The Adobo Connection 1

Adobo is one of the Philippines’ most popular, most versatile home-cooked dishes. It comes in many, many forms – pure chicken adobo, pure pork adobo, a combination of both, squid (adobong pusit), adobo puti, adobo flakes etc… More gourmet options include lamb adobo, or ultra reduced sauce. But the basic components are consistent: choice of meat marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves and peppercorns. The number of variations boil down to the ratio of soy sauce and vinegar and how saucy you want it.

Talk is, among local wine aficionados, that Filipino food is quite a challenge to pair wine with. I cannot yet agree or disagree as I personally have not had many encounters with pairing wine with our local cuisine. While I am a fan of Filipino food (OMG. Pancit in all its glory!), I have fallen into the trap of only pairing wine with food that’s expected to pair well with wine. Also, I can’t cook Filipino food.

Last week though, my French boss decided to learn how to cook Filipino food. On the menu were adobo and pancit canton. He was awfully proud of having learned this and decided to make adobo for our office for a casual lunch. And as his wine cleanse was ending yesterday, he asked me to pick a bottle of wine that could work with adobo. Lucky for me, I also just ended my meat cleanse so I happily took part in this experiment.


The wine I chose is Scala Dei Garnatxa 2015, a wine from one of the lesser known regions in Spain. It is a tiny, mountainous  wine-making region south of Barcelona called Priorat.

I chose this because wines from this region, tend to be quite concentrated, but well-structured due to qualities of one of the primary grape varieties grown here, which is Grenache, better known as Garnacha in Spain. This grape has very ripe black fruit flavors profiles – think plums, blackberries, prunes. It is generally slightly higher in alcohol (usually around 14%) content because of its ripeness resulting from the amount of sun this place gets. If you’re looking for a big, bold, jammy, fruit-forward wine, a grenache-dominant wine is a great option. Another reason I picked this is that the dominant aromas of wine from this region, apart from the ripe fruits, are smoky, salt notes. And to my very pinoy nose, wines from here remind me of soy sauce. And as food and wine pairing go, finding complementary flavor profiles or totally opposite can promise a good match.

My verdict: the adobo version made yesterday was made with Kikkoman soy sauce, which is lighter in flavor than that of local varieties. It was more acidic as the soy sauce was less in part relative to the vinegar, which was the intention of the chef. The final product was a flavorful, quite balanced, but more on the adobo puti style. Although the flavors married well in my palate, I found this wine a tad bit too heavy for this particular style of adobo.

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