A glass of Merlot with a plate of cheese and cold cuts or a buttery fish à la meunière with a cold glass of Chardonnay or a perfectly seared rib-eye steak paired with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. That’s how wine should be enjoyed, right?
But what about Merlot with pork adobo or Chardonnay with seafood binakol or cabernet sauvignon with arroz a la cubana? Believe it or not, Filipino food can be paired with wine, too.
Most Pinoys do not pair local food with wine. We usually eat our food with soda, iced tea, juice, or water, which is not a bad thing. But pairing it with a drink that can enhance the flavors of the dish is a much better option. And wine’s definitely much healthier than sugary drinks.
Arroz a la cubana omu style
“Our thinking is, Filipino food should be paired with water or beer or soda, but I always feel like we should have more wine with Filipino food. Because our flavors are strong, they could stand up to the wine. So, why not wine?” says Filipino celebrity chef Sharwin Tee.
Known for his innovative and progressive cooking of Filipino cuisine, chef Sharwin was recently named as the new ambassador of Chilean wine Casillero del Diablo. During the recent launch, he demonstrated how to cook Filipino food with wine.
“It’s very easy to cook Pinoy food with wine. I was excited when Casillero approached me because they knew I cooked progressive Filipino food,” he says. “The inspiration comes from the flavors of the wines. A good pairing is where the wine tastes better because of the food and the food tastes better because of the wine.”
Chef Sharwin rose to fame after winning reality TV show/competition Clash of the Toque-en Ones and soon after hosting his own show Curiosity Got Chef. He is known for using modern techniques and new ingredients in traditional Filipino food.
As the local ambassador of one of Chile’s top wine brands, he tweaked four Filipino recipes by using different varieties of wines. Casillero del Diablo, distributed locally by Fly Ace Corporation, and Chef Sharwin would like to encourage more Filipinos to cook and eat with wine.
His first recipe is the pulled pork adobo nachos, which uses Casillero Merlot. The dish plays with different flavors and textures. The flaked pork is served with a tangy mango salsa and creamy roasted garlic sour cream sauce on a bed of crunchy tortilla chips.
A must-try at home recipe is the spicy mussel and clam binakol. The dish usually uses chicken but after tasting Casillero del Diablo’s Chardonnay, chef Sharwin was reminded of the beach and seafood that is why he used shellfish instead of the traditional fowl. The soup is a combination of various flavors like the freshness of lemongrass and basil and the kick from the ginger and spicy Korean gochujang paste.
The other recipes include the omu-style arroz a la cubana (paired with Cabernet Sauvignon) and the grilled chicken with guava glaze (paired with Carmenere).
“We picked these four because they’re the easiest to do and they pair great with the wine. Our goal is to show you what wine dishes pair great with,” Chef Sharwin explains. Every bottle of Casillero del Diablo comes with a mini booklet of recipes.
He also shares the secret to cooking Filipino food with wine. The chef says that it’s basically cooking with the concentrated flavor of grapes. Any food that goes perfect with fruity notes can be prepared with wine. He also explains that alcohol from wine is cooked off when used.
“The key is to taste the wine first, what I like specifically about this wine and how can that be more pronounced. If you want to cook with wine, the easiest way is always to think of it as a liquid for stewing. A lot of Filipino food is based on braising and stews,” Chef Sharwin says. “When we created these recipes, I was very mindful of respecting our traditional food. What we did was pick recipes that would benefit from an additional taste. When you cook with wine, you’re concentrating the flavor of the grape. If you think about it, it’s anything that goes well with fruity flavors.”
He also points to other dishes that go with the wines that he used like the Cabernet Sauvignon would go perfectly with bistek, the chardonnay with pesang isda or tinola, the Carmenere with kakanin, and the Merlot with pork dishes like menudillo or menudo.
It’s also important to note that when the West says drink red wine in room temperature, drink it at a cool 10 degrees celsius because room temperature in the northern and southern hemispheres are totally different with our tropical climate. For those without dedicated wine chillers, to achieve this, Chef Sharwin suggests to put the bottle of red in the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before serving. White wines, on the other hand, are served chilled and in an ice bucket.
“I’ve always been the kind of chef who puts more value on the enjoyment of the guest than the rules. If you’re following a rule, but you’re not enjoying it, then what’s the point? You want to pair red with seafood? Fine. You want to pair white wine with steak? Fine. Whatever you enjoy is what’s more important,” says Chef Sharwin.(Source: https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2017/08/03/wine-not/)