Next to the ceremony itself, the wedding meal is possibly the most important part of the overall wedding celebration, and there is nothing worse than finding that the synergy of your best-laid plans ruined by vinegar masquerading as wine! To help you overcome potential disaster we have compiled a list of hot tips for making a successful beverage selection.
1. A selection of crowd-pleasing favourites will make for happy guests. Now is not the time for experimentation.
With a large group of people and a broad selection of tastes to satisfy, keep your selection safe and simple. Currently the most popular varieties for group occasions in Australia are sauvignon blanc in whites and shiraz in reds. Select a sauvignon blanc that is light, fresh and crisp without being acidic and a shiraz that's got a smooth unchallenging finish. New Zealand is famous for fantastic sauvignon blanc and Barossa in Australia for excellent shiraz. Bubbles of course are a 'must have' wedding option and Tasmania can often be depended on for beautiful sparkling wine. Ideally have bubbles available throughout the occasion, not just for the toast.
2 Choose a special range for the wedding table
While the rest of the wedding party will be celebrating with your beverage package, you can treat yourself and your closest loved ones with a few very special bottles selected to remember the occasion by. For example, a genuine vintage champagne is always very highly regarded, and it's hard to find a bad one. Historic and iconic bottles of are plentiful and will add to the specialness of the day - for example; Penfold's Grange 2008 or 2010, Henschke Hill of Grace 2006, or Tyrell's Vat 1 Semillon 2005. Most venues can be persuaded to allow a select few BYO bottles once you've agreed to the overall budget, even if beverages are included in the overall package agreement.
3 Don't assume the beverages suggested by the venue will be palatable.
When venues put together packages for large group occasions, they will generally choose 'economy' level wines. While there are lots of great wines available to choose from even in lower price brackets, not all venues have the expertise available to find these tasty bargains. Even wines presented as premium can still be disappointing. Request to taste the wines in advance, and if they aren't up to scratch, negotiate some better options. If you have organised to have a menu tasting, request to taste the wines alongside the food, because the wrong wine match can have a big effect on the taste of the meal also.
4 Make sure to consider other beverages outside of a wine selection.
The craft beer sector is booming worldwide at the moment and Australian breweries are producing some of the best. A couple of my personal favourites are the Pacific Ale from Stone & Wood, Byron Bay and the Duke Lager from Burleigh Brewing in Burleigh Heads.
5 Consider leaving spirits as an optional extra for guests to buy at the bar themselves.
Weddings are enormously expensive and adding spirits to your beverage package will often add a substantial hit to the budget. In general guests will find something they will enjoy drinking if you have carefully selected your wine and beers, so as long as spirits are on offer as an optional extra, there will be no complaints.
6 Finally, don't forget those who aren't drinking alcohol, i.e. drivers, pregnant guests and those taking medication - or even for those wanting to take it easy later in the night.
A nice mocktail or refreshing soft drink like a fresh lemonade, or even a spritzer or sparkling water can add a special touch that can be greatly appreciated.
If you would like to learn about food and wine pairing for yourself, and to experiment with delicious recipes, check out PAIRED: Champagne & Sparkling Wines – The food and wine matching recipe book for everyone by David Stevens-Castro and Fran Flynn. The book is available here>