Let's talk about one of the most important parts of wedding planning (IMO). That's right; we're discussing wine selection. Maybe it's not the most important part, but it's up there if you ask me.
Because, in all honesty, your wine selection can really make or break your reception (and budget). "How?" You may be thinking. Well, there are endless choices of wines and grape varieties from all around the world. The wines you select can underscore your wedding theme and take the experience to another level. And even if you don't care about fitting your wine with your theme, it's still important to find the best quality at affordable prices, so you don't break the bank when serving your guests.
So to get some expert insight on how to make the best wine selects for your big day, we spoke with Master Sommelier (only one of 269 in the world!) and SommSelect founder Ian Cauble. Read on for his tips, tricks, and favorite wines.
Choosing a wedding theme creates a unique aesthetic and contributes to the overall ambiance of your event. So why would the wine you choose be any different? Pairing wines to play up your theme will create a cohesive experience for your guests.
"Wine can make or break an event and sets the mood for the entire party," Cauble tells us. "Serving a deep, full-bodied red at your outdoor summer wedding may leave guests sluggish and ready to head to bed, while a bright and refreshing red or an un-oaked chilled white will keep guests energized and on the dance floor."
Plus, he adds that it can be enjoyable for couples to get creative and select wines from regions important to them and their love story. "You could bring in the wine you had on your first date or bottles from the country where you are going on your honeymoon," he adds.
But if you don't know where to start, don't fret. Below you'll find some of today's most popular wedding themes, as well as Cauble's input on how to select a great quality wine that seamlessly ties your wedding together.
Glamour or Vintage
If your wedding embodies classic elegance and sophistication, especially if it incorporates vintage elements and pieces, then Cauble suggests sticking to a "rich, creamy sparkling," like the Champagne Ruelle-Pertois, Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs.
"With a core led by ripe pineapple, quince, and lemon curd and aromatic notes of caramel, hazelnuts, and crushed oyster shell, this bottle will enhance your ceremony with a sense of luxury," explains Cauble.
If your wedding features homey design details that embrace natural elements like wood, foliage, and flowers, Cauble recommends the organic Domaine du Vieux Collège Bourgogne Rouge “Les Champs Foreys”. He says the notes of "bing cherry, black raspberry, wild strawberry, juicy plum, iron, crushed stone, and violets" will perfectly tie your rustic theme to your beverage selection.
If your wedding takes a unique spin on tradition, Cauble recommends a sparkling red to continue that spunky flair into your wine list. A frizzante (which means semi-sparkling, according to Cauble) like Villa di Corlo’s Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, “Rolfshark," can tickle your guests' senses with a bit of surprise factor without the sparkle being too overbearing.
"The powerful blast of dark fruit is cut by a distinct iron-like minerality and black pepper spice that promises to spark your guest’s interest," explains Cauble.
For the TikTokers and Instagrammers who can't get enough of this trend, take note. If you've opted for a cottagecore vibe, Cauble says a light fruity and floral wine will best embody the countryside picnic vibe you're aiming for. He likes the Maurice Martin Mâcon-Villages, which is "made through organic viticulture and natural techniques" to produce notes of "honeysuckle, pear, apple blossom, and dusty herb aromas floating over flavors of Meyer lemon, ripe yellow apple, fresh melon, and cream."
Pick Wines and Grapes That Appeal to Your Palette
But no matter how much you study wine or read up on your grape varieties, the best way to pick the right wine for you is to choose what you like. And what better way to find out than trying as much wine as possible.
No, really. Cauble says tasting different wines and learning what grapes they're made from and which region they come from will help you figure out your palette. For example, if you like mineral, savory, and a little salty, Cauble recommends selecting wines from Greece.
How to Pick Your Sparkling
Chances are, there will be a lot of glass clinking, toast making, and cheering at your wedding. So you'll want to ensure you have some quality bubbles that don't set you back too much (since almost everyone will most likely get a glass).
Cauble has a few favorite alternatives, which guests will never be able to differentiate from Champagne, like Terres Secrètes Crémant de Bourgogne (a pale pink wine made in the "Champagne method" with notes of "red raspberries, cherries, red currants, rose petals, warm spices, and dried orange peel") and Cerdon de Bugey (a "perfect sipping wine" that has a deep pink color and a "rich, fruity flavor").
If you are set on getting a true Champagne, Cauble says the André Clouet Grande Réserve is "one of the greatest values in wine." According to Cauble, it's made by the Clouet family, who is best known for being the official printers of the Royal Court at Versailles in the mid-18th century. With delicate bubbles and "aromas of sliced yellow apples, pineapple core, preserved lemon, freshly made brioche, and honeysuckle," the splurge will certainly be worth it.
Price Doesn't Necessarily Matter
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding wine is that a more expensive price tag means better wine. But according to Cauble, there are plenty of quality yet inexpensive wines (we're talking just $20-$30) out there if you know what to look for.
One method, in particular, can save you money when it comes to picking wine: look for "under-the-radar" regions, says Cauble. Instead of reaching for the Champagne—which must be made in the Champagne region of France—he recommends trying the Crémant, a sparkling wine made in a different region with the same method. And, it will cut costs by about half. Your guests won't know the difference, but your wallet sure will.
Another budget-friendly option that Cauble loves is a Cru Beaujolais wine made from the Gamay grape in the region of Beaujolais and the villages of Fleurie, Morgon, or Regnie. The aromatic wine, which he says smells like a bowl of fresh strawberries and cherries, retails at about $15-$30.
When it comes down to it, wine is important. But you don't need to shell out big bucks or travel the world for great wine. It's all about knowing what to look for and what you like.