This is the time of year when brides-to-be start planning for next spring’s weddings. And, since one of the most common questions that the Wine Curmudgeon gets from blog readers is about choosing wine for weddings, why not a post with just such advice?
Even better, I brought in two other experts ? wedding planner Linda Alpert of suburban Chicago’s Affairs with Linda, and my old pal Mr. Sommelier, who has been doing this sort of thing even longer than I have been writing about wine. And, yes, that is a nom de plume, since Mr. S. has a day job and his bosses might not appreciate this gig.
“They know they’re supposed to have wine, but they’re not sure what to do,” says Alpert, something we’ve heard on the blog before. Thank you, wine business, for confusing your customers. So don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to tell someone you would like them to answer your questions in English, not winespeak.
• The people are attending your wedding because they like you, not because they want to tweet about the wine selection. In this, simple is usually more than sufficient. Make sure the wine more or less pairs with any food you’re serving (whether reception or dinner), make sure there is red and white, and don’t worry about spending trillions of dollars to impress anyone. Most people won’t notice.
• What specific wines to serve? That depends on your budget and local availability. But this is what brands like Rodney Strong, Hess and King Estate do best — give you value for money and quality wine that’s a step above the grocery store stuff.
• Mr. S. has your quantities covered with his interactive Drinks Calculator. Click a few boxes on the web page, and it generates a complete list of what you’ll need. As a rule of thumb, figure on a couple of glasses of wine at dinner.
• Hotels are not in business to help you save money on wine. They’re in business to make as much money as possible, and their markups make restaurants look reasonable. And, says Alpert, how does a $40 corkage fee sound if you want to bring in your own wine? The hotel’s house wine, because of this, is almost always your best bet, she says.
• Caterers, on the other hand, are more flexible, and are more willing to work with you if you want to buy your own, Alpert says.
• Yes, you should serve sparkling wine. And, no, it doesn’t have to be the expensive French stuff. Mr. S. likes prosecco, the Italian bubbly, which is reasonably inexpensive, while regular visitors here know my preference for cava, Spain’s sparkling wine. And, since so many future brides get hung up pouring a big-name Champagnes, the prices hotels charge are gouge-worthy.