Sunday, 8 March 2009

My Boy Writes: The Drink

Hop over to Elizabeth Anne Designs to read the original...

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{Image from Author’s Personal Collection}

"Choosing wine for a wedding is a tricky business, especially if you are “in the business”. I’m often called upon to help my clients get the wines just right for their big day. Like me they have pretty fixed ideas but for most people this is not the case.

Some people simplify, they pick their favourite wines and serve them. It is their wedding after all! Others are very aware of their audience and also what the wines they pick say about them. Others still have no interest in wine and serve fabulous buckets of cocktails and beer or just leave it to the caterers. Tragically, plenty of over-bearing fathers and mothers (I suspect I have the potential to be one of these) invest thought and cash into providing perfectly aged classic but interesting wines which get gulped down at an alarming rate by the guests, only to be superseded by the aforementioned capacious cocktails and beer.

The range obviously needs to be limited, ideally to one white and one red (and maybe a sweet wine). It makes a lot of sense to go for a classic and recognisable combination: Red Bordeaux and White Burgundy or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Australian Shiraz. It is also a good idea to opt for something that is easy to drink and versatile (with food and without) and in some cases low-ish alcohol is a good idea (German Rieslings fulfil this function extremely well). In an ideal world the wine will match your food and projected weather (not easy in Devon). Ultimately though, for the majority of people the wine is a conduit, a catalyst, a lubricant. It is more important to not get it wrong than it is to hit it out of the park.

For me, however, it is extremely important. It doesn’t need to be showy but it does need to be memorable. Rachel doesn’t entirely share my enthusiasm for wine but she does understand that it is very important to me and has acquired quite a taste for Riesling and anything fizzy and pink (embrace that cliché Honey!). We are also aware that the guests will be expecting something special and we are determined to live up to that. The decision was made fairly early on in the planning process that we would take full responsibility for providing alcohol, there will be no bar. Since our budget for booze is tight and a large quantity will be required, we decided to restrict the range of drinks to something fizzy to start (maybe including some homemade elderflower “champagne”), wine with the meal (and after), some beer and a barrel of cider from our friend Shaun at Piglet Cottage. So, we need unusual but widely appreciated wines with a bit of WOW! factor in large quantities on a small budget. Ah…

Clearly, we need to compromise. It would be great to have English wine, excellent fizz and flowery, summery whites and in perfect keeping with the theme for the wedding. Unfortunately English wine is expensive and good reds are few and far between. After lots of hunting and discussing we found a really delicious Riesling (German) for a good price and several bargain reds to choose from (it’s looking like something from the Languedoc currently). Fizz is always the trickiest bit and champagne prices have been bumped up significantly of late. We tried some lovely Prosecco but we find it less celebratory and have now found a cracking Cava which is in a really open, approachable style and this looks like a winner at the moment.

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{Tuscany: Image from Author’s Personal Collection}

When we first thought about booze for the wedding, we thought our ideas might be at odds with the expectations of our guests. Surely the wines should be finer than ever on this most significant day. We soon realised that in fact the spirit of our wedding called for something much more personal and involved and that making our own fizz and serving honest, real wines with a sense of place and a meaning for us, alongside local beer and cider made by new friends was just perfect.

We’ll save the Stag’s Leap for anniversaries!"

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{Image from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars}

1 comment:

Indian Summers said...

How great to have a man in the wine industry - lucky you! And I'm with you on the pink fizz, yum!