Holding a glass of wine will always be associated with a drama from a Filipino perspective.  It caters to the elite and the affluent families with attached rules when drinking.  But the world of today has set aside the “rules” making wine drinking accessible to all. 

“Wine without the drama” is the theme at Planet Grapes.  The usual steaks, cured meats and cheese paired with wine (red or white) is not the typical set-up, as there we were seated to drink wine and feast on --- local street foods in the likes of isaw, balut and kwek-kwek or tokneneng (whatever it’s called).

Cebu City
Level 4 New Wing, Ayala Center Cebu
Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Cebu City
(032) 266-0526/ (032) 262-0515
Business Hours:
Sun-Thurs 11:00am to 11:00pm
Fri-Sat 11:00am to 12:00am

My latest visit to Cebu on a Saturday evening ushered me direct from the airport to Ayala Center Cebu.  The mall was already closed so I passed by the Ayala Terraces leading to the 4th Level of the New Wing where Planet Grapes is located, with my luggage in tow.

As soon as I arrived, my friends were already seated and have familiarized themselves with the “do’s and don’ts” of wine tasting.  The idea to sip a glass of wine is not common for us since a bottle of beer has always been our ally on weekend nights such as this instance.  But being in Planet Grapes did not change our routine, after all there are no dining rules and dramas.

Planet Grapes in Cebu has a cozy atmosphere where interior design is never compromised for a reputation of elegant fine dining.  The consumed wine bottles hang on its ceiling lined up aesthetically as lighting fixtures, as I gazed in amusement while waiting for our food to be served.

After a few minutes, wines were served along with their specialty set of cuisine. Our dining table was graced by local favorites Super Sisig (PhP210.00), Anti-pasto platter (PhP450.00), Balut (PhP45.00), Chorizo de Cebu (PhP80.00), Chicken Isaw (PhP65.00), BBQ Garlic Chicken Wings (PhP125.00) and Mee Goreng (PhP295.00).  Bottles of Merlot 2009 and Sauvignon Blanc 2011 were the highlights of our wine-pairing session.

Fortunately, we were attended by wine-connoisseur servers and a marketing executive from Manila to educate us on wine pairing.  Red wine is to savory meals and white wine to salty meals and desserts.  But after all the explanation and sharing of rules, breaching such rules is encouraged.  Our palates matter more than the conventions.

My personal favorite is the chorizo de cebu paired with white wine.  I have no idea what type of wine it should be paired (as if it matters to me).  The sweetness of chorizo’s flavor complements well with the bland taste of the white wine.  After the main course, the sweetened white wine was then served along with the bestseller desserts: crème brulee sampler (PhP180.00) - rich durian, banana and plain custard base and turon trilogy (PhP165.00) – wrapped thinly sliced banana with caramelized jackfruit.  I love the sweetened white wine that even without any food to pair with, I can definitely manage.

The wine bar has installed a state-of-the-art Italian enomatic machine that allowed customers like us to try the varieties of wine by sip, half-glass and full-glass sizes.  Since I was late in arriving, I wasn’t able to try the same.

Regardless of familiarity with wines, guests would surely enjoy their visit at this shop.  The wine shop provides a friendly and relaxing ambiance unlike other fine dining restaurants that I am accustomed with. 

Shangri-la, Manila
Unit GD 103, North Wing, Shangri-la Plaza Mall,
EDSA cor. Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City
(02) 531-8207/ (02) 532-2950
Business Hours:
Sun-Thurs 11:00am to 12:00am
Fri-Sat 11:00am to 1:00am

The last full show of a horror film was the main target of the group on one weekend.  We decided to watch it at the Shangri-la Mall Cinemas.  But before we went, we heeded the invitation of Planet Grapes for an event to meet Etienne Hugel himself in a guided wine tasting featuring five Hugel wines alongside Planet Grapes’ cuisine.

Hugel is one of the most important wine houses of the world.  We were fortunate to have personally met its 12th generation winemaker, Mr. Etienne Hugel, in charge of marketing their family brand worldwide.  His wife is Japanese, as shared by him, which explains why he loves Asian cuisine so much.  Hugel white wines are said to be perfect for foods making use of chopsticks when eaten.  After the event, we were given specially-made wine glass and chopsticks as souvenirs apt for Planet Grapes’ branding.

Hugel has created a range with three levels of quality: Classic, Tradition and Jubilee.  Classic are wines from grapes purchased from contract growers.  Tradition is from Hugels own land and Jubilee pertains to wines from Grand Crus.  We sampled on five varieties of Hugel white wines and like any other taste test, there will always be a favorite.  And mine was the Hugel Riesling Jubilee.

The line-up of Hugel wines for the night include: 2013 Hugel Gentil (smells like pomelo), 2012 Hugel Riesling (subtle flavor that tastes and smells like lemon), 2008 Hugel Riesling Jubilee (light aroma of lemon and perfect taste with street foods), 2011 Hugel Pinot Gris Tradition (after taste of pistachio and peanuts) and 2012 Huget Gewurtztraminer (aroma and taste is of fruit flavors).

For those not into wines, Planet Grapes’ provides the best street foods there is.  The cuisine is prepared to complement well with their wines.  On our case, the individual platter consist of six set of dish – black cod steak, squid balls, quail eggs (kwek-kwek), Thai spiced crab cakes, dried salted fish and Turon trilogy (which we have tasted in Cebu).

I can’t recall how many servings I had for the quail eggs and turon, much more with the glass of Riesling white wine that I have consumed.  I got tipsy for seconds and even wondered how these servers managed to drink wine almost every day to familiarize themselves with their product.  Alcohol content for these wine mixtures averages up to 17% which is definitely high than a bottle of my favorite beer.

It was a different kind of night nevertheless and we truly enjoyed it.  Cheers!

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