Which Wine for a Wedding?

There’s roughly 260,000 weddings in the UK every year and so, despite how planning the perfect personalised wedding can sometimes feel unachievable, there’s a wealth of advice to help things go as smoothly as possible, whatever your requirements.

Compared to ‘focus’ items such as the venue, bridesmaid dresses or the music choices, wine can feel somewhat further down the planning scale.  It’s just Champagne for the toast and then a choice between red and white, right?

With an average of 96 guests invited to your big day, each with their own expectations, the food and drink deserves more than a passing thought.  According to research you’ll be spending roughly 20% of your budget on it, so it’s a key thing to get right.

In terms of drinks, as well as catering for those not drinking alcohol for whatever reason, a good rule of thumb per person is a welcome drink, half a bottle for the main meal, and finally something fizzy for the toast.  To ensure a happy crowd it’s probably better to over-cater than under-cater, and you can usually get a refund on any unused bottles.

Don’t feel that the toast and welcome drink needs to be budget-blowing expensive Champagne.  Cheaper doesn’t equal cheap, but if Prosecco or Cava don’t have the grandeur for your special occasion, my top tip is to go for Cremant.  Although you many not be familiar with it, it’s another French sparkling wine made in exactly the same way as Champagne, just not in the Champagne region.  You’ll save yourself a lot of money and most guests would be hard-pressed to tell the difference.

For the main course, a good rule of thumb is to plan for the white vs. red on a 40/60 split.  To ensure you please as many palates as possible keep your choices simple and classic, and check that they compliment your food choices (e.g. avoid powerful reds with lighter meats such as chicken).  It also adds a nice touch if there is a story behind the wine too, such as serving one that you both tried whilst on holiday.

As with all aspects of your preparations, mention the word ‘wedding’ and prices immediately shoot upwards.  Sourcing the wine yourself rather than going with the limited options from your venue can mean a little extra detective work but could also save you money.  Don’t forget to check whether your venue applies a corkage fee.

Another good thing to check is that the venue is providing adequate serving staff for your expected number of guests.  You want people to focus on enjoying themselves rather than wondering when the next drink will turn up!  Putting a set number of bottles on each table may seem like you’re giving people the opportunity for a free-for-all, but research shows that people actually drink slower if they can go at their own pace, rather than downing a drink each time they see the lesser-spotted server. 

Aldi (7th Panel) Wine Club Tasting #6 – Crémant du Jura Chardonnay 2013

My final review now for the Aldi Wine Club, and what better way to go out than with a bit of fizz!

When the French turn their hand to making sparkling wine outside of the delimited region of Champagne, it is known as Crémant.  Made in exactly the same way as traditional Champagne, you get all of the skill but without the baubles of prestige that drive up Champagne prices the world over.

Eight French regions produce a Crémant including Limoux, Alsace and the Loire, but today we are headed to the Jura which is located on the mid-eastern side of the country between Burgundy and Switzerland.  Although many Crémants use grape varieties not used in Champagne such Pinot Gris, Savagnin, Pinot Blanc or Riesling, today we’re trying one that is made with one of the thoroughbred Champagne varieties – Chardonnay.

Aldi Cremant

Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura Chardonnay 2013, France, 12%, £7.29

Bottled under cork and muzzle exactly like its Champagne counterparts, this bottle has a very pleasing appearance, with it’s squat bottle reminiscent to me of the uber-expensive Champagne, Krug.

Crémant is made in a lighter style than Champagne but in many other respects the look is similar, and this wine is a lovely golden yellow in colour with fabulous small bubbles trickling their way from the bottom to the top of your glass.  When some sparkling wines are falsely carbonated to give the fizz, the bubbles will be bigger (as in a can of fizzy drink) and noticeably ‘false’, so the fact that these bubbles are incredibly fine is a good marker.

On the nose I can pick up lemon citrus with a touch of lime zest as well as some honey and peach, white pepper spice and cream.

On the palate there is the citrus characters mentioned, which seem to now have more of a confectionate lemon curd quality.  There’s also the fleshy notes of green apple and, more precisely, the apple pips.  This quality hints to the fact that the fruit isn’t fully ripened, which isn’t something to worry about, but a fairly natural consequence of grapes grown in a marginal northern climate.

The wine is made in the dry Brut style which balances well with the medium acid levels.  Underpinning the fruit you have the deep rich weight and texture of butter and cream coming from the Chardonnay grape, and also a slightly discernible light grip tannin.  The weight is medium, and yet the wine is light and airy and the mousse completely quaffable prior to it dissolving in the mouth.  The length is medium and the overall sensation is clean, refreshing and moreish.

It’s very weird to be saying this, but at £7.29 this fizz represents the most expensive wine I’ve been sent as part of the Aldi wine club.  This is of course completely competitive alongside the price-point of both Prosecco and Cava, but when compared to virtually any Champagne (including those ‘on offer’), it is extremely good value.

The wine has also been especially well received with the critics and is the winner of several awards including a Bronze medal from Decanter, a Silver medal at the International Wine Challenge 2015, and a Gold medal at the IWSC (International Wines & Spirits Challenge).

As a reflection on the above bottle and indeed all of the others supplied by Aldi for this series of tastings, I can honestly say that the quality has been well above my expectations, and the prices substantially lower.  My future wine-buying routine will well and truly be changed going forward and, even though I always look for merit in any wine no matter what it is, I would be being untruthful if I said that I wouldn’t have previously been distrustful or perhaps dismissive of a wine priced up at £3.79.

My eyes have truly been opened – Cheers!

With thanks to Aldi UK for supplying the bottle used in this tasting.

Enjoyed this article?  Please take a moment to ‘Like’ and share using the buttons below. Keep looking around my site for more of the same.  Cheers!