Choosing Your Wedding Wines

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Now the sun is finally here, thoughts tend to turn to garden parties, BBQs and weddings.  There is also a small matter of a Royal Wedding coming up this weekend!

Planning your wine can feel really daunting but it shouldn’t be tough – it should be one of the fun bits!  When I was running a wine school, I had many a bride come to me for advice and even had a couple bring along both sets of parents, so they could learn more about wine before choosing those that they would serve on their big day!

In many cases, you don’t get much of a choice – you just have to go with what’s on offer at the venue.  For others there is choice and for some this is terrifying – choices are bad, it means you have to choose.  If there’s no choice, then there’s no problem, right?  Don’t panic, it’s really not all that difficult.  There are a few tips for you here to get you thinking about table wine:

  1. Most importantly – it’s your wedding, choose the wine YOU like.  Don’t worry about what your best friend Sarah or Great Aunty Margaret likes: if you’re paying for the table wine, they’ll get what they’re given.  If they don’t like it, they can drink something else.  Chances are though, if you like it, so will they but it’s your day and you need to like the wine you’re serving.  This is also incredibly important when you are buying the wine yourself.  When supplying the wine for your own wedding most people over order (who wants to run out on the day, right?)  This means that, for the foreseeable future, you and your true love will be drinking your wedding wine until the end of days – if you don’t like it then that’s a tough one to swallow (literally!)
  2. You can’t please everybody, so don’t go into choosing your wine thinking about everyone else.  As a follow on from the above, there is not a one-size fits all solution with wine.  There will be someone that doesn’t like the wine you have chosen.  It is up to them to make a choice – drink it, or don’t.  If you like it then that’s what matters.  I’m a qualified wine tutor and I have had people tell me how excited they are to come and drink the wine at my wedding.  Believe me, even my choices will disappoint someone!  
  3. Wine and food pairing can be a very delicate business and there are people that do it for a job.  You are not those people, and this is not a wine pairing exercise, it’s your wedding.  As long as you are offering a white and a red then let your guests choose if they want to pair the Malbec with the fish or the Sauvignon Blanc with the steak – it’s their palate, leave them to decide what to do with it.
  4. Finally, if you’re on a budget and need to stick to the lower price bracket of the wine list or you just don’t have any options, keep in mind that people are there to see you, not to assess the quality of your offerings. I’ve been to a few weddings where the wine was awful, but I drank it anyway (it was free) and, after the meal, I dutifully went around “wine-sweeping”, collecting half empty bottles from other tables to make sure none of it was wasted.  It’s wine.  It’s free.  It’s a party.  No wedding has ever been ruined because people didn’t like the wine so just stop worrying and get on with the fun!

Your other consideration is obviously Sparkling wine for canapes and toasts.  Most people feel fairly confident here however, when it comes to price, Champagne can really add some cost to your big day.  If you’re looking for something a little more affordable or you just want to do something a little different then there are a number of options open to you:

  1. Cava:  Sparkling wine from Spain.  Mainly made from the Xarel-lo, Parellada and Macabeo grapes but made in the same way as Champagne which gives it that biscuit and bread note similar to that found in Champagne
  2. Prosecco:  Sparkling wine from Italy.  Peachy and lighter than Champagne, this has become a firm favourite however, for some, it has now become every day drinking and may not feel as special
  3. Crémant:  Sparkling wine from France.  Outside of the Champagne region there are many different sparkling varieties which are made from different grapes – all crémant regions are worthy of note however I tried a fabulous Crémant d’Alsace at The Wine Society’s Sparkling Wine walkaround this week which really blew me away – see it here
  4. New World Sparkling:  Namely Australia and New Zealand.  Always nice to get something in that is close to your heart.  Maybe you met backpacking around Australia or you’re going there on your honeymoon of a lifetime.  New World Sparklings can be very wonderful indeed and, from a pricing perspective, are also very affordable.

And, don’t forget, English Wine!  We will be serving English Sparkling wine at our wedding next year and, if you do have the luxury of choice at your wedding, why not do something different and choose English Sparkling for your toast wine too – I promise you, you won’t regret it.


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