Wine Notes – The Wine of LOVE
Along life’s journey, I’ve been many things I was proud of: a graduate, a husband, a father. But being the father of the bride, walking my little girl down the aisle, was an experience that made me beam with unequaled pride and joy.
I was excited from the beginning of the process and fully engaged in the planning. This may seem unusual because generally the advice I got from friends was to shut up and just write the check. My degree is in music, which led me to play the trumpet at wedding ceremonies. Plus, I have been involved in the planning and emceeing of many wedding receptions and other socials events. I was eager to engage in planning the party of our lives. Once we chose a venue, our focus turned to the music, the menu and, of course, the wine.
Most people wouldn’t think twice about the wine that was being served at their event, which explains why it is frequently awful. Fortunately, our venue was willing to work with us. Choosing wine for a big event isn’t the same as selecting it for a dinner party, when you can show off the best wines you can afford. The wines for a big event need to taste great and be commercially available and inexpensive. On average, a restaurant will mark up a bottle of wine by three times the cost, and they pay nearly the same as what you would pay at your favorite discount wine purveyor.
My wife and I began the process by tasting the wine normally served by the venue. The only one we liked was the Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay.
I had the opportunity to meet Randy Ullom, wine master for Kendall-Jackson this year at the New Hampshire Easterseals Winter Wine Spectacular. Kendall-Jackson is a large family-owned winery that sells more than 3 million cases each year, with the company’s Vintner’s Reserve chardonnay representing the majority of its production. For chardonnay drinkers, this is an excellent and popular choice. We needed four additional selections, so I asked about the venue’s wine supplier and was directed to the prominent distributor M.S. Walker in Norwood, Mass. My next step was to learn what other wine they had in their portfolio.
From the 778 brands listed on the M.S. Walker website, I selected one additional white wine, a couple of reds, and wine for the toast. Sauvignon blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand tends to be reasonably priced and one of my favorite choices, so I opted for the Kim Crawford, with its notes of citrus, tropical fruit and aromatic herbs. The price was reasonable, and I’d get to show off and tell everyone that Kim Crawford is a man. Having a story to tell somehow enhances everyone’s wine experience.
With so many choices available in red wines, it was easy to find a couple of reasonably priced reds that were on my go-to list. I love writing about exotic and pricey red wines, but I was on the lookout for the affordable. In that vein, I went with the Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon. This winery is located in Washington state’s Columbia Valley and sources almost half of the grapes from the renowned Horse Haven Hills AVA (American Viticultural Area). Aged for 22 months in American and French oak, this is an easy-drinking cab with soft tannins and a bit of a vanilla-oak finish. It’s not a particularly sophisticated taste, but consistently pleasing to casual wine drinkers.
While my dual French/Italian heritage sometimes leaves me conflicted, it’s clear that when it comes to value, the Italians win: Champagne simply did not fit our budget. We chose the Nino Franco Prosecco Rustico Superiore, a sparkling wine made from the glera grape. This was a fantastic upgrade from the typical American sparkling wine.
Rounding off our Italian selection was another favorite: Zaccagnini Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. Their signature bottle features vine clippings handwrapped around each bottle, making it particularly easy to find in any restaurant or liquor store. Not to be confused with Montepulciano wines from the heart of Tuscany, this wine is produced in Bolognano, Italy, from the Montepulciano grape. This bold selection pairs well with red meats and Italian tomato sauce.
Our wedding wines were a big hit, and I received many compliments from the guests. While you may not have weddings in your future, there’s no reason you can’t benefit from my efforts. If you’re looking to bring holiday cheer to a party this season, our wedding wine selections are easy to find, and each bottle will cost less than $20. Salute!