When it comes to viticulture, Philippine’s history of it is relatively young but that doesn’t mean that Filipinos are new to wine making and wine consumption. For centuries, rice wine (among other native drinks) has been produced for traditional ceremonies, merrymaking, and other gatherings.
In contrast to popular rice wines produced in other Asian countries, Philippine rice wines are characterized as moderately sweet to sweet wines with intense alcoholic flavor and a lingering aftertaste.
“Tapuy” (or Tapey) is a rice wine native to Ifugaos (an ethnic group in the northern part of the country). “Pangasi” and “Kulapo” are the southern equivalents and are produced the same way like the Tapuy but each of the three has its own characteristics to tell it apart from its counterparts.
The traditional way of making rice wine does not allow the drink to last long therefore it was not available on the market until recently when, through a tedious research, a way to prolong the wine’s shelf life was discovered. Right now, most of the commercially produced rice wines are available at some of the country’s major wine stores and a small percentage is allotted for export.
Going back to the traditional way of producing Tapuy (I’m from the north so I call it that); this alcoholic beverage is not difficult to make. There are only four ingredients needed—gluteinous rice, bubod (a starch powder that contains yeast), water, and banana leaf. I actually want to do it myself now because it’s been a long time since I last tasted it. I’ve seen how it was done by my grandma so I think I could do it myself too but where do I get banana leaves in Europe? So anyway, it is just as simple as cooking the rice (the regular way) and letting it cool on a clean banana leaf (washed, dried, and slightly smoked) before sprinkling and mixing the bubod. Then, when the bubod is mixed evenly, wrap it with the banana leaf and store it in a clean earthen jar or in a glass container, seal it properly, and put it in a cool, dry, and dark place.
As early as four days, the liquid produced is ready for drinking. The rice grains taste sweet and can be mixed together with the liquid. Normally, the mix is stored from one week up to a month before the consumption. For dinners and other social occasions, a month old (or less) Tapuy is recommended.
A Tapuy mix which is stored for two to five months can yield higher alcohol content compared to common rice wines and should be drunk with caution. Ifugaos, because they are used to this drink, can drink it as they would drink a beer but for non-heavy drinkers, it is better to drink it as you would drink a wine (except for all the fancy glasses, of course). The longer the storing, the higher alcohol content and the bitterer taste will be produced. Tapuy which are older than six months are known to be very bitter and have an alcohol content equal to that of a brandy.
The good thing about this drink is that there are no rules. You don’t have to serve it warm like the Japanese Sake and you don’t have to serve it in fancy glasses like grape wines. You can use a cup if you want it warm or a regular glass if you want it chilled. You can drink it with some of the rice grains from the mix or you could drink it clear. You can basically drink Tapuy like you want it but be careful though because the sweetness hides the alcohol in it and the alcohol effect can last longer than some hard drinks.
Photos by : bigberto
tapuy.jpg : http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigberto/3123438237/
ricegrains.jpg : http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigberto/924700551/in/set-72157623399146933/