Wedding Wines

Gruet Extra Dry. | Courtesy Gruet Winery

If you have lived in Tahoe a while or visit here regularly, you probably realize there are more than four seasons. In addition to winter, spring, summer and fall, we have Ski Season, Off Season, Holiday Season, Pray for Snow Season, sister Pray for the Freaking Snow to Stop Season and every year right about now we have Wedding Season.

When the weather is reliably sunny and warms, our lovely homeland hosts thousands of nuptial celebrations. As a wine guy, it always reminds me of the opportunity to explore wedding celebration wines. With the typical size of weddings in mind, it makes sense to focus on wines that are yummy enough to add to the festivities without breaking the bank.

So, let’s get this party started with the one wine we need for sure: Sparklers. Considering the tradition of bubbles with the cake and guests who will have sparkling with everything, something off-dry is a good call. Ironically, in the world of bubblies, these will be labeled as Extra Dry. Since this will probably be your largest bottle purchase, let’s focus on the value level and maybe one level up. These are both can’t-miss options. For less than $10 a bottle, look for St. Michelle Wine Estates; for a few dollars more try Gruet, which will have your wine snob friends thinking you splurged.

New World-style Pinot Noir. | Courtesy Castle Rock Winery

For smaller gatherings, go with one white and one red; for larger weddings add a Rosé since pinks are currently wildly popular and flexible food matches. The keyword for your Rosé is dry, because even these will have enough fruit flavors and will also not clash with your food as a sweet pink might. Ask your wine purveyor because label information doesn’t help much in determining the sweetness level.

Whites and reds are best kept right down the middle so as to appeal to most guests. A chardonnay labelled as un-oaked works well; you will get crowd-pleasing Chardonnay flavors without the potentially cloying oak influences. Acacia Winery makes a nice version that can be had for a song. If you prefer Sauvignon Blanc, look for something with balance, neither super tart nor soft and sweet.

In reds it is hard to argue with a New-World-style Pinot Noir, which reliably combines flavor, balance, food-friendliness — and many are available at value price points. Castle Rock Winery makes a Willamette Valley version that typifies the style.

I have given general wine profiles, as well as some specific suggestions, but I also recommend that you ask your local purveyor for suggestions and taste them before you buy the whole lot.