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10 Tips for Selecting Wines for a Wedding


Keep things in perspective.
The wines served will be well down on the list of important wedding memories, even for hardcore wine enthusiasts. Don’t try to elevate the wine above its place by selecting something with a big personality or “fascinating” characteristics that typical consumers might not enjoy.


The wine should be approachable and sensual.
Wedding attendees are caught up in the moment. They are enjoying friends and family, taking pictures, chatting and dancing. This is not the environment for subtle, let alone austere, wines that require some degree of concentration to be enjoyed.

The wine will indeed be memorable if it is truly bad.
Don’t assume people won’t notice the wine at all and you can get away with pouring cheap plonk that tastes like canned fruit punch.

For the majority of weddings, careful pairing of wine and food is pointless.
As mentioned above, most people won’t notice. Beyond that, since the food is catered and often served buffet style, you don’t have any control over which wine will be tasted with food. On the other hand , if the meal is served in courses by waiters and the caterer is good, you can definitely employ your pairing chops. Just don’t try to be too sophisticated.

Select wines that are moderate in alcohol.
People are not going to be monitoring their intake carefully. And they may be drinking cocktails as well. Alcohol can be a welcome social lubricant but you don’t want Uncle Henry doing a face plant in the wedding cake. Also remember that hot weather increases the impact alcohol has on a person. So, if you’re expecting high temperatures, and those ballrooms always seem too warm, try even harder to keep the alcohol low.

Seriously consider choosing wines with screwtops.
There are two reasons for this. First, it will allow the bartenders to open bottles more quickly. That means the lines will move faster and the guests will be happier. Second, unless the servers are exceptional, they will not be tasting each bottle they open. That means that the odds of corked bottles getting poured is very high. Why not eliminate that risk if you can?

Choose red wines that are unlikely to have heavy sediment.
Again, most servers will not have the time, inclination, equipment or experience to properly decant the wines. And they almost always pour the wine aggressively because they are in a hurry. If there is sediment in the bottles, there will be sediment in the glasses. Go for red wines that are on the young side and not too heavily extracted.

Select wines that can be enjoyed at a fairly wide range of serving temperatures.
The white wine will either be coming out of a big ice bin and be super cold or sitting on the table at 75 degrees. The red wine will certainly be sitting out as well. Plan for high temperatures and consider wines with high acidity and low alcohol. Warm serving temperatures de-emphasizes acidity while highlighting fruit and alcohol. If the wine doesn’t have enough acidity, it will taste flabby. Moderately high alcohol wines will become unpleasantly “hot.” If the white wine is served too cold, people can warm the glass in their hands.

Spend up on the bubbly.
Champagne is the most noticed wine at weddings because it’s used for the toasts. People watch it being poured, hold it high during toasts and have warm thoughts in mind when they drink it. You don’t want to suggest that the toasts are not important by making people celebrate them with a $5 bottle. Nor do you want people’s thoughts about the happy couple to be interrupted by sparkling wine that’s either too sweet or too bitter. Choose nice looking bottles that feature middle of the road flavor profiles and lots of tiny, festive bubbles.

Consider a large format bottle for the head table. Magnums and larger bottles are generally too unwieldy for servers to handle well at banquets. However, one big bottle that’s used to pour the sparkling wine for the bride and groom is an excellent idea. It adds to the sense of celebration, emphasizes the specialness of the couple and is easy for attendees to see from all corners of the room.


I recently helped some friends select their wedding wines. Here is what we chose:
Clif Family The Climber 2007 White Wine, $12. A lovely blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Muscat from select North Coast vineyards made by winemaker Sarah Gott. It has a lot of tropical fruit flavors and the Muscat gives it a hint of romantic sweetness. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and undergoes no malolactic fermentation so the flavors are clean and acidity very good. It was perfect for an outdoor summer wedding. Bottled in screwtop.

Torbreck 2007 Cuvee Juveniles, $25. A deliciously fruit-forward yet lean blend of old-vine Grenache, Mourvedre and Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in Australia. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and sees no time in oak at all. This gives it a fresh, light and approachable flavor and allows the complexity of the fruit to shine. Bottled in screwtop.

Nicolas Feuillatte NV Brut Reserve Particuliére Champagne, $35. A brightly colored, festive bottle holds very fresh and balanced sparkling wine. The flavors and aromas are primarily of apple, pear and white flowers with just a hint of nut. The blend includes 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay. This gives it the presence to be able to be consumed throughout a meal while still being light enough to be very tasting on its own for the toasts.

This article is original to Copyright 2009 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved