This time of year signifies a very important time for many Seattleites: Wedding season, Domestic Partnership season, Civil Union season, whatever words you’d like to use to define your relationship season.
Being the semi-pretentious wine enthusiast in my social group, I often find myself responding to a question along the lines of, “What wine should I serve at my wedding?” In fact, recently my friend Ryan asked me that very question, at least that was my interpretation of his grumbling about how high the corkage fees were at his venue and the per-bottle cost through the caterer.
As I reflected on his question, I realized just how important and complicated a decision wine selection can be for a wedding. You’re dealing with a tough crowd. Aunt Suzie drinks the boxed stuff, Uncle Jim likes only the finest French selections and your father-in-law never met a bottle he didn’t like…as long as it’s from Washington. How can you meet everybody’s needs? Then, there’s the financial impact. Most wines purchased by the bottle from a caterer are north of $30.00 per bottle for the most entry-level wine, the stuff you can find for $6.99 at the store. If you provide your own, a $10.00 per bottle corkage fee is standard. How can you get the best value on an already expensive day? Finally, the always elusive question of how much wine to buy. But don’t get overwhelmed; keep reading and I’ll take the guesswork out of outfitting the special day with Northwest bounty.
The easy decision would be to put your wine selection entirely in the hands of a caterer. There are many caterers that do a fine job; however, with a little time and attention you can often save money and better reflect the Pacific Northwest wine scene at your celebration.
- Keep it simple. One red, one white. That’s it. People are there to celebrate the union of two people, not taste through a flight of fifty wines. By selecting wines with broad appeal, you’ll satisfy most palates with just two offerings.
- How much? Common consensus is that half a bottle for each adult guest is a good start. If your friends imbibe more than the average bear or you plan on serving wine before and during the ceremony, adjust accordingly.
- Keep it local. Washington and Oregon are world-class wine regions.
With those principles in mind, here are three different wine packages to consider when planning a wedding.
The Budget Menu: Broad Appeal at a Reasonable Cost
- 2008 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon. This red wine from Paterson, WA is medium-bodied and has broad appeal. While it retails at $13.00, it’s always on sale at my local grocery store for around $9.00.
- 2009 Barnard Griffin Fume Blanc. A textbook Sauvignon Blanc from the Columbia Valley, perfect for a warm summer day. Retailing at $9.00, it’s often available in the $7.00 range on sale.
The Wine Aficionado Menu: Cost Balanced With Quality
- 2008 Desert Wind Ruah. From the Wahluke Slope, this merlot-based blend is very approachable and works with food or by itself. Retailing at $20.00, I found it last week for $15.00 per bottle.
- 2009 Tamarack Cellars Chardonnay. With nice notes of fruit, this Columbia Valley white is nice and crisp. At $15.00 per bottle, it’s a great value.
The Portlandia Menu: Add a Little Oregon Quirk and Whimsy
- Sokol Blosser Meditrina. A red pinot noir-based blend with syrah and zinfandel, this Oregon wine pairs with anything. Retail is $15.00.
- Sokol Blosser Evolution. A white blend of 9 different varietals, this also pairs with anything. Retail is $15.00.
Keep your eyes open for sales and if you buy by the case you’ll often receive an additional 10% discount. Hopefully these suggestions get you going in the right direction and will help your new partnership start off on the right foot.
And if not, at least you drank some good wine.