Try to make things as classy as you can afford to. Several of the ‘new’ supermarkets sell fantastic value Champagne – Lidl’s at £9.95 is the best we have EVER tasted, and there’s not a mention of ‘Lidl’ on the label, so, why not push to boat out a bit, and for not much more than prosecco, really go for it (they’ll order it in for you, just find the manager and ask them). Tesco often has ‘deals’ too (esp their wine festivals with bargains galore), and their wine isn’t bad at all, although we prefer the Lidl Champagne to allothers including those three times the price.
During the drinks reception it’s a good idea to have a builders bucket full of bottled beers sitting in ice.. attach a bottle opener so folks can go DIY, and it not only looks good but the non-Champagne drinkers will love you for that!
Quantities-wise, we suggest half a bottle of fizz per person is about right not to feel too mean-spirited (there is nothing worse than running out half way through!) – and don’t forget those that don’t touch booze..a nice bottled water will usual suffice for most, maybe with the option of an Elderflower cordial for those that want to spice it up – or sparkling water with elderflower looks very much like Champagne!!
For the main meal, 1 bottle of red and another of white per table is essential, and for guidance on quantities, we find the temperature of the day/dining area makes the biggest difference – the hotter it is, the more white wine you’ll need, but again, don’t go for less than half a bottle pp – and make sure you provide water, preferably in glass bottles that can go straight to tables from your fridge.
BIG issue, and talking of fridges – – – don’t skimp on refrigeration.. warm Champagne or white wine is the most TERRIBLE – crime imaginable – – don’t risk it – hire a fridge trailer and turn the temperature control right down, then find a caterer who is as obsessive about your cold drinks being really being cold and WON’T put them out hours before you sit down to eat.
Pairing drinks (particularly wine) is all about taste and most of us naturally make good choices when pairing our foods every day… apart from those who enjoy tomato ketchup with their chocolate brownie and ice cream!?
Pairing food and drink for weddings is particularly difficult, as you have to choose drinks that will please all of your family and friends. We suggest with wine, you follow your instincts and (as with the food) – don’t try to please every last person in the room and try instead to make things reflect you – if you like a strong red wine with your chicken, that’s cool, go for it.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How powerful is the food that you are eating? Is it a ribeye steak with a rich sauce or a chicken salad with a light dressing? Wines are generally categorised as light, medium and full bodied. We would choose the full bodied wine for the steak and a light wine for the salad.
- What alcohol level is best? If your food is delicate and not particularly ‘starchy’, consider a low alcohol drink… or you’ll have lots of guests that ‘peak too soon’.
- How sweet/sour is your food? Extreme bitterness is to be avoided. If you have particularly sweet food, it can make dry drinks taste very bitter. On the other hand, if your food is slightly on the bitter side, a dry drink can exacerbate the bitterness.
- Do plenty of testing and tasting? Make the most of it!… you have to get it right after all. Some caterers will let you take your wine along to the tasting to make sure it all ‘hangs together’ – it’s a great way to get to know them too!!
Which wines complement which food groups.
Beer and spirits can be grouped in a similar way.
Footnote: = Cured Meats; = fish.
I’m sure you can guess the other ones…
Give your guests a choice
Have a bar and let your guests decide what it is they would like to drink. We’re sure they will enjoy the food just as much and will be happy that they’re able to make their own decision.
Don’t be afraid to try something different
It is traditional to drink wine with your meal, but If you don’t like it then serve something different… Just apply the same rules. A low alcohol, lightly coloured lager will compliment a chicken salad just as well as a dry white wine.
Mix things up a bit… who wants a boring wedding!?