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Red Wine for a Summer Wedding

After coming to grips with our catering company charging near $50 a bottle for anything resembling decent wine, my fiancee' and I decided it would be more cost effective and a lot more fun to provide the wine to our wedding ourselves.

We've settled into a white that we've always enjoyed -- Rais Baixas Burgans Albarino 2005.

We're still searching for the right red wine to pair with it though. I'll give a rundown of the dinner menu to see if that helps spark any ideas:

1st: Roasted red and golden beets with watercress, humboldt fog cheese and toasted hazelnuts.

2nd: Agnolotti (basically, fat ravioli) filled with buffala ricotta and fine herbs, tomato confit petals and chive essence

3rd: Wild striped bass with tangerines and pea tendrils

It should be noted that these wines will be served during the whole affair, so while menu pairing is a good idea it is not a deal breaker. The corkage is pretty hefty so we are capping our budget at $15 a bottle. Right now our top choice is the Lindemans 2000 Pyrus. It's a pretty heavy wine for the menu and it's got quite a bit of sediment but we like the taste and the price is right. We're also very fond of Spanish reds.

Thanks for any advice. I'm sure we'll have a good time sampling all of your suggestions.

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  1. I would suggest a nice affordable French red such as a Cotes du Rhone. They come in at around $10 to $12.

    I also had a French red at my wedding last year that was a sort of Vin de Pays that was around $13 a bottle. Love it.

    Explore French reds at your local wine store. What's near you? ie what area are you in?

    1. By the way, the French reds I'm suggesting will be lighter in body while very flavorful, so this might work well with your menu and general sipping.

      6 Replies
      1. re: littlefrenchgirl

        I'm in the west side of Los Angeles very close the the Wine House if that's familiar.

        French wines are very intimidating since I haven't had too much experience with them but I feel confident that we have a nice selection in the city. Are there any specific bottles I should start with?

        1. re: Frommtron

          If you go to The Wine House, they will assist you. There is nothing intimidating about French wines . . . any more than there is about American wines. (You still, at some point, had to learn that "Zinfandel" was a grape and "Napa" was a place; French wines are no different.)

          I served a Côtes-du-Rhône for the red at our wedding, and an Alsatian Pinot Blanc for the white -- from Domaine Grand Veneur and Keuntz-Bas, respectively (FWIW). Another great choice for a red would be a Beaujolais-Villages. If you go to a big producer (think Robert Mondavi versus Spelletich), skip the pretty labels of Duboeuf and go for Louis Jadot -- MUCH better wine. That said, there are also lots of small producers that are easy to fine and affordable. Again, ask for assistance from a top merchant like The Wine House.

          If you do go with rosé, think of a Côtes-du-Rhône rosé from a producer like Domaine de la Mordorée or a producer from Corbières like Domaine de Fontsainte.

          Can't miss!

          1. re: zin1953

            I'm in agreement with these comments - although like you, I think the guests would probably prefer having a red option. Definitely Jadot over any Duboef. While tasting at the shop see if they have a reasonable Brouilly (morgon perhaps). I think you will really like the beaujolais-villages too.

          2. re: Frommtron

            The E. Guigal Cotes de Rhone (rouge) is only about $12 a bottle and really a great buy.

            I am not a huge Beaujolais fan, but that could be a nice match with your lighter menu.

            1. re: Megiac

              FWIW, there are good Beaujolais and bad Beaujolais, just as with all wines . . .

              The biggest problem with Beaujolais is that the very key to its popularity -- in the 1980s, an average-sized retail store could easily sell 100+ cases of Beaujolais Nouveau -- is the region's worst wine. "Real" Beaujolais is such a radically different wine. Thus, the image much of the population has about Beaujolais is as wrong as thinking that all Zinfandel is white . . .

            2. re: Frommtron

              HI - sorry for the late reply:

              http://www.thewinecountry.com/mm5/mer...

              http://www.thewinecountry.com/mm5/mer...

              These are two awesome Cotes du Rhone that I would recommend for a large party - these are delicious wines and you can find them at this site and they are located down in the Long Beach area which is not far if you are in the LA area.

              Good luck!

          3. wow - your menu sounds amazing - may i suggest a rose - i think red in general and especially at a summer wedding is just to warm - but if you must a chilled pinot noir. and lots of prosecco!

            9 Replies
            1. re: howchow

              Thanks! We're definitely excited about it.

              I like rose but I thin a lot of people are put off by it and we want people to be happy and comfortable.

              Are you partial to any proseccos?

              1. re: Frommtron

                People are only "put off" by rosé because they haven't had any -- they're thinking of sweet White Zins, not true rosés. There have been plenty of newspaper and magazine articles about rosé of late, so perhaps they may not be as put off as you may think.

