published in Time Out Singapore

The cuisine of the Philippines is a mixture of sorts – Mexican and Spanish dishes were introduced during colonial times but the cuisine with Malay roots embraces the cooking of the Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Japanese and Americans. The regional cuisine is varied, reflecting various ethnic groups of the country.  In general, Filipino cuisine tastes of a blend of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours.  Take Adobo, pork or chicken stew featuring pepper, garlic, bay leaves, soy and vinegar. Meet the bold flavours with a French Minervois, a Tuscan Sangiovese blend or a Spanish Ribera del Duero.

Other stews include Apritadang Manok, chicken cooked in tomato; and Kaldereta, goat, beef or lamb with olives, chilli and cream. For the chicken, a herbal Cabernet Franc works its flavours into the tomato stew; for the Western style stew with a rich moist texture, choose juicy and bright flavoured wines – Grenache, Nero d’Avola or a Rosé from Provence – they are friendly to chilli too.

Tannin in red wines can be bitter and are also experienced as astringency – the puckering feeling in the mouth similar to that when eating unsweetened chocolate or chewing on skins of fruits. Kare Kare, the oxtail stew, cooked in a nutty sauce is high in proteins and fatty. Tannins in red wine bind with the fat – the result – smoother tasting wine and delicate tasting food. So Barolo, Bordeaux, Mouvedre, Sagrantino and Tannat have their place here.

Sour ingredients like vinegar and lime can make a wine taste flat and flabby. Green mango salad served with bagoong (salted shrimp paste) requires a tangy Riesling or Muscadet that will not be overcome but shines through the sour and pungent.

For deserts, as long as the wine is sweeter than the dessert, the wine will not taste sour. So for Bibingka Cassava (cassava with coconut milk, eggs, cheese and sugar), Brazo de Mercedes (cream filled log cake) and Caramel Flan, uncork those sweet or late harvest wines – Port, Tokaji, SGN, Beerenauslese, sparkling Icewine, Muscat, Banyuls and Barsac.

Find out more in the books “Pairing Wine with Asian Food” or “Wine with Asian Food”