After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the Grand Wine Experience returns

HALTED by the pandemic, the Grand Wine Experience is coming back with a bang after three years.

There was a press preview earlier this week at Rustan’s Makati by the Philippine Wine Merchants and Ralph’s Wine and Spirits, but the store would not have been able to fit all the brands that will be showcased on Friday, Nov. 17, at the Marriott Grand Ballroom. According to the president of both wine companies, Ralph Joseph (of the Joseph wine distributing family), there will be over 1,000 wine, spirits, beer, and saké (Mr. Joseph’s latest obsession) brands at the event.

This Friday’s Grand Wine Experience is the 20th for Philippine Wine Merchants, and is also a celebration of their 48th year in business. This year’s theme is “Bud Break,” which captures the essence of renewal and optimism. According to a release, “bud break is the first stage of the grapevine’s annual cycle, when the dormant buds burst into life and produce new shoots. It is a critical time for the vineyard, as it determines the potential yield and quality of the grapes.” Mr. Joseph relates this to the three-year pause they had to take, noting the auspiciousness of the dates had they been allowed to carry on in 2020. The 20th anniversary was to have been marked on Nov. 20, 2020. “Sayang (what a waste). 20/2020.”

“We would have done it last year, but for us, we’re better prepared for a bigger one,” he said on holding the event this year, despite pandemic-related restrictions loosening up last year.

Mr. Joseph made an observation on the maturity of the Philippine wine market in their 48th year in operation. “Before, people only drank brands. Now, everybody’s open to anything.”

Which leads us to his latest obsession, saké (Japanese rice wine), itself with many appellations and varieties. They had just opened a saké bar at BGC’s Mitsukoshi Mall last year, and, according to him, over 40 saké brands will make an appearance at the Grand Wine Experience. “I think saké’s growing fast,” he said.

On another note, he told reporters that his preferred hangover cure — sure to come in handy after Friday’s festivities: “The next day, you have to drink again.”

The 20th Grand Wine Experience will take place on Nov. 17 at the Grand Ballroom of the Manila Marriott Hotel at Newport World Resorts in Pasay City. The doors will open at 5 p.m. and the event will last until midnight. Tickets are available at for P8,500. The ticket price includes unlimited tastings, an all-you-can-eat buffet, entrance to talks, and a raffle entry. — Joseph L. Garcia

Joseph Emmanuel Garcia

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