FIRST OF ALL, hearty congratulations on your upcoming wedding – it’ll be great. When it comes to wine for the big day, don’t fret; no one talks about it at the time and no one remembers it afterwards – people are too busy socialising and having the craic. That said, getting the wine right isn’t difficult.
• The wines: Aim for crowd pleasers. It’s great that your favourite grape is Gewurztraminer or Pinotage but a wedding isn’t the place for exotic, statement-making wine choices. You don’t have to opt for super-safe Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot, but at least stick to safe wine styles – dry, fresh, fruity whites; and soft, fruit-forward reds with modest tannins. Your friendly local wine merchant (ahem) will be able to guide you.
• Bubbles: You’ll need sparkling wine for the drinks reception and / or toast but there is no need to choose “proper” Champagne unless you’re unusually flush. Cremant (French sparkling wine from non-Champagne regions) is often as good, and far cheaper. Spanish Cava can be lovely, and is only half the price of a standard NV Champagne. Italian Prosecco (less acidic, and sweeter than the wines above) is cheaper again, and can be had for as low as €10-€12 a bottle.
• How many bottles? Some guests will hardly have any wine; others, as we know, will really get stuck in. The rule of thumb that seems to work well enough is “half a bottle per person.” But maybe round up to the next full case to give yourself a buffer – proper wine merchants always do ‘sale or return’ anyway.
• Matchmaking: Don’t stress over food and wine matching as there’ll be lots of different dishes on offer and no one wine is going to “match” everything. Most table wines are fairly versatile anyway. Food writer Ernie Whalley says that food and wine matches are in fact a lot like marriages – 5% are made in heaven, 5% are made in hell, and the rest can be made to work. So relax!
• The corkage game: Negotiate corkage before you agree to give the hotel your business as you’re obviously in a much weaker position on this front once you’ve formally gotten into bed with them.
• Wine service: You could choose the best of Burgundy and Bordeaux for your wedding but if the hotel serves it in sad glassware and / or at the wrong temperature people’s drinking experiences are going to be compromised. So chat to wedding coordinator and satisfy yourself that the glasses are some way decent and that the hotel can ensure the whites are served properly chilled, and the reds not overly warm.
See WeddingWines.ie for more information.