Wedding Wine Guide Q&A with Sarah Knowles part two!

bride and groom just wedding and having a drink with guests Sarah Knowles MW joined The Wine Society in March 2014 and passed her Masters of Wine qualification in 2015. She is responsible for Champagne, North America and Italy, as well as overseeing the portfolio of sparkling wines and spirits; so, there really is no better person to be advising you and answering all of your wedding questions? Red or white for a meat course? Wine or Champagne for your wedding toast? Here's part two, of the three-part guide...

wedding table set up with wine glasses on Which styles of wine would you recommend pairing with each part of the day?
To start with there is no right and wrong as to what to drink when, and with what at your own wedding. If you love red wine with fish, then do it, its your day.
However here are a few tips that helped me at my wedding:

  • Don't forget a few bottles of good Champagne to sip on the morning of the big day and of course for any photos!
  • We then had Champagne (and cups of tea) served immediately after the vows which really set the pace for the afternoon.
  • As we had the photos, and guests waited for the wedding breakfast, we had Champagne, white wine and G+Ts available, along with plenty of chilled water and flavours of San Pellegrino available for those not drinking. We also made our speeches and had the various toasts before the food – and while most guests still had their flutes in hand.
  • At the 'breakfast' we had two whites - a super fresh Loire Sauvignon and a richer Kiwi Chardonnay - along with two reds - a juicy Southern Rhône option and a more structured Rioja Reserva - open on the tables with a little tasting menu that I printed so that guests could help themselves to the one they fancied or to all four over the course of the meal.
  • After the meal, we had a fuller Argentinian red and a crisp Italian white at the bar along with any leftover fizz from earlier and a keg of local golden ale, which all went well with the evening bacon baps!
  • We also had two areas set out with our favourite food and wine pairings – an Old Fashioned with jam doughnuts, and Port and cheese.
  • Throughout the day we had tea and coffee also available, as many of my family would really rather a cuppa than most other options(!), but I also tucked away a particularly special whisky for my husband and his friends as a surprise at the end of the night.
Really, my best advice would be to think of the various sections of your wedding, and not be scared to change the drinks as you go, to create different moods for your guests. You are in charge of the day, and generally your friends and family want to get involved in the whole day and if wines and drinks are as important to you, as they are to me, you can entertain your guests using them throughout the day.

drinks station at a wedding Also don't feel the pressure to offer a full bar if you are unable to use the venue's own. Limiting the choices to those that you like, so long as there is a good range of soft options, is fine for your big day.

Would you recommend serving Champagne or sparkling?
I would definitely advise including a fizz on your big day as nothing says celebration quite so much as sparkling wine. If your budget allows, there is no getting away from it, Champagne is delicious. However, it's not the be all and end all, if you have a large guest list or are working to a tighter budget there are some fantastic sparkling wines available.

Prosecco has just had a brilliant vintage and the wines are singing. French Crémant can offer a Champagne-like sophisticated style, and Cava shouldn't be forgotten as an example like The Society's Cava arguably offers the best value of any fizz.What ever you chose to serve, try to make sure the venue really chills it down before serving as so often this is really the difference between weddings where a warm toast – however good the wine – can be a little disappointing...

How do you decide what matches well with the food you're serving?
There are lots of theories when matching wine with food and some great advice online including our own site. However, if you have some personal favourites, go with that, its your day. If not, though, when tasting your wine options at home, perhaps think of cooking the main ingredient from your menu to pair alongside – see what you think works best. If looking for bespoke professional advice, our showroom team will also have great recommendations if you share your menu with them ahead of the tasting.

The other simple advice is often to pair food with wines from the same region so if you're having duck, think south west France for example.

Check out the County Wedding Magazine news headlines from Friday the 5th and Friday 20th May to read parts one and three. 

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