A Toast to San Marino

World-renowned wines of San Marino are now available for local wine drinkers in the Philippines.

A recent wine launching was hosted by San Marino honorary consul-general to the Philippines Jean Henri Lhuillier, who will be opening the republic's consulate at the ground floor of PJL Corporate Center at N. Garcia St. (formerly Reposo) in Bel-Air, Makati. This was the same venue for the wine launch attended by local wine distributors and dealers, hoteliers, restauranteurs, members of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines, the Young Presidents of Organizations and members of the diplomatic corps.

"I take pride in having been given the honor by San Marino to represent the republic here in the Philippines and at the same time promote relations along the trade, culture, sports and tourism, among others, between the two countries, and I believe that promoting their world famous wines is a good first step towards creating more awareness for San Marino," said Lhuillier, whose father Phillippe Lhuillier has long been the Philippine ambassador to Rome.

Small as the republic is and greatly influenced by Italy, San Marino citizens have always possessed a strong sense of identity, taking pride in their unique culture. In the case of their wine making industry, the government established a special association called Consorzio Vini Tipici or Consortium of Traditional Wines in 1976 to provide support to local wine makers.

The Republic of San Marino, landlocked by Italy and one of the smallest republics in the world, has long been known for its high-quality wines, the most famous of which are the Sangioves, a ruby-red strong red wine with a refined, fruity, intense taste with an arome of grape blossoms, and the Biancale, the finest traditional dry white wine of the San Marinese hills.

Biancale is pale yellow with brilliant greenish overtones. It has a soft, well- balanced taste that is a perfect aperitif with fish dishesm salami hors d' oeuvres, as well as rice and pasta.

Othe wines introduced at the wine tasting even were the Tessano, another prestigious red wine that goes well with rich meat dishes and mature cheese, Rosso dei Castelli Sammarinesi, a young red table wine for all seasons that will go well with pasta, chicken and veal, Roncale, taken cold summer dishes, fish-based entress and hors d' oeuvres, and the Bianco dei Sammarinesi, an excellent dry white wine taken between meals.

Among those who graced the exclusive affair were Antonio "Tony" Leviste, consulate general of Palestine; Francisco M. Ortigas III, consulate general of El Salvador; Fausto Presler, consulate general of Costa Rica; Margarita Fores, restaurateur and owner of Cibo; and Humphrey O' Leary, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP).

Filipinos are among the world's chief consmers of alcohol with beer as the general favorite. Wine has always been considered a sophisticated drink for the moneyed class, but in recent years, local wine consumption has gradually risen and Lhuillier is confident that San Marino's wines will soon be a fixture on the Filipino wine drinkers' list.

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