Wedding Wine Tips

I’ve been spending a number of evenings over the past few months scouting some potential wines for my wedding. Lots of wine merchants and websites give tips for buying wedding wine. Tips on how much to buy, what should the split of red/white be etc. have proved to be quite useful but much of the other information seems to be targeted at people who have absolutely no knowledge of wine or have no interest in finding anything other than the cheapest, drinkable white and red that they can lay their hands on. I’m guessing that if you are reading a wine blog, you, like I, don’t fit into this category so I thought I might share some of the best tips that I came across during my hunt. Next week, I’ll give some notes on some of the good wines I found during my tastings.

  • Find a good wine merchant –Yes, you can get on a ferry to France or Britain or drive to Northern Ireland but unless you are having hundreds and hundreds of guests and therefore hundreds and hundreds of bottles of wine (or are also stocking up your cellar), you aren’t saving a huge amount of money. Trust me, I’ve done the maths! Apart from the fact that you are supporting local business, which arguably is good reason enough, you’ll get much more help and advice from your local merchant who views you as a potential return customer than from a cashier in Le Havre or Calais. Buying local gives you the opportunity to try several wines over the months leading up to your wedding too which is part of the fun! Plus, you should be able to get full sale or return on the wine.
  • Try not to be too cool – Every serious wine drinker that I know delights in finding an uncommon grape variety or blend that challenges and surprises even the most experienced of palates. Resist the temptation! Challenging and surprising does not guarantee enjoyment for the majority, so now is not the time to introduce your long lost aunt to the delights of Cerasuolo di Vittoria. Unlike many wine merchants/suppliers, I’m not advocating placating the lowest common denominator either though. If you like Sangiovese or Sémillon and have found wines that fit your budget and you think would go down well with most of your guests etc., don’t let anyone convince you to serve Merlot or Pinot Grigio. Believe me, people will try!
  • Bubbles – Sparklers are important but frequently neglected. Wine merchants won’t tell you this and it really, really, really, pains me to say but my experience is that the corkage charge on sparkling wines is usually so punitive that unless you can really bargain the venue down or their house offering is awful, you might be better to go with it than bring in your own. Chances are that it’s a passable, if somewhat uninteresting, Prosecco. The situation is further complicated by the fact that, in Ireland at least, many venues will offer a sparkling wine reception as part of an overall wedding price package and although they’ll allow you to bring in your own Champagne/Prosecco/Cava, they won’t reduce your overall cost, thus hitting your wallet twice (once for the corkage on your wine and a second time for their Prosecco that you are declining).
  • Don’t serve something different at the top table – Bizarrely, this was suggested to me by many people. Some people say ‘this is our big day and we want to drink something special at the top table’, I hear ‘I’m serving you cheap crap that I wouldn’t dare drink myself’. There are 364 other days in the year to drink those first growths.