Manny Osmena never had a liking for liquor or spirits; in fact, he is allergic to alcohol. The businessman, however, developed the interest, which eventually led him to become a blender of inexpensive but award-winning wines.
His fascination for wine began in the late 1970s when he was into the furniture industry. Then, he just used to collect wines. These wines were important part of his business meetings that are usually served to foreign clients or business partners especially at meals. Despite him being a mere collector and a non-drinker (due to his allergy) he was able to educate people about wine as he read volumes of literature about drinks. Soon the passion became a business.
Initially the vintage blends that come out in 2004 and 2005 were not satisfying. The first Manny O Wine that came to the market was vintage 2006 and that was Discipulus Syrah. Though still a disciple, he was however satisfied with this blend because it was the fruit of a novice wine blender's experimentation.
Blending of wines is an art as it involves mixing single types of grapes aged or fermented in various ways.
Sumiller, the most famous Manny O Wine with 11 international accolades, is blended from pressed Monastrell grapes that are grown in the Spanish region of Yecla. A percentage of grapes that go into Sumiller are aged in oak barrels from different countries. Others are fermented in year-old oak.
Now, Manny O Wines has seven blends that have garnered 49 awards in wine competitions in France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, the United States, and Hongkong. In these events, consumers rated different wine vintages or brands through blind tasting.
The wines Osmena imports from Europe and blends locally are called Bibulus, Discipulus Syrah, Discipulus Blanc, Sumiller, Agapitos Branco, Agapitos Rose, and Celebrus.
"I am the wine blender, there is a winemaker. So when I am blending or proferring a blend for a formulation, the wine maker basically just records what I do until I decide this is the blend that I want them to produce."
Working with the winemaker. The development of these wines was concentrated on achieving a very well integrated juice, layered and complex, yet bound and banded seamlessly.
In the Philippines, total wine consumption as of 2009 was less than 20 million bottles, but is growing from a smaller base, according to Osmena. The Cebuano blender is doing his share to sustain that growth.
"I am democratizing wine. Good wine doesn't have to be expensive. I want people to know that. I want to take the snub out of wine," he says.