One of the most frequent requests I get is for recommendations of wines to serve at a wedding. As with any other occasion, it depends on the sort of event, time of year, how much you want to spend, and the age group you’re talking about. A small wedding with about 30 friends will be considerably easier to cater for than a big bash for 150.
Also, many weddings now involve multiple meals – which may well feature something like a barbecue or a hog roast, rather than the traditional sit-down lunch or supper. A lot of the time, it’s a question of drinking what you’d normally drink.
The main thing you need to decide is whether you want to play it safe or make a bit of a statement. Safe, in wedding terms, means prosecco, a good-value sauvignon blanc and merlot (probably Chilean), and champagne for the toast. But you don’t necessarily have to give people what they expect. It’s your day, after all.
Personally, I think it’s better to drink local, where you can. It might be an enjoyable element of pre-wedding planning to go around the breweries, wineries and cider-makers near the venue and taste what they’ve got to offer. The other day, I stumbled across the cider barn at the Barley Wood Walled Garden just outside Bristol and discovered a fantastic bottle of conditioned, keeved (naturally sweetened), off-dry cider (£7.50, from The Ethicurean restaurant; 6%) which would be great with a hog roast.
Certainly, if you’re getting married in the southern half of the country, it makes sense to serve English fizz rather than champagne. Sharpham’s sparkling elderflower (see panel below), is a distinct step above most elderflower drinks, and delicious, too.
The main problem, obviously, is keeping the cost down. Caterers often press to supply the wine, and it’s tempting to agree, to make life simple, but at least compare the cost of what they’re proposing with similar wines from elsewhere. If it were my wedding, I’d go for a specific appellation such as picpoul de pinet or beaujolais rather than an unspecified “pays d’oc” or chardonnay, say. Most caterers say you need more red than white, but I’m not so sure these days.
If the decision is still stressing you out, bear in mind what one wine merchant told me: “No one remembers what wine they had at a wedding, so decent-tasting and honest liquid is what it’s all about.” Just make sure the vintage they’re supplying is the same one you tasted.
Four drinks to serve at a wedding
Alexander Hadleigh £26.29, Mr & Mrs Fine Wine, £27.99, 12%. (Waitrose sells Bride Valley’s Blanc de Blancs for £38.)
A champagne price, admittedly, for this elegant Dorset fizz, but who can resist a name like this? (Or the name of the stockist for that matter)
Wild Beer Co Ninkasi
£7.50 Waitrose, 9%.
Celebratory full-size wax-sealed bottle of saison-style beer with a delicious dash of apple juice. Serve in champagne glasses.
Moonlight & Roses Côteaux d’Aix en Provence Rosé 2018
£10 Morrisons, 13%.
Another suitably romantic name and stylish-looking bottle. Classic, pale Provençal rosé.
Delicate, light, gorgeously summery. Would be lovely with a light wedding cake.
For more by Fiona Beckett, go to matchingfoodandwine.com
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