The Philippines bursts with a tropical vitality fit for any escapist’s fantasy, vino in hand. But as we approach the peak of the heat, our favourite bottles may take the back seat in favour of lighter, more refreshing picks. Enter the snazzy, in-vogue beverage taking the world by storm: natural wine.
“Natural wine is very refreshing because of its lower alcohol content and lighter body,” muses wine educator, Chie Gatchalian. “Even natural red wines can be enjoyed at the height of summer.” Since 2010, Gatchalian has indulged her oenophile proclivities—a zeal that took her to Ho Chi Minh City, where she’d fly to Hong Kong and attend classes at the Asian Wine Service & Education Centre (AWSEC). Here, she completed her Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 3 Certification and commenced the DipWSET programme before moving to Bangkok. Now back in Manila, Gatchalian continues her wine education platform 5 & 1⁄2 Twists, collaborating with importers, distributors, retailers and fellow educators to host wine talks, tastings, and make “wine understandable, friendly, and non-intimidating”.
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Like conventional wines, natural wine starts with beautiful, plump grapes and realises as red, white, orange, rosé and even sparkling varieties. The difference lies in the production. “Natural wine starts with grapes grown by an independent grower or producer, with no artificial chemicals and pesticides,” Gatchalian explains. “It is wine at its purest, most unadulterated form where the fruit is at the forefront. With natural wine, there is no masking bad fruit—no oak, no added sugar or acids, no added sulfites [or at least very little].”
She enthuses, “Think: “woke up like this”, or #nofilter, but in a bottle.”
Resulting from this fashionable yet time-honoured practice are incredibly versatile, agreeable wines. “Natural wine tends to go really well with lighter fare but can also hold its own when paired with flavourful food because of its bold and outlandish flavour profiles,” observes Gatchalian. Luckily, Asian food is no exception. “Because Asian food tends to be ‘in your face’, I find that natural wine complements it very well,” she remarks, noting that its lower astringency enables it to “take on the spice in some of your favourite curries”.