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Writing about wine: Personal yet universal

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WHEN one writes about wine, one has to be very careful. Words from one’s pen will come to represent a bottle that took years of work, decades of legacy, and the earth’s own providence to produce. With these factors in place, each wine: from grands-crus from Bordeaux to wine that isn’t exactly up to par from who-knows-where, deserves more than a modicum of respect.

That’s why early this month, The Write Mind, a writing workshop series by hospitality consultancy Courage Asia, organized a wine-tasting-cum-writing workshop at Discovery Primea’s Flame. Guests at the workshop consisted mostly of professionals from related fields in writing, but more interestingly, included wine enthusiasts and wine distributors who wanted to improve their writing skills, and perhaps allow them to reach a new level of intimacy with their product.

The talks were headed by writers CJ Juntereal and Marilen Fontanilla. Ms. Juntereal has a weekly column in the Manila Bulletin called “Eat Girl” and is the current president of the International Wine & Food Society Manila Ladies Branch. Ms. Fontanilla, meanwhile, was the former editor-in-chief of F&B World, and continues to write for various platforms.

The pair guided the group through the basics of wine tasting, teaching guests how to identify by sight, smell, and taste. Ms. Juntereal, who was raised in an environment that praised wine, led guests through basic wine vocabulary, like knowing the difference between tannic and dry: a taste influenced by tannins might literally leave the mouth dry, but a wine described as dry doesn’t concern itself with the tannic content, but with its acidity. Got it?

While the pair talked about identifying notes based on color, taste, and scent, they were quick to point out that tasting wine is a personal business, and a more effective way of putting words to paper is to go into your own bank of memories and place the sensorial cues with references to things that are familiar to you. It’s still a balance, however: Ms. Juntereal advises refining your palate and training your tongue through constant tasting of food and wine, while enriching your mind with reading and writing.

“You need wine knowledge if you want to be a wine writer. You don’t have to be an expert. But take a few classes.”




Ana Marie “Alu” Aran, meanwhile, Director at Courage Asia and one of the brains behind The Write Mind, said that the workshops began as a response to demands from editors. “They keep getting the same people, so they wanted to have new writers to give fresh [takes] on what they have.”

She said, “We wanted to make sure that we develop a writing community. Our vision is to launch writers in their fields of interest.” — JLG