Spring is a popular time for weddings. There is something magical about this time of year as new life emerges following the barren winter, a feeling which encourages many couples to choose spring as the time to embark on their own new life.
Amidst the fresh and youthful atmosphere of a spring wedding some consideration needs to be given to the wine. What style of wine should you serve to guests on their arrival, during the meal and for the toasts? It needs to be something which will please everyone, will complement the food, will not give guests a headache from over indulgence and will be in harmony with the feeling of spring in the air.
If you are serving an appropriate main course such as chicken, fish or pork then white wine would seem to fit the bill. Most people are happy to quaff a glass or two of white wine and, apart from big New World Chardonnays, most white wines tend to be lower in alcohol than reds. White wine tends to have a fresher taste and is often drunk younger than red wine, characteristics which will enhance the spring-like atmosphere.
The perfect spring wines for a wedding are light, dry white wines. Whites such as Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are light, fresh and zesty as well as being food friendly and relatively lower in alcohol. There are also a host of light Italian white wines which are easy on the palate and on the hangover.
Traditionally, Champagne is served to guests as they arrive at the reception venue following the marriage service. Whilst serving a celebratory sparkling white wine is appropriate you could consider an alternative to Champagne as long as it is dry. One option is to go for a sparkling white wine from another part of France. Look out for the term “Cremant” on the label which means that it is a sparkling white wine made in the “method traditionnelle” but from another area of France rather than the Champagne region. The fizz may be made from the same or from different white wine grapes as Champagne, depending on the local regulations. Cremant from different regions will have different characteristics e.g. Cremant de Loire tends to be lemony with lots of zing and a crisp mousse whilst Cremant d’Alsace is clean, fresh and tangy. A light and fresh Cremant would set the scene appropriately for a spring wedding with the added bonus that it is cheaper to buy than Champagne. Alternatively, you could try an Italian Prosecco. This crisp and fresh bubbly is a much loved aperitif in Italy and is becoming increasingly fashionable in the UK. Once again, it is much cheaper than Champagne.
You could continue the Italian theme through to the main course white wine. The best Italian white wines are renowned for being fresh and crisp, perfect for perking up your guests and keeping the spring atmosphere alive. Pinot Grigio is a safe bet with its spritzy, lemony characteristics but make sure you buy youthful bottles as, like many Italian whites, Pinot Grigio is best drunk as young as possible to retain its freshness. Other Italian whites worth exploring are Soave and Verdicchio. At its best, Soave can be creamy with hints of almond whilst Verdicchio has lovely lime characteristics. However, avoid buying budget bottles of these whites as too many bland, dull and cheap Italian whites find their way to our supermarket shelves. If you are prepared to go to specialist wine merchants or websites and to pay a little bit more you can find some wonderful Italian white wines.
French Sauvignon Blanc, especially from the Loire Valley where appellations such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume are famous, can be light, lean and refreshing. If your budget doesn’t stretch to Sancerre try Sauvignon Blanc from some other Loire appellations such as Reuilly, Quincy and Menetou-Salon.
Many people still undervalue Riesling as a light, elegant and racy white wine. Full of citrus flavours it seems to epitomise the freshness of spring. Germany is the home of Riesling and produces the most delicious and subtle white wines, despite being desperately unfashionable. Pretend you’re being retro and put a couple of bottles of dry (or “trocken”) German Riesling on each table and watch your guests’ pleasurably surprised reaction when they take a sip. If you want to play safe choose Australian Riesling from the Clare or Eden Valleys – less subtle but still delicious.
Finally, it’s probably the time to be traditional when it comes to the toast. Hopefully, by now your guests will be feeling suitably refreshed rather than heavy headed by all the wonderful light white wine they have been served and will be ready to celebrate your spring wedding with a glass of chilled Champagne.
Image by Moyan_Brenn.