Impressive Wines: Is White the New Red?

We ask a few experts who know and enjoy their wines to share their thoughts.

Frequently thought of by many—and erroneously so—as the less noble cousin of  its red counterpart, white wine has been overlooked and underrated for way too long. Many sage wine collectors believe, however, that a prized bottle of a great white is not only something that can give unparalleled joy in a glass, it is also often highly collectible—think white Burgundy from the Côte de Beaune or Chablis, a rare German Riesling from Mosel or Rheingau, a dry white Bordeaux from Château Haut Brion or Domaine de Chevalier, or a rare aged bottle of Sauternes from Château d’ Yquem. When it comes to pairing wine and food, a glass of white wine, whether crisp and straw-colored or buttery and golden, offers fantastic acidity and refreshment without the intensity due to less tannins and alcohol. Although many great whites can age a lifetime, most whites can be enjoyed in their youth—now what’s not to love about that?

Gigi Montinola
Maître, Commanderie de Bordeaux Manila


For the Philippines, a good white is great during a hot lunch or as the first drink at a cocktail party. Some prefer a fruity sauvignon blanc as a standalone drink, while others prefer a dry chardonnay or chablis with seafood.

For meals, however, I still prefer the variety and subtle complexity of reds, particularly Bordeaux reds. Just as we all have different tastes in food, I like the idea of being able to pair so many types of good reds, whether Left Bank or Right Bank, Grand Cru or Bordeaux Superieur, expensive or value wines with special occasion and everyday food. Call me a traditionalist, but I still prefer reds to whites for my personal taste. Bordeaux Toujours Bordeaux! Life is too short to drink bad wine.

Ailene Litonjua
Banker and lover of travel, food, and wine

Despite the fact that I am an antioxidant-loving red wine drinker, white wine is fast evolving to be a drink of choice, especially in Manila. Considering that the average chilling of white wine is eight degrees, you need not go far to know why wine drinkers here, who have on average an all-year- round climate of 30 degrees Celsius, would opt for white.

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When it comes to taste, look at Château Haut-Brion blanc 2010, with its intense bouquet of floral and citrus, and you would open up your palate to whites. Not only is it richly complex in taste with impressive length and breadth, but also in history, Château Haut-Brion having been written about not only as possibly being purposed for the discerning palates for the Englishman as notated in the 1600s, by Samuel Pepys, but also considered by Thomas Jefferson, then American minister to France, as among the first estates of first quality.

Chateau de Saint Cosme, Artisan Cellar Door, 2276 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati, 880.0619; Maison Louis Jadot, Bacchus Epicerie, Power Plant Mall, 895.5646; La Manufacturie, Bacchus Epicerie, Maison Dampt, Premium Wine Exchange, 2294 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati, 812.3823.

CJ Juntereal
Food and wine columnist


I say yes, because I’m a white wine drinker, and because I tend to believe Jancis Robinson, wine columnist at the Financial Times, who recently wrote about the increasing number of serious dry whites emerging from Bordeaux. Generally though, I believe that the average Filipino leans toward red wine. Much of that probably has to do with all the articles that say red wine is healthy for you, and the perception that red wine is a more serious drink.

This past summer, I’ve seen more people choose white wine at parties. For our climate, I think white wine is a better option. I’d rather spend the day at the beach or by the pool with a chilled glass of white than a big, heavy red. A lot of our food such as fresh seafood, the tart flavors of vinegar or calamansi-based dishes, even the fattiness of lechon, works well with the crisp minerality of sauvignon blanc, or with off-dry, fruit-forward wines like riesling or gewürztraminer. One of the best pairings I’ve had with Filipino food, sinuglaw, kinilaw, sisig, black squid ink rice, was an off-dry prosecco.

Eric Recto
Co-proprietor, Premium Wine Exchange

Quality white wines have always been savored by most wine connoisseurs at almost the same level of enthusiasm as red wines. The fact is that good white wines have not been produced in as much abundance as red wines—which is simply a result of there being a lot more red grapes under cultivation. Therefore, the marketing machinery of the wine industry has focused on pushing red wines.

I am a big fan of well-made white wines and Champagne, which is really just white wine with bubbles, especially for drinking in our tropical climate. I repeatedly qualify with “well-made” and “quality” since there is a lot of pretty horrid stuff being sold out there. Therein lies the challenge, I think, in the search of good white wine. Of late, more wine retailers have stocked up on the good stuff and that leads to a better consumer experience. Access is key and the more people appreciate a good bottle of white, the more it will be made available.

My personal preference is white wine from the Burgundy region of France, made almost exclusively from the chardonnay grape, though there is also the aligoté grape that is used sparingly. Let me just put Chablis and Meursault out there for your consideration. I also really enjoy sauvignon blancs from the Loire and rieslings from Germany and Alsace. I could go on and on and on—did I mention Champagne already? One last point I should make to drive home the point about my like for white wine—I have, on occasion, actually opened a good bottle of white wine over an equally good bottle of red wine to accompany a meat dish.


Maison Louis Jadot, Bacchus Epicerie, Paul Pernot, Premium Wine Exchange, Staglin Family Vineyard, Premium Wine Exchange, Mount Eden, Premium Wine Exhange, M. Chapoutier, Premium Wine Exchange.

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About The Author
Alicia Colby Sy
Alicia Colby Sy is the former Executive Editor of Town & Country Philippines.
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