When French wine connoisseur Kevin Charuel and his Filipino wife Adrienne moved to New York City in 2016, they thought of the best way to meet new people and build friendship – with the help of wine and food.
“We thought it was a great way to make new friends as we moved into a new city,” Kevin shared with Breakfast PH.
As the brand ambassador for a French wine and spirits group, he used his expertise in different types of wine, spirits (cognac, whisky, rum, etc.), and cocktails (classic, stirred, gin-based, etc.) as a way to make new friends. Meanwhile, Adrienne – an artist and a foodie at heart – brought the food element to pair with the drinks. These gatherings soon turned into The Tasting Club.
“This is how the concept was born originally: sharing knowledge about wine, spirits and cocktails with delicious food pairings in a social and friendly atmosphere… We started this project originally to meet new friends and share about good food and good drinks,” Kevin recalled.
He adds, “It isn’t purely academic, even if we can get into details depending on the group of attendees, but we don’t host ordinary tasting events to only drink, eat and socialize. You get to learn through insightful conversations.”
The fun and informative dinner gatherings of The Tasting Club that started in New York continued when the couple moved to the Philippines. The fool-proof combination of great wine, great food, and great company proved effective no matter the continent. After all, there’s nothing like a great dinner to bring people together.
“Our goal for each event is essentially to offer a new tasting experience and bring more appreciation knowledge. We want our guests to explore new tasting sensations and learn more about what they discover and enjoy,” Kevin shared, pointing out that The Tasting Club events change regularly depending on a certain theme.
Every month, The Tasting Club hosts two to three events. The two regular events are their Wine Appreciation Workshop and their Weekend Wine Therapy, both of which are conducted in partnership with wine bars in the metro. Once in a while, they host tasting events working with great chefs the likes of Aissa Nable-Montecillo (Apartment 1B), Nicolas Diaz (Barcino), and Marc Aubry (Sagana).
“The Wine Appreciation Workshop … is a regular general introduction to wine tasting and food pairings, [while the] Weekend Wine Therapy … is a monthly rendezvous with a different theme every month,” Kevin explains, sharing previous themes like French Wine & Cheese and Sparkling Wines.
This quarter, The Tasting Club is launching a new monthly workshop in partnership with Wine Depot and Apotheke Craft Spirits. The workshop will focus on fine spirits and cocktails.
“Filipinos have been responding very positively to the concept so far and it’s great!” Kevin beamed. “This follows the global trend, which pushes consumers to understand better what we drink to appreciate more how it is elevated with the food pairings,” the Parisian wine specialist shared.
With the burgeoning food scene in Metro Manila, more and more people are excited to try new things – including wines, spirits, and cocktails.
“It also helps a lot to bring the food dimension as locals are fond of good food in the Philippines. Our events are fully booked most of the time because our approach is appreciated and also because we have limited seating to offer a more cozy intimate memorable experience,” Kevin points out.
It is one of their goals to encourage locals to enjoy and learn more about wines and spirits that some people may find intimidating. This way, the veil of mystery is removed and people can just enjoy the drink and have a great time.
Kevin adds, “Since the Philippines is not traditionally a wine market (as other countries in Asia) but the market is booming today, I feel that locals want to learn more about this type of drink that can seem intimidating. This is the same thing with spirits and cocktails as drink enthusiasts want to learn more about craft and quality spirits.”
Upcoming events by The Tasting Club:
Whiskies of the World Masterclass (Apartment 1B Salcedo Village on February 22)
Cocktail 101 Workshop (Wine Depot Makati on February 24)
Cocktail 101 Workshop (Wine Depot Alabang on February 25)
Wine Appreciation Workshop (Tauro Pintxos Makati on March 14)
Bordeaux Wine Tasting (Dr. Wine Poblacion on March 28)