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Philippine snacks need ample wine

THE initial Malayo-Polynesian then Austronesian influences on Filipino cuisine brought the basic ingredients, while the Spanish brought chili peppers, tomatoes, corn and potatoes. Modern Filipino cooking is an amalgamation of many cooking styles from the East and West offering some of Asia's most intriguing flavors and textures. With as many as five meals in a day, the snack culture of this island nation is particularly rich and varied. Tasty by themselves, these snacks are even more delicious when enjoyed with the right wines.

Counterpoint is often a feature in Filipino snacks with sweet ingredients being paired with salty foods. Champorado is a sweet rice porridge that is often enjoyed with sun-dried, salted fish. This popular snack is delightful with fruity Australian white wines like the Brown Brothers Chardonnay from Victoria or the Circle Collection Pinot Grigio. In both cases the wines have ample ripe fruit flavors that complement the sweet rice while also offering good acidity that's perfect with the salted fish.

Another snack that partners nicely with light red wines is empanada, a pastry stuffed with savory meats. My pick would be a young Chianti wine. The fresh red fruit flavors of the Coltibuono Cetamura Chianti DOCG or the Ruffino Chianti DOCG not only distinguishes the freshly baked flavors of the pastry but also adds elegance to the meat mixture while facilitating digestion.

The popular puluton snacks are the equivalent of Western finger foods. These are some of my favorite snacks to pair with wines. Usually enjoyed with beer or liquor, they become even more delicious with wine. Three classic puluton snacks are salted, fried pork rinds, deep-fried pig intestines and salted, deep-fired chicken skin. While certainly delicious, the grease content of these snacks begs for a robust red wine with ample tannins to cut through the grease like the Telmo Rodriguez Dehesa Gago Consecho from Toro, Spain. This deliciously rich and smooth Spanish red not only facilitates digestion but also highlights the original meat flavors.

BBQ meats and innards are also popular Filipino snacks that taste better when enjoyed with wines. Here I would suggest red wines from another country that knows something about BBQ treats, Australia. Try a fruity and slightly spicy Aussi red wine like the Torbreck Old Vines GSM or Wolf Blass Yellow Label Shiraz.


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