Serendra Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City, Philippines
Unit W-104 One Rockwell, Rockwell Center, Makati City, Philippines
WHERE TO STAY IN MANILA
Manila offers many hotels, from luxury high-end hotels to your typical B&Bs. If you’re a fan of Airbnb, there are also several properties around the Makati Central Business District, Ortigas Central Business District and Bonifacio Global City. Some classy selections located right in the center of everything are below:
The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences
119 L.P. Leviste St.
Salcedo Village, Makati City
T: +63 2 828.4774
F: +63 2 828.9141
30th Street corner 11th Avenue
Bonifacio Global City
Taguig City, 1634 Philippines
T: (632) 9458888 | (632) 5885700
F: (632) 9458891