For socially distanced party: Take virtual wine and cheese pairing class

December 3, 2020by Raoul J. Chee Kee0

In his previous postings as the F&B director at Admiral Hotel Manila and as F&B manager at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, French national Tanguy Gras was able to impart his knowledge of wine to customers. He periodically held wine appreciation classes for groups as disparate as lovers of the grape and even bridal shower guests.

He and his wife, the fashion designer Happy Andrada, recently put up an online wine store that they christened H&T Wine Gallery. He’s mainly in charge of the wines, while her hand can be seen in the charming illustration of a mustachioed man holding aloft a wine glass next to a woman with an oversize floral brooch pinned to her green jacket.

Stylish couple Tanguy Gras and Happy Andrada —Photos by Raoul J. Chee Kee

Aside from offering a selection of hand-picked wines and deli items like bottled jams and cheeses, the H&T site also has informative videos, and will begin offering online wine and cheese pairing classes. Prior to their first class on Dec. 12, Gras gave a sneak peek to select lifestyle media.

We were sent a box with two full-sized bottles of La Tournée red and white wine from Ferraton, five cheese wedges, two mini jams (peach rosemary and blueberry Sichuan) and two small baguettes dusted with poppy seeds. Andrada gave the box her special touch with a posy of dried flowers in shades of blue and seafoam green.

To appreciate the differences of the cheeses, Gras instructed us to arrange them from mildest to most eye-wateringly pungent.

Five steps

For the wines, he has five steps, which we obediently followed: See, swirl, sniff, sip and savor.

He told us to check the clarity of the wine, whether it had “legs” as it dripped down the inside of the glass. The longer it took for the wine to drip, the more syrupy it was. When he sipped, he did it through his teeth, the sound he made was similar to the sound one makes when slurping hot broth.

“With this, we can already get an idea of what aromas, flavors and textures can be found in the wine, and add those to our own experience,” Gras said.

The package of wine, cheese, jams and bread that Lifestyle media received from H&T Wine Gallery for an online wine and cheese pairing class

Earlier, he said he developed his taste for wine by first reading wine reviews to find out what aromas were present, and then trying to spot those once he had the chance to sample the wine himself. He described the white as having a vegetal aroma, something like cut grass. “The aroma is one that people who play soccer will identify instantly,” Gras said.

The cheeses we tried included Majorero Marco Natural, a rare one made from the unpasteurized milk of Majorera goats raised on Fuertevertura in Spain’s Canary Islands. Its milky flavor and crumbly texture paired well with the white wine.

Gras keeps the class interesting with amusing anecdotes, including one on French epicure and gastronome Jean Anthem Brillat-Savarin who was supposed to have said, “A meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman with one eye.”

“It was his way to make a point on the importance of cheese for the French,” Gras said. His misogynistic tendencies aside, Brillat-Savarin lives on because he has a cheese named after him. We didn’t get to sample the soft-ripened triple cream cow’s cheese, but Gras said that he intends to come up with different selections of cheeses for succeeding classes.

“Drink wine, eat cheese; that’s what you have to do,” he said. INQH&T Wine Gallery’s next online wine and cheese class is at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12. Tel. 0917-1752779; visit

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