Q We’re getting married shortly and thought we’d ask our friends to give us wine as we’d like to start putting together a cellar. Do you have any ideas on the type of wines we should include and who could help us?
A It depends on several factors, most importantly the kind of wines you both like, the sort of food you enjoy and how much wine you want to keep for the longer term. As a general rule it’s good to have a minimum of one white and one red for everyday drinking, a slightly better selection of wines for entertaining family and friends and some ageworthy wines that you can bring out for special occasions.
Which wines to pick depends on your personal preferences. If you particularly enjoy fish, for example, or if one of you is a vegetarian, the balance of your wines may tip towards whites. If you regularly have a Sunday roast and also enjoy eating meat a couple of times a week you’ll probably want more reds.
Is there a particular country whose food and wine you enjoy and would like to explore further? Italian food and wine, for example? If so your list could include a few Italian cases, at least some of them mixed to enable you to experiment and try different wines. If you like spicy south-east Asian food on the other hand you might want a case or two of riesling, Gruner Veltliner (see yesterday’s article on wines for spring) or modern Australian whites.
It would also be good to have a few dessert wines and fortified wines such as sherry and port in your cellar as well as some bottles of champagne (a gift that seems particularly appropriate for a wedding) I’d also put a few interesting individual bottles of various kinds on the list for friends who are not sufficiently well off to buy a full case. A bottle of vin santo, for instance.
This is one of those occasions when it’s well worth dealing with an independent wine merchant who will take time to go through the options with you. UK merchants who offer a wedding list service include Berry Bros & Rudd , Tanners and Lay & Wheeler.
Q My son is getting married in May and has asked me to choose the wine for the
meal. The menu is melon with berries, Cumberland sausages and mash (!) and white chocolate cheesecake. I am at a bit of a loss to know what to suggest so would appreciate your advice
A Given he's chosen an unconventional main course (if you remember Kate Winslet did the same when she first got married!) I think you can afford to be a bit unconventional too and offer beer as an option with the main course. I'd suggest a robust British ale like Timothy Taylor Landlord or Young’s Special London Ale. I'd also offer a gutsy red wine - a good Cotes du Rhone Villages or Cotes du Roussillon should do the trick - or a shiraz if your son is more into new world wines.
The melon and berries are going to make most dry wines taste a bit sharp so you need something with a touch of sweetness like an off-dry riesling or a demi-sec sparkling wine if you haven't already drunk loads of fizz.
I don't know if the white chocolate cheesecake comes with accompanying fruit. If so take your cue from that. If there are berries, you could serve a sweet red or sparkling wine mixed with raspberry liqueur (raspberry and cherry beers are also delicious). There's also an attractive orangey dessert wine called Brown Bros Orange Muscat and Flora which goes well with white chocolate but it might be a bit light for the cheesecake. If you can, try and do a run through of the food and wine together before the wedding with a couple of different options.