VALUES ON THE VINE
The approaching millennium seems to be lighting a fire under otherwise contented couples and inspiring something of a wedding boomlet.
Choosing the wine for
The Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hawaii will host about 50 percent more weddings in 1999 than it did last year, according to Dianna Shitanishi, director of weddings, catering and conference services manager. And next year could be busier still.
"Some are trying to get in before the millennium and some are booking for the millennium," said Shitanishi.
For those planning to wed later this year or next, our wine panel has some suggestions, picked for their festive natures and their ability to complement a variety of foods. Even if you aren't hosting 300 guests anytime soon, you might want to give them a try.
Richard FieldOwner, R. Field Wine Co.
When asked to recommend wines for large gatherings, I keep in mind two key points. First, budget. Second, the flavor and style of the wines need to have broad appeal. I don't want to compromise quality, but deliver as much flavor as the budget allows. After all, the wine selection reflects on the host.
Billecart-Salmon Brut (Millennium label) and Brut Rosé, France ($29.99-$59.99)
A wedding without champagne?! Looking at the flavor, finesse and balance Billecart-Salmon Brut Champagne delivers and at its price, I'd be hard-pressed to recommend anything better. Also, some of their rarer bottlings are dollar for dollar as delicious or more so than the finest champagnes available. If you want to look at rosé champagne, again there is none that delivers the flavor and finesse of Billecart, and at a price nearly half that of other fine rosé champagnes.
Hawk Crest Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, California ($9.99-$10.99)
Warren Winiarski, winemaker/owner of Stag's Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley, has been one of the most influential personalities in American wine. The famous Paris Tasting in 1976 pitted California's greatest wines against the great Bordeaux and Burgundy wines in a blind tasting. Winiarski's Cabernet placed first and helped raise the image and awareness of California wines throughout the world. The results made the front page on both continents. While Stag's Leap wines are pricey, Winiarski produces delicious and affordable wines under his Hawk Crest label. You will find a level of complexity in their flavors you wouldn't expect from this price point.
Lyle FujiokaOwner, Fujioka's Wine Merchants
Zardetto Prosecco Brut Sparkling Wine, Veneto, Italy ($8.95)
Here's something that's fun and just too cool for you not to know about. Zardetto Prosecco Brut (90 percent prosecco, 10 percent pinot bianco and verdiso) is a value-priced sparkler that many of Honolulu's wine-smart have discovered for celebrations. It is crystal clear and refreshing with aromas of acacia, wild strawberries and golden apples. It's a handbasket full of summer fruit flavors; delicious, soft and smooth through the finish. The wine is bright, light and low in alcohol, perfect for hot summer days and sunsets. Besides being just plain entertaining at parties, it also has been seen performing in a more serious role, dressed up as the centerpiece at many island weddings.
Rotari Brut Sparkling Wine, Trento, Italy ($9.95)
Here's another great discovery from Italy. Rotari Brut (90 percent chardonnay, 10 percent pinot noir) is a cost-effective sparkler that's fabulous as your cocktail wine or for the ceremonial cake-cutting toast. Made "metodo classico," its traditional yeasty nose, nice mousse and fine bubbles will have you almost speaking French. On the palate, green apple and lively lemon-lime fruit flavors are bright, beautifully focused and delicious. It finishes nice and crisp with slightly tart pear and clean citrus notes. Even the yellow label is reminiscent of a very popular champagne that costs four times more.
Chuck FuruyaPresident, Fine Wine Imports and Hawaii's only master sommelier
Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve, Brut Rosé and Nicholas-Francois, France ($30-$83)
My first choice of wine for a wedding would be a champagne, and the one that immediately comes to mind is Billecart-Salmon. Never heard of it? Better yet. This is an incredibly elegant, suave, silky champagne that epitomizes finesse and sophistication. It just doesn't get better. Three Billecart-Salmon bottlings are available in Hawaii - the multivintage Brut Reserve, the fabulous "benchmark" Brut Rosé and the "tête de cuvée" Nicholas-Francois.
Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling, California ($12)
For more local-style weddings with more locally slanted foods, I would recommend Bonny Doon's Pacific Rim Riesling. This is a dry, feather-light, highly innovative white wine from California's most creative winemaker, for warm climates and Pacific Rim foods. Its very lemony edge interacts with food as a squeezed lemon would. A very different style from a big, bold, brassy Californian Chardonnay, that's for sure. But think about it. If today's foods are lighter and fresher, shouldn't our wines be lighter and fresher as well? Enjoy.
Jay KamPresident, Vintage Wine Cellar
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, Spain ($9.99)
Segura Viudas is a cava, a sparkling wine made in Spain using the traditional champagne method. This sparkler is delicate and refreshing with fresh fruit that lingers on the palate. Always known as a good value, Segura Viudas is an excellent wine to serve as a cocktail at your reception or can be used to toast the bride and groom.
1998 Banfi Brochetto D'Acqui, Piemonte, Italy ($21.99)
Centuries ago, Brochetto D'Acqui was a favorite of the royalty of Europe. After nearly disappearing, Banfi, one of Italy's great wine companies, has revived this wine. This is a fun wine: frizzante (slightly sparkling), low in alcohol (7 percent), light, fruity and slightly sweet. The fruit flavors of cherry and mountain apple will please both the experienced and the novice drinker. Served chilled, Brochetto D'Acqui matches well with chocolate cake and fresh fruits, or is pleasant by itself. Opening a bottle would be a perfect way to kick off the honeymoon or spend romantic time together.
Values on the Vine is published on the last Wednesday
of each month. To produce the wine column, the Star-Bulletin asks
each expert on its panel to recommend a pair of wines, at least one
of which must retail for about $10. Retail estimates on Chuck Furuya's
recommendations are provided by Richard Field as Furuya's
company does not set retail prices.
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