By The Glass
Memorable events call for good wines
AH, THE June bride, so lovely, so happy. (I was married in June.)
Weddings are such wonderful occasions, filled with joy, food and wine. So why do so many people use such mediocre to plain junk wine for toasting and celebrating such an awesome event?
I know it's a financial issue in most cases, but there are many wines that would be more appropriate than the plonk served at many a wedding. Believe me, I've been there.
The most natural wine for celebrating, of course, is champagne. There is plenty of really good champagne around -- Veuve Clicquot, Moet et Chandon, Roederer all make really fine bubbles. But if you want something "off the beaten path," to make the event even more special -- and the budget allows -- you must look for Paul Bara Brut Reserve (non-vintage, $39).
This hand-crafted, grower-produced champagne is dominated by pinot noir in the blend, from 100 percent grand cru grapes from the French village of Bouzy. It has a beautiful fruitiness, along with a scent of flowers, a cleansing dryness and a long aftertaste that leaves you wanting another glass.
Perfect for the toast, and it will make you and your guests feel like royalty as you drink and dance the party away. And you won't be sorry if you buy a few extra bottles to help you celebrate your next five anniversaries. This wine ages beautifully.
IF BUBBLES are what you want, but you need to save money for the honeymoon, have no fear, prosecco is here. That's the Italian sparkling wine made in the Veneto. Fruitier than champagne, prosecco hits a real "hot" button for people in Hawaii. The quality-for-price ratio is great! It's enlivening, bright and buoyant. That sounds like Hawaii to me.
One of my recent great finds is Bisol "Crede" Prosecco (nonvintage, $16). It has more orange blossom and fruitiness than champagne and is less racy, but no less fun. And it's perfect for a lunch or afternoon reception.
not everyone likes sparkling wine, so don't forget to pay attention to those guests, too.
Chardonnay and cabernet are still the most popular white and red wines in the United States. But picking the right wines isn't easy, there are so many.
I would pick a chardonnay at a great price that is not too heavy or alcoholic, so people don't get "tired" too fast. Try the 2004 Blackwing Chardonnay ($11) from Australia. It has a bold scent of luscious fruit and just a touch of vanilla and butterscotch to give it a very pretty complexity -- an awesome value, especially if you are entertaining a huge number of friends and relatives.
Now for the cabernet, I like it full-flavored with berries and cassis, lush and polished tannin, so it's not too heavy and not too expensive. The 2004 Marquis Philips Cabernet Sauvignon ($14) is just that. It, too, is from Australia, home to many great values like these.
You don't have to settle for mediocrity, in marriage, wedding or your wine. Take time to choose something special. There is a good find in every price range. It's something you will remember for the rest of your life -- and so will your guests.
Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier and wine educator with Southern Wine & Spirits.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org