It is a fact universally acknowledged that a bride and a groom on the verge of getting hitched and surrounded by a throng of family and friends, will probably suffer a massive collective taste bud malfunction. It’s called nerves.
The main thing is not to over-intellectualise or try to second-guess what others want or expect. It’s your wedding, your vows, your music - and you can cry if you want to! Covering the bases is advisable; a wedding is not the ideal occasion to make a thrilling statement to friends and family about your uncompromising wine tastes. On the other hand, it is your day, so you need to drink what you enjoy and feel like drinking.
How many different wines should you be pouring on the day? How much wine per person should you legislate for? How long is a piece of string? No two events are the same. How much people drink depends on whether it is a stand-up party that carries on for hours, or a more structured sit-down lunch/dinner. If people are driving to and from the wedding venue, then that automatically imposes a limit on consumption. Equally, if the guests are staying overnight in the hotel or locally then they might wish to drink more. If you over-order slightly, then you can start a cellar in your connubial home.
The way you budget for wine at a wedding demonstrates your priorities. Delicious food and wine are of paramount importance to many hosts – it’s not about ostentation rather it is about generosity and attention to quality. A beautifully prepared and presented meal with wonderful wines can be a memory to cherish, part of the foreground as well as the background. The best value wines are therefore not the cheapest, but the ones that deliver the best overall experience for you and your guests. But if you are catering for hundreds of people, then spending can spiral out of control and ordering in lots of amazing wines for a non-receptive audience is a luxury too far.
Do’s and Don’ts
Fizz: Champagne is regarded as a celebration of serious intention, but so many champagnes, even the marques, are pretty indigestible (if we’re honest). A good grower’s champagne, however, made with grapes that have been farmed with care and attention, and with minimal or zero dosage, shows that you have sourced your fizz imaginatively, rather than defaulting to brand. These more vinous champagnes are also appealing with food. For pure jollity, however, we might suggest a pet nat. You can drink these frolicsome bubbles throughout the meal. With loads of primary fruit, youthful appeal and no added sulphur, these sparkling gems deliver value for money as well as being nourishing and moreish.
Whites and reds: Rather than getting bogged down in specifics, here are some general guidelines. Stay clear of oaky and alcoholic wines. Difficult to digest, they also tend to dominate food and coat the palate. Probably best also to avoid white wines with very high acidity, those with high sulphur, reductive reds and whites, and wines with naturally high VA. You are really looking for wines that are relatively understated, go with different types of food, but are ultimately satisfying and delicious.
Sweet/fortified: If you are on a budget then save any money you might spend on sweet wines and plough it into fizz, whites or reds. A good palate-cleansing fizz will do the job just as well. If you have to, invest in a nice single quinta or vintage port. The operative word being single, as in single bottle. There may be one person who will appreciate it!
Recommendations from Les Caves:
Cracking Fizz Throughout the Day!
Pet Nat Vol 1 Fuchs und Hase, Austria or Spumante Metodo Classico Sullerba, Franciacorta, Italy
An Austrian petillant naturel from a young vintage from organically farmed vineyards on cold stony soils. Aromatic, yet complete and mouth filling. An alternative would be a wine from Franciacorta, partly fermented in amphora. A contrasting style, this is cloudy and leesy and bone-dry.
Push the Bubbly Boat out in Style
Recaredo Terrers Brut Nature Gran Reserva, Penedes, Spain or Val Frison Champagne Goustan, France
Proof that Spanish sparkling wines can compete with the best of champagnes. Biodynamic farming, six years on the lees, a beautiful hand-crafted wine. Refined (organically certified) champagne from Val Frison. Rich, expressive fruit notes of white cherry with a wonderfully savoury lip-smacking note all framed by a persistent Chablis like minerality and acidity that keeps everything in harmony.
Utterly Shellfish Wine
Senechaliere VDF Boheme Extra Large, Muscadet, France
Pale yellow with silver highlights. Round, ample, harmonious, supple and fresh, with a slight spritz. Acidity balanced with a lees of life (two years on fine lees) means this VDF from Muscadet is the perfect seafood wine. N.B Extra Large refers to the wines multi-vintage makeup not the size of the bottle…
For Serious Purity
The Story of Harry Chenin, Intellego, South Africa
A whimsically-monickered Swartland old vines Chenin, one that aced a recent Decanter tasting of Best Natural Wines. Beautiful Chenin with quince and apple fruit and glorious tension from the natural acidity. If fish is a wedding menu feature, especially salmon every which way, these two are go-to.
Tripoz Pouilly-Loché 1ère Réserve, Mâconnais, France or Graf Sauvignon Muster, Styria, Austria
Biodynamically certified, a full-bodied and round wine once the tannins of the oak melts. Notes of honey, hazelnut, evolving towards butter. A fabulous natural (but classic) Chardonnay from Southern-Burgundy. Graf (meaning) Count is a prince amongst Sauvignons and one of the greatest versions of this grape we have ever tasted. These are both living wines, which means that they will develop in the glass, so if you are serving your guests vino in plastic beakers… maybe not!
ROSÉ - Pinky and Perky
Apostrophe Rose, Domaine Les Terres Promises, Provence, France
Just because it’s pink doesn’t mean it's vapid. Maybe the one wine to please everyone would be a cracking Provençale rose. It’s dry, it’s refreshing, it’s pretty to look at and it accompanies just about everything from vegetables, to fish to light meats.
Bang for Buck
Pago de Tharsys Medusa Bobal Tinto, Valencia, Spain
Bobal is the grape, and one usually oaked to within an inch of its’ life! Thankfully not the case here, judicious winemaking allows the fruit to do the talking. Cherries, red berries and a herbaceous nose are followed by pure punchy fruit rounded off by smooth integrated tannins.
Natural Safety Harness
Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny Terres Chaudes, Loire or 40/40 Cuarenta Malbec, Aregentina
A pair of naturally made wines that great uncle so-and-so who has crusted port for blood can drink happily. Cab Franc (from Loire legend Thierry Germain) is the grape that Bordeaux lovers can get their head around. It says breeding and elegance and all those other abstract wine descriptors that we associate with class. Whereas Malbec from Mendoza is as safe a bet as any. This Malbec, however, aims (and succeeds) to be elegant and restrained, rather than big n beefy.
A Marry Me! Red
Bow & Arrow Hughes Hollow Pinot Noir, Oregon
Scott Frank of Bow & Arrow is bringing Loire-stylee to Oregon, Loiregon if you will. This personable Pinot is energetic on the nose with intense, mineral-tinged red fruit and floral scents along with hints of blood orange and black tea. Dark cherry and currant fruit meet wet earth, wild herbs, and pipe-tobacco French oak. Turns sweeter on the finish, which hangs on with strong, minerally tenacity.
Interested in finding out more about any of the wines that feature in this piece? Buy online here or contact us directly…
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