An education in wines | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Mompo was the first wine I ever sipped. My dad wanted my brother Bong and I to try this red wine to prepare us as altar boys. I hated it. Then came Blue Nun and Mateus. These were the only popular brands then. When our French restaurant was in operation, I never really tried any of the wines then. Even our customers hardly had any wine.

When I worked as a waiter in our Philippine restaurant in Paris, every customer who had a meal had a bottle of wine. We served Tavel for rose, Muscadet for white, St. Emilion for red and many others. I would bring a bucket of ice for white and rose, while red would just be set on the table.

The ritual went by: I would show the bottle first, wait for the customer’s nod, and move on to opening that bottle. I would pour a small amount in the host’s glass, and wait for the second nod to pour in the glasses of the guests first, then the host, last.

I used a traditional wine opener at first, until I was introduced to this more sophisticated one that used air pressure. It was a black gadget that had a six-inch needle. With a knife, I would slice off the label along the sides of the bottle, stick that needle into the cork and press air into the bottle until the cork would pop out. It made my work a lot easier.

Little did I know this procedure was frowned upon by a few who still liked their wine being opened the traditional way.

Affordable levels

At school in Cornell, I took a class in wine tasting. I don’t believe I learned much since the wines we were tasting were not exactly good kinds, plus there were budget constraints.

We were 300 in the class. We were told what to look for in good wine like the aroma, the legs in the side of the glass and a few others.

I have come to the conclusion that if you want to know about wine, you have to drink it often enough and not learn it from the classroom.

Wine has evolved since then. Many countries such as South Africa, Chile, Australia, the United States and many other countries are now producing good quality wines. France no longer has the monopoly. This has brought the prices of wine to affordable levels and this can be noticed with the skyrocket in the number of wine enthusiasts and drinkers.

I love a good bottle of red wine. Occasionally, I will have a nice white wine, too. Pinot Grigio for white and a Cabernet Sauvignon for red are my preferences.


Recently, I visited a friend’s restaurant. This is the last place I should go when trying to shed off pounds. I am made a guinea pig for any new dish. I love it. He was sharing stories about his recent trip to Italy. What amazing stories about his food exploits.

Two things caught my attention. He had brought back chunks of fresh truffle, which he promised to make me sample with a pasta dish he now serves at the resto. Al dente pasta with a white cream sauce topped with shaved truffles.

Before we started talking, he brought out a bottle of red wine. He poured some in my wine glass and made me try it. I swirled it a bit to make it breathe and took a sip. It was okay.

Then, he brought out this tiny gadget which he said was a wine aerator. I had never seen one before. He asked me to try and see the difference between the one I just sipped and one that passed through an aerator.

My gosh. Huge difference! I don’t usually have more than a glass or two. I finished half that bottle. What a transformation from that seemingly ordinary wine. It was that good.

You put that wine aerator over the glass, pour the red wine over the gadget and the wine falls into the glass and its ready to drink. No need to make the bottle breathe nor decant the wine. All this is done by the aerator. Anyone who drinks red wine should have one.

Amazing! My focus from that truffle pasta shifted to the wine aerator. There are two models. One is a portable one and the other is a tabletop one. This one has a nice stand. Just put the glass under the stand and pour the red wine over.

I’m sure some wine enthusiasts like my friend Greg will frown at this. It did make my wine taste a lot better. I’m drinking with this from now on.

From our days with Mompo and Blue Nun, times have indeed changed. I wonder what they have in store for us in the future.

Every red wine drinker should have one. Highly recommended!

The brands I tried are called Vinturi Travel and Vinturi De Luxe wine aerators, tel. 0908-8852873. Pasta can be found at Katre Med Resto, tel. 3734705, 3746650.

Happy Eating!