Given its tenor, it appears apt that the Business Mirror wine column of sommelier Cecile Mauricio is called “Fermentations.”
Dictionaries and other forms of available literature define the process either as a breakdown or a simplification of something. And this is what Mauricio has been doing in recent years through her work as a writer.
Using the column which started running in 2008, Mauricio recounts her numerous experiences with various wine products both in the Philippines and beyond. Through this, she brings focus to the countless passionate minds that fuel its governing industry, casts spotlights on familiar issues and scenarios that revolve around it, and makes wine, in general, more accessible. Surely, wine remains a premium product to this day and the process of its creation remains painstakingly complicated, but the voice of “Fermentations” rhapsodizes more on relatable subject matters of a product that people, at times, find intimidating.
The column also complements Mauricio’s other job. As of the writing of this article during the first week of December, Mauricio was serving as the wine consultant for Chateau 1771, the Philippines’ more than two decade French bistro—a fitting employer for Mauricio who, during her interview with asianTraveler, held the French responsible for her love of wine. In this post, it was among Mauricio’s tasks to organize wine lists and source wines from distributors and producers.
All things considered, people like her are responsible for the current state of things in local dining.
It’s a good time for sommeliers in the Philippines. Countless restaurants regardless of size are now serving wine to a public more interested in its consumption. And for this edition of The Lounge, Mauricio maintains the tone of her “Fermentations” column by spilling the truths about an exciting and inviting industry.
What are the most important things that you always consider whenever you are developing a wine list for your clients?
Market demographics, menu, price points, the stories behind the wine. The wine list will have to be as interesting to the client (in terms of price points and selections) as it has to be relevant to the restaurant’s menu. Fresh oysters and kare-kare on the menu? The wine list should carry suitable pairings at different price points.
How is the market for wine consultancy these days?
Opportunities abound for those with solid qualifications.
What would you say is the current state of wine in the Philippines? Is it on the rise, has it stagnated, or is it going down?
Wine sales are brisk. And up. There are definitely more wine drinkers now—and naturally more places where to drink it. (Along the restaurant row in Kapitolyo [Pasig], I’ve come across really small restaurants that offer wine).
What would you say are the prime factors behind this current state?
The visibility of wine. Plus its accessibility. And the power of wine apps on your mobile phone.
Do you think it is possible for wine to play an important role in the country’s economy and tourism?
Absolutely. With all the excellent restaurants in and out of Manila, the Philippines is a dining destination. Plus the tax on wine is still relatively low and bearable here, so wine can be had at really good prices, both in stores and in restaurants.
Looking beyond the Philippines, what are your favorite wine-producing countries and why?
I don’t play favorites, but I am currently drinking Italian red, white and bubbly.
What sparked your passion for wine, and why did you decide to pursue it professionally?
The French language sparked it. When one learns a language, one learns about that country’s culture too. And because wine is so much a part of the French, I had to go beyond learning how to pronounce all the chateau names. After that, I had become so fascinated by the subject I had to know more, hence the formal classes.
What manner of training did you go through for your job?
I went overseas: to drink wine, visit the vineyards, meet the winemakers and take wine classes.
What are the pros and cons of your profession?
More pros than cons. The wonder of drinking wine with the person who made it. The excitement of tasting wine that still has to be released on the market. The sense of fulfillment when a client is wowed by a food and wine pairing combination. Working very late nights is a disadvantage, especially when I need to get up early the next day to do my early morning workout.
What was the most memorable bottle of wine you have purchased, and where did you acquire it?
That nameless bottle of red, bought off a vendor in the farmer’s market, which we then drank from paper cups. At lunch. In the park. In Paris.