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On Wine and Weddings

I get tons of questions from my friends asking me to look through caterers’ wine menus for their weddings, and the selection can be thin. If possible, try to get your venue to let you bring your own wine. Trust me: You will save a lot of money, be assured a much better selection, and get to bring your favorites in!

Lot18’s Select features half cases of some of our favorite wines for occasions just like this. These are tried-and-true selections and guaranteed crowd-pleasers.

Trevin Dalton: Brut, Extra Brut, Blanc de Blancs … so many sparklers. What is the safest or most practical bubbly for a wedding if I am only serving one? 

Most people do the Champagne toast before dinner, so I prefer something on the drier side. I’d suggest a Brut Champagne from a Champagne house that has a richer, toastier style that will stand up well on its own. If you want to be decadent, Bollinger, Gosset or Krug are great options. If you are looking for a better value for a crowd but still want a Champagne-like style, a Cava from Spain is a perfect alternative. I also enjoy Crémants from the Loire region; these sparklers are made from the Chenin Blanc grape. Baumard makes a great one.

Jeffrey Dunnigan: At my wedding, guests quickly drank all of the Chardonnay (three cases) and barely touched the Pinot Noir (three cases), even though there were menu items that went well with each. How do you find the right balance of wines for such a large event? 

This is a tough one. If the venue provides the wines, it should source enough to cover a scenario where all the guests choose white or red. If you bring the wine, first, keep it simple, with only two options; second, consider the season, your cuisine, the event and your guests. In warmer months, both at a cocktail reception or seated dinner, more people will opt for white wines. The same will be true if you’re serving lighter fish or chicken fare, and particularly if your friends and family tend to be Chardonnay lovers.

On the other hand, I would consider investing in more than needed of both red and white, so that you don’t have to worry. Remember, you can enjoy your wedding favorites as your house wine for a few months after the big event.

Karen Breller Schardine: How do you know how many bottles to have? 

Ah, a great fundamental question. The rule of thumb is one drink per alcohol-consuming person per hour. I assume six glasses per bottle. So, with 100 guests and a five-hour reception, one would need 500 drinks or about seven cases of wine (84 bottles). If other drinks will also be served, then assume that some people will opt for beer or cocktails. Know your crowd. Averages may not work if you have a particularly thirsty guest list. Once I estimate how much might be needed, knowing my friends, I usually add a few cases as a precaution.

Elizabeth O’Brien: I love Banfi Rose Regale. What other wines make good dessert pairings to match with chocolate at a reception? 

The Banfi Rosa Regale is a Brachetto, which is a sinfully delicious, slightly sweet sparkling rosé. You are right, it is great with chocolate. As a richer, more robust option ideal for winter weddings, I also enjoy serving a Late-Bottled Vintage Port; it is similar to Vintage Port, but a much better value. Another favorite of mine is a Spanish red from Bodegas Olivares called Monastrell Dulce. The Monastrell grape is called Mourvèdre in other growing regions such as the Rhône Valley, and its brings a toffee, espresso and blackberry component to a dessert course. Just thinking about it makes me crave some chocolate!

Marci Werner: Dinivino-I’m recently engaged (yay!) and planning an outdoor wedding near the Finger Lakes area. I have a couple of questions: I am contemplating a local-flavors theme and was wondering if this should be applied to the wine as well? Also, how many choices of whites/reds should be available for guests? One of each? Two? Three? 

Absolutely! Today there are so many great wines from all over the country. With winemaking technology at a high point, many of the prior inadequacies caused by the cold climate of the Finger Lakes region can now be corrected.

As I suggested above, I would stick with one white and one red to keep things simple during the dinner when people won’t want to switch between wines. However, it might be fun to do a mini tasting of three to four wines during the cocktail hour or during the rehearsal dinner.

The region is known particularly well for its Rieslings, and I enjoy ones from Lamoreaux Landing and Shaw Vineyard (the reds are great, too). Red Newt Cellars has a gorgeous restaurant with a spectacular view of Lake Seneca, so you might consider it for some pre-wedding festivities.

For more tips, don’t miss our Senior Director of Experiences’ blog post on the Finger Lakes Region. And with all the trips you will be making there – and the local wines you’ll want to taste – you might want to invest in a Wine Country Pass. It will give you insider access to seven of the best wineries in the region, as well as wineries all over the country. Congratulations!

Follow me on Twitter @dinivino

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