Which wedding wine matches my meal? Serving seasonal wine to perfectly complement your meal and theme couldn’t be easier with this top guide…
If you’re anything like us, you’ll happily drink whatever is put in front of you with a big, grateful smile on your face. But for all those wine connoisseurs and aficionados attending your wedding, serve like a pro and do your wedding wine homework beforehand (there’s an excellent excuse to have lots of wine tastings here too!). Whatever the season, we team up with Lydia Harrison of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust for her excellent top tips. Are you paying attention? This is an education we believe in…
If Spring has sprung…
For a white wine that’s light but packed with flavour, try the Muscat grape. It produces aromatic wines that smell of flowers, fleshy green grapes and peaches, perfect for Spring. Traditionally produced in Alsace, France, you can also find it under the name Moscatel in Spain or from as far as Chile, all with the same distinct floral character. As this white packs a punch it works beautifully with a vibrant Spring salad full of flavours such as rocket, squash, pomegranate and goats’ cheese.
Pinot Noir is perfect for Spring, with refreshing high acidity and lots of cherry and plum red fruit flavours. Tannins are also on the lower side so it is easy drinking, even in an early season heat wave. For lighter styles go for wines from cooler locations such as Bourgogne (Burgundy) in France, or if you like slightly riper fruit and a bit more alcohol then try countries like Chile or South Africa. The fresh acid will cut through fatty dishes and works well with charcuterie or game such as duck.
If Summer is finally here…
Crisp chilled whites are a summer essential with citrus and green fruit flavours to refresh the palate on those hot and hopefully sunny days. Pinot Grigio lovers should try Picpoul de Pinet, a region in Southern France that makes deliciously light, citrus-filled wines that are effortlessly enjoyable. These clean whites are great as an aperitif or to accompany simple fish dishes. Delicate flavours such as prawns or cod fillet with a lemon dressing will complement the zesty acidity of the Picpoul.
Pink wine with its flavours of summer berries has always been a seasonal favourite and there are a multitude of styles available. The Southern Rhone in France produces some brilliant rosés – dry in style with more flavour than other areas. Full flavoured rosés are extremely versatile. Rich strawberry and red cherry fruits with a bit more body can be enjoyed by themselves or with barbecues and salads. Look out for the regions of Tavel and Lirac on the label.
Lighter red wines are best for summer, with softer tannins and refreshing acidity. Well-known examples are Beaujolais or Valpolicella; serve them slightly chilled to accentuate their fruitiness. For something similar but less well known, seek out a Bierzo. This region in North West Spain produces red wines that have lively acidity, red plum and herbal notes with softer tannins and alcohols than hotter regions and sometimes a touch of oak spice; the perfect match for barbecue meats.
If there’s an Autumnal glow outside…
In cooler weather it’s good to have a white wine with a bit more ‘oomph’. Viognier is an aromatic grape that gives lovely stone fruit notes of peach and apricot and often has a slightly oily, smooth mouthfeel. Found traditionally in the Rhone in Southern France where it may be blended with other varietals, you can also find examples from the Pays d’Oc region of Southern France, South Australia or California. Its flavour intensity will stand up to stronger Autumnal dishes such as poultry or pork.
Bordeaux is France’s largest wine appellation and makes an array of red wines using popular grape varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Depending on your budget, go for regionally named wines of Bordeaux, or splash out with a Medoc or Saint Emilion for a more concentrated version. These wines are usually medium bodied with some clove and spice from oak maturation. Their structured acid and tannins work well with richer savoury foods such as lamb or beef wellington.
If you’re headed for a Winter Wonderland…
White wines aged in oak barrels develop flavours of vanilla and toast. These creamier whites with more body are comforting in chillier temperatures while complementing richer winter cuisine such as roast chicken, creamy soups or risottos. Chardonnay is a variety that often comes in this style and can be found all over the world, particularly good value from Australia or Chile. For something different, spicy and complex, try a white from Rioja in Spain that has also matured in the barrel.
For the colder winter months a full-bodied red is just the ticket. Malbec from Argentina has ripe plum aromas, textured tannins and usually some sweet spice from oak ageing, all perfectly matching the season. The richer flavour intensity will make a great pairing with red meat dishes such as roast beef, while the salt in the food will help make the wine seem more smooth and fruity. Ideal for sipping by a fireplace and keeping those winter chills at bay.
Our thanks to Lydia and the team at Wine & Spirit Education Trust for these excellent insights. For more details about WSET, its qualifications and where to study, visit WSETglobal.com