Wedding Wines: Choosing and finding the best value wine for your wedding.
Choosing wines for your wedding can be a daunting experience, but it need not be.
Firstly the wine world doesn’t want to tell you this, but most wines can and do actually pair well with most foods! Yes, there are the perfect pairings out there but when it comes to pleasing Grandma who still loves her Liebfraumilch, a family of sweet, German wines that were VERY popular in the 1980s, and again, your pal, Jack, who goes on about his cellar collection of 1982 Bordeaux, the rules for picking your wedding wines are: Keep things simple.
Rule no 1: Do not pick your red or white wines with much oak – Oak flavors in wine can be very polarizing for people’s palates, as well as being generally a richer, more intense wine which can overpower some foods.
Rule no 2: Pick soft, juicy red wines and vibrant, fresh white wines. These are generally inoffensive and easy sippers for all. Here is a list for you:
WHITE: Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner (Austria), Albariño (Spain), Gavi di Gavi (Italy), Picpoul de Pinet (France), Chablis (France)
RED: Merlot, Rioja Crianza (Spain) Pinot Noir (New World countries typically are juicier eg Chile, Argentina, South Africa), Malbec (Argentina), Côtes du Rhône (France)
So where are you going to buy the wines from?
What about going on a booze cruise? A day trip to Calais can be fun, and places like The Calais Wine Superstore or Majestic Calais will pay for your travel, should you spend at least £400. They also have free tasting stations and Majestic even has free glass hire and wine chiller hire for weddings. Petrol is also cheaper (last time I checked) so filling up your car before returning home could make this an even bigger saving. However, do note, that since the wines of the New world (Argentina, Australia, America) have been coming into the UK, the deals in Calais are not as good as they used to be. They will showcase their best offers, but there are lots of wines in the UK that are in fact cheaper than those in France.
NOTE: An Average family car can fit 30 cases of 6 wines (180 bottles)
What about working with a wine merchant and wholesaler? If you are happy to spend a little bit more on each bottle of wine, they will offer you a free sale and return policy so this helps if you don’t want to be stuck with loads of wine at home after your wedding.
NOTE: A rule of thumb is, 1 bottle of wine per person.
What about the supermarkets? Although most of these will not offer you a sale and return policy, throughout the year, they often have the ‘buy 6 or more deal for 25% off’. If you know how much you want to buy, this can sometimes work out the be a very good offer. At Christmas time the deals on Sparkling wines can be incredibly competitive.
NOTE: Sparkling wine is typically for the toast. 1 bottle will serve 6 x 125ml glasses. This is the size you would get in a restaurant. However, often people only drink half a glass. With that in mind, calculate 1 bottle per 6 people as your maximum to purchase.
So, lets finish off with the fizz.
You must decide about the style of your sparkling. If you prefer fun and fruity sparkling, Prosecco from Italy is your wallet friendly option and has always be a great crowd pleaser. If you prefer the drier styles look for a Prosecco that says BRUT on the label. If you want it with a little more sugar content then choose one with SEC or DRY on the label (yes I know, DRY should be drier then BRUT, no?)
If you would like something richer, fuller and with those bready, biscuit flavours that Champagne offers, you need to look for a sparkling wine that says something along the lines of TRADITIONAL METHOD, METODO TRADICIONAL, METODO CLASSICO. Here are my favourite choices below that are made in the same way as Champagne and offer very good value :
Crémant – This is made in 8 different places in France and one area of Luxembourg. If you want one that uses the exact same grape varieties as Champagne, you can choose Crémant de Bourgogne.
Cava – This is Spain’s equivalent to Champagne and 95% is produced in the Penedès area in Catalonia. They use different grape varieties to those in France so sometimes you can have a slightly earthier style, but the richness and yeasty notes will all be there.
MCC – This stand for Méthode Cap Classique which is South Africa’s Sparkling wines made in the same way as Champagne. I am always very impressed by the quality. One of my favourites in currently available on Amazon for less that £10 a bottle and is called Pongracz.