Notes from 3 Sommeliers: A Guide to Your Wedding Wine Selection

Wine selection can be challenging, especially if you’re serving a fine dining banquet. If you’re eager to serve a fine selection on your wedding, you don’t have to sample so many wines just to get the right match for your dishes. You only have to heed what sommeliers have to say to find wines that will suit the flavors of your banquet dishes.  With the experts’ notes and tricks you can have the confidence of a pro in selecting the wine for your wedding.

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Certified sommelier Rick Bakas shares the top 5 Wine trends for this year. You can search for these flavors at your local wine store or inquire from your caterer if they have any of these bottles in their selections. You might also want to try personalizing your wedding wine by choosing a flavor and modifying it to create your very own label.

1.   Chocolate Flavored Wines

Eating chocolates while drinking wine and liquor-filled chocolates are such luxurious treats. With the widely shared love for sweets comes the rising popularity of sweet-flavored wines. Bakas says that our craving for sweetness influenced how wines have been made in the past decades. This explains how chocolate flavored wines came into production. While Bakas finds that this is a gimmick to satiate our taste for sweets, chocolate flavored wines can be a decadent addition to your dessert lineup.

2.   Sparkling Lambrusco

As your guests arrive, treat them to sparkling Lambrusco. Bakas finds this light and earthy sparkling red a great way to start the evening. Don’t worry about the price: this is an affordable red wine out of Italy. It is one of the few red wines that are actually fun to drink as it has the bubbly consistency of champagne. It has the sparkle, the lightness, and a low alcohol content that makes it a perfect drink to serve to your guests as they arrive at your reception.

3.   Cooler Climate California

California is abundant in warm temperatures, thus their production of wines with higher sugar content and fewer wines with high acidity (which are normally produced in areas with cold temperatures and limestone soils). However, Californian winemakers have found cooler locations that will let them grow the acidic flavor of the old world. Wind Gap and Ryme Vermentino are some wines that are produced from vineyards that get cold arctic air at the wind gap in Carneros.

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4.   Personalized Wine

Practically anything these days can be personalized, especially when it comes to weddings where décor, favors, and food are getting more and more customized. And now even wines are customizable. At personalwine.com you can choose the wine and create your own label on the bottle for an indulgent giveaway. The site has an affordable selection of wines: pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. These wines come in their original beautiful bottles, but you can brand them with your own classy label, such as one featuring your monogram. You can also ask your caterer or inquire in a local wine store if they can offer customized wine bottles.

5.   Celebrity Branded Wines

Although Bakas is critical of celebrity endorsements when it comes to wines wherein the famous endorser have little to no say on the product, celebrity-branded wines are still a trend to watch out for this year. Some of these wines are Skinny Girl Rosé, Drew Barrymore Pinot Grigio, Martha Stewart Cabernet and Mike Dikta Merlot. Bakas says that this trend might be a case of a wine company that has an excess they need to sell out and so they get celebrities’ names attached to the wine to make them more appealing to the public.

If you come across any of these wines, you might want to try the wine yourself and get as much review as you can about the flavor and production before purchasing it for your wedding.

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If you’re working on a tight budget, take some advise from two other connoisseurs: Alan Murray and Chris Blanchard. Murray is an Australian Master Sommelier and Wine Director at San Francisco’s Masa’s Restaurant, while Blanchard is Consulting Wine Director at San Francisco’s Zaré at Fly Trap Restaurant. Murray and Blanchard reveal their tricks in finding affordable alternatives to the expensive brands. Plus! They share their inexpensive favorites that can stand in for the pricey popular wines.

1.   Forgotten Vintages

Murray suggests considering vintage wines that aren’t popular because of the climate in the year they were grown. He cites 2002 wines from Italy that are overlooked because it was a rainy season. However, Murray says that there are a number of great wines that were produced that year that are difficult to sell because most winesellers avoided stocking wines from 2002.

2.   Lesser-Known Regions

Wines from the lesser-known regions are sold at more affordable prices. Murray is impressed by the wines from Northern Spain namely Albarino and Godello. Other suggested regions to explore are Argentina, Spain, and South Italy for wines of superb flavor and excellent values.

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3.   Unfamiliar Vineyards

Similarly, try wine produce from unfamiliar vineyards. Murray and Blanchard agree that undervalued vineyards can produce great quality wines. Murray loves the wines from Mount Eden Vineyards, such as the Saratoga Curvees and Estate wines. Blanchard, meanwhile, is impressed by the produce of the vineyards in Colombia Crest in Washington. The key is to find a seller who includes wines from these unfamiliar vineyards because you can expect that they won’t mark up their prices very much.

4.   Thrifty Alternatives

If you’re serving red meats, stews in red wines, or meat grilled in charcoal, Blanchard suggests the Chappellet Mountain Napa Valley 2004 Curvee while Murray’s is the Sirita Napa Valley 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you have pork, salmon, mushroom, or pasta dishes in your menu, serve the Columbia Crest Washington 1997 Merlot as recommended by Blanchard; or you can try Murray’s Terre di Balbia Balbum Calabria, Italy 2006 Rosso.

For lighter meats such as tarts, fish, and chicken consider serving Acacia Carneros 2006 Pinot Noir as suggested by Blanchard. Murray on the other hand recommends the Mount Eden Vineyards Saratoga Pinot Noir 2006 Curvee.

For seafood entrees, such as lobster and dishes with cream sauces, complement their flavors with Louis Latour Bourgone Blanc 2007 Chardonnay as suggested by Blanchard or with Murray’s recommended Artessa Carneros 2006 Chardonnay.

Despite the bulk of wine varieties out in the market, do not be daunted by the search. List down the brands and start your search for excellent value wines to complement your wedding meal. With inexpensive quality wines there is no need to hesitate in serving them to your guests. You need not splurge. You just have to take it from the sommeliers and give some time and effort in finding that great tasting wine you can afford for your wedding.

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