Roger Ebert, entertainment writer described the 1995 movie “A Walk in the Clouds” that starred Keanu Reeves and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón as a “glorious romantic fantasy, aflame with passion and bittersweet longing.”
With vineyards and wine making tradition as the backdrop of the story, it’s not difficult to understand why. Wine has been synonymous to romance. Even the word “bittersweet” is an apt description of one of the varied tastes of wine that one can enjoy.
Benjamin Bailleux, 28, shared that for someone who was born and raised in France, it’s normal to develop a passion for wine.
He was exposed to his parents and their friends experimenting on wines. Phrases like “This smells like raspberry” and “This one smells like strawberry” are like magic that can catch any child’s attention.
Now a wine expert of Sommelier Selections, Bailleux visited Iloilo City to share to the patrons of Henry’s Wines and Liquors his passion for French and Italian wines.
The company’s name, by the way, was derived from the word “sommelier” (pronounced saw-m uh – lyey) which Wikipedia defines as “a restaurant employee who orders and maintains the wines sold in the restaurant and usually has extensive knowledge about wine and food pairings.”
Here’s the interview:
TNT: Is it true that wine is good for the heart?
Bailleux: Yes. People say that red wine is good for the heart because the grapes undergo a natural process before it becomes wine. That’s why we say that you can live longer when you drink wine. Added to that, wine drinking is a moment you can share with your friends and family.
TNT: How do you match food with wine?
Bailleux: Of course, there is an ideal pairing to create that unique experience. But the most important question is, “how do you like to drink your wine?” If you like to drink red wine with fish, although it may not be the best pairing, why not? It’s your way of appreciating things. Do it the way you want. But in France, Italy and other old countries, there is a tradition for food and wine, an ideal match. Fish is nice with white wine. Grilled meat is good for red wine. For salad, a light white wine or light red wine is good.
TNT: With Christmas nearing, what wine would you suggest?
Bailleux: Well, since I specialize in French wine and in the Philippines, your favorite Christmas dish is ham, then I recommend Cox, a wine from Southern France. It’s name was derived from “cocinelle”, meaning a lady bug.
But, Henry’s has a wide selection of wine not only from France and Italy but from Chile and Australia. Just experiment.
TNT: What’s the proper way of drinking wine?
Bailleux: Look, smell and taste. Hold the wine glass at the stem, not by the bowl. If you hold the glass by the bowl, you will warm up the wine.
Look at the wine. How does it look like? Is it intense, clear, light or bright?
Twirl the wine glass. You notice that some liquid remains in the middle of the bowl. We call it the legs which show the wine’s alcohol content. The more oily, the more alcohol content.
Smell the wine. What flavours or aroma do you catch? Do you have red berries, tropical fruit or cooked fruits? There are different kinds of flavours. We swirl the wine to enhance its flavour. After swirling, you will note that the aroma becomes more fragrant. Then, taste.
TNT: Would you know how old a wine is through its taste?
Bailleux: Yes. For example, the taste of red wine at two years, would be more mellow. Young wine would taste harsh and bitter. So, give it a couple of years, it will be smoother to drink.
On each bottle of wine, there is a year stated there. It’s not the date of expiration but rather the vintage. It is the year the grapes were harvested and the wine was produced. Here in Henry’s, you can find wines made in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011. We have different vintages.
But, not all wines become tastier as they grow older. It’s just that there are some wines that are intended for ageing. Meaning, the way they were made requires a couple of years before people can drink them. They lose their bitterness when they age.
Bailleux was also asked about the traditional way of crushing grapes like the scene in “A Walk in the Clouds” where the lead stars crushed the grapes with their feet.
“It used to be the case. Traditionally, we use to crush the grapes using the feet. Now, we have modern techniques and modern machines. But still, in a few places, some wine makers keep the tradition,” Bailleux explained.
In vinification (wine making), grapes are crushed so as to break the skin in order to squeeze out the berries.
Although crushing grapes by one’s feet can be laborious, it is believed to produce better quality wine than the ones that passed through mechanical crushing.
May it be crushed by foot or by machine, one thing is noticeable. More people are now more inclined to drinking wine because of its health benefits (Bailleux warns: one glass a day, please!) and no chance of gaining a “beer belly.” Not to mention the fact that the twirling, smelling and the use of a wine glass looks sexier.