Philippine Daily Inquirer
Lifestyle Section

by Gem Padilla

THEY say bad times boost beer sales. If this is true, beer companies are probably making a killing right now. Surprisingly, despite the current political and economic upheavals, bars, restaurants and all kinds of clubs are sprouting left and right. These entrepreneurs probably heard about the beer sales, too. Or maybe, Filipinos just like to drink.

Enter In Vino Veritas wine shop and tasting room. Its owners claim that it is the country's first wine bar.

But a wine bar? Here? Well, hey, who would have thought that with the warm climate, Manila would become coffee-drinking city?

New Concept

The concept of a wine bar is fairly new in the country. Owners John and Carla Maramara and Yvette and David Almendral though of opening one after noticing that there were no places in Manila that carried really wide variety of wines and doubled as a place to meet and talk with friends. So with that, In Vino Veritas formally opened December 9.


vino veritas



THOSE who take time to smell the roses and savor the wine also enjoy their lives.







Something new indeed. But that isn't the hook. Upon setting foot in the small shop at the Alabang Town Center, one finds the minimalist interior elegant and relaxing (also code for non-threatening, which is a plus for those who are ignorant about wine). Praises for this feat should go to Popi Laudico.

The food, wine and wine accessories are reasonably priced, the staff, a friendly bunch. The music ranges from chill-out to acid and classic jazz, which is fantastic for conversation (why shout at each other?) and quite good for meeting up with friends. This is and excellent place to bring a date to.

"Life is complicated," according to David Almendral, one of the owners. "Let's simplify it. That is why we chose the name In Vino Veritas, a Latin saying for 'In wine there is truth.' We'd like to take wine drinking down a few levels. Most people tend to be intimidated by all the formalities and etiquette regarding wine drinking. We think it should be much simpler than that. Really all anyone needs to know is that if it tastes good, drink it."

Not just wine drinking but a a culture of wine is what these young entrepreneurs would like to introduce here in the Philippines, having taken note that many Alabang residents are from countries where drinking wine is an everyday occurrence. For them, "wine is no something you consume when you're out with friends at night but something you can have in the middle of the day with lunch or whenever you want to unwind. It's great to walk by during the day and see someone reading the paper, enjoying a glass of champagne. It is like the wine version of the café.

Situated right beside Starbucks at the Alabang Town Center, In Vino Veritas, it seems, would like to do to wine what its neighbor did for coffee. "Well there's no doubt Starbucks helped introduce Filipinos to the coffee culture," says Yvette Almendral. "About three years ago, most people drank coffee in hotel lobbies late at night. They didn't care if it was served as a cup of hot water and a bag of instant ground. The difference is that Starbucks took coffee and made it a status symbol. We're taking the status symbol of wine and saying hey, it's for everybody."

Widest variety

In Vino Veritas is primarily a wine shop. According to the owners, most wine shops carry only their own labels, or wine they import themselves. "Our idea was and is to offer the widest variety of wines possible. This meant bringing in some of our own brands but sourcing a great deal locally to ensure we had the widest variety possible."

In their shop is a 24-hour temperature controlled wine storage, a wide variety of gift packages and wine accessories, competitive retail prices plus free delivery for purchases over P750.


vino veritas

IN-SHOP temperature-controlled wine storage

There is no full kitchen in In Vino Veritas because the owners "never wanted to try and compete with the restaurants around," but they have developed a menu that compliments wine and is very consumer friendly. Rather than offer pre-selected cheese plates, they let the customers choose from a variety of meats, cheeses and tapanades, as well as some foccacia sandwiches and pastas. Their salmon lasagna is popular. They also have a full bar for those who'd like to try something else. Their lychee martini is turning out to be a crowd-pleaser.

So what's the big fuss about wine and how are we catching on? "Actually, there has been a huge trend toward wine since the early '90s. Over the past few years, wine drinking has caught on in Hong Kong. I think the Philippines is just now catching on," says David.

Wine bars have been hugely popular in Europe and in the US. A number of recent studies have boosted the public's perception of wine as part of a healthier lifestyle. Wine, after all, has very few calories and plenty of antioxidants, and has been linked to reductions in the risk of Alzheimer's disease, lower arthritis pain, cancer and neurological diseases, kidney problems and strokes.


vino veritas




ALABANG'S newest wine bar







Taken in moderation, it may even help prevent ulcers. The Harvard School of Public Health reported that wine was more effective at reducing kidney stones than any other beverage they tested. Harvard also sanction drinking 8 oz. Of wine per day as part of a healthy diet.

Perhaps the healthiest thing about wine drinking is that those who take time to smell the roses and savor the wine also enjoy their lives. At In Vino Veritas, keeping things simple seems to be the rule.

The last word from David: "We'd like to give people a nice place to relax in, whether it's the middle of the day at the tail end of a dinner-movie-drink date. In other words, take time to enjoy your day. Simplify life. The first step is to get the cork out of the bottle-we'll even do that for you. Get the wine in your mouth and if you like the taste, have more. Oh yeah, and if you don't like it, get another bottle and repeat steps one through three." Amen.