                Be that as it may, you can definitely serve a Beaujolais or a Côtes-du-Rhône with a light chill on it, so . . .

                As far as Proseccos are concerned, you may want to check out Wine Expo in Santa Monica. They have some great ones. Or, look for a Crémant d'Alsace from a producer such as Lucien Albrecht or a Crémant de Bourgogne ffrom the Cave Cooperative at Viré. On the domestic side, I'd recommend Gloria Ferrer or Roederer Estate -- the former is widely available for less than the latter.

                1. re: zin1953

                  My first thought with your menu and summer was a Beaujolais or Beaujolais Village. Such nice lively wines with pretty red fruit. Also well-priced. In terms of bubbly, Gloria Ferrer makes a very nice reasonably priced rose bubbly; the Brut Roederer Estate is also a good buy, as are some of the Mumm Napa offerings. Good luck -- happy marriage!

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    The CA Mumm's Blanc de Noirs (which in no way has anything to do with the word "blanc") is a killer deal -- I've been buying them by the case at Safeway for $12/bottle every other month when they've been on that sale. A high quality sparkler findable for a really good price.

                    1. re: whiner

                      Why do you think that "Blanc de Noirs" has nothing to do with "blanc"???

                      1. re: zin1953

                        That particular wine is a rose. Obviously a Blanc de Noirs could be a white sparkling wine. But that one isn't. It is intentionally mislabeled and I have no idea why.

                        1. re: whiner

                          Legally, you are incorrect, although it's easy to make that assumption . . .

                          First, you have to look at Champagne, rather than Calfiornia -- I'll get there in a moment. There are, for the most part, only three grapes permitted in making Champagne, two reds and a white: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. On Champagne labels, "Blanc de Blancs" (BdB) merely means that only white wine grapes (i.e.: Chardonnay) were used in making the wine; "Blanc de Noirs" (BdN) means that only red grapes were used. It has nothing to do with color, and quite often you'll have a bit of color in a BdN. Can't help it -- all the pigment is in the skins, so as the grape is pressed, the juice will pick up some color.

                          But in the U.S., believe it or not, there is no legal definition for BdB or BdN -- not int he French sense. Mumm Napa's BdN, for example, has some Chardonnay in it. But Mumm Napa DOES make a Rosé, and they produce a full-blown red sparkler from Pinot Noir. The term BdN means the must hasn't spent time on the skins -- otherwise, it would legally be a rosé, or a red.

                          I certainly grant you that Mumm Napa has much more color to it thandoes, for example, Chandon or Shramsberg -- but it's not fermented on the skins, and thus, not legally a rosé.

                          1. re: zin1953

                            zin,

                            The wine doesn't just have a pink hue. It is deeper pink than many true roses. And it has fruit flavors that I only associate with roses. I don't know exactly how they make it, but if there were no contact with the skin, like with Schramsberg (or, for the French example, Bollinger VV) the wine would not be so deep pink. Whatever they are doing differently... they are doing something differently. And whatever that thing is, produces a wine that is neither white in color nor flavor.

                            I do, however, understand that so many of these terms are defined by the laws, and I was unaware of the standing in CA. Also interesting that they blend in some Chardonnay. I guess by CA standards they could blend in up to 25% and still call it a BdN?

                            1. re: whiner

                              Yes, I know the Mumm manages to get more color in the BdN than anyone else -- certainly than anyone else I know! Theoretically, the wine can have no skin contact. Does it have some? In reality? I dunno -- maybe it's like Jesus Units!

                              OTOH, it drives me CRAZY that BdB's can have red grapes in them, and BdN's can have white . . . (the US Govt at work!)

            2. Albariño is a nice choice!

              I'm not familiar with the Pyrus but I'd stay away from a big red with that menu. With your menu, I'd do something light-bodied like a Beaujolais Cru (2005 is a *great* year). If you prefer Italian wines, a Dolcetto D'Alba or a Barbera D'Alba might be a good match.

              1 Reply
              1. re: oolah

                Hi, must concur with howchow. A lot of wineries have some fantastic roses right now. In fact, I just got back from the Paso Robles Wine Festival last weekend, & despite vowing not to buy any more wine, couldn't resist buying a ton of roses for the summer.

              2. Depending upon how many people are coming to your wedding, you may be able to get a good deal (like if you are buying 10 cases+). I might see if somone will sell you La Crema Sonoma Coast or Saintsbury Garnet Pinot Noir. Both are nice medium-bodied Pinots that basically run in the upper teens.

                Another good option would be Borsao Tres Picos. Easily under $15 and a phenominal value. It might overpower the bass, but it is not as heavy as I'm sure the Lindeman's is.

                You could also consider a Barbera. The basic Icardi is wonderful and usually findable for $12. The barrique-aged Barberas are a bit more complex nd richer -- also more expensive, buit they can be seriously great wines. The basic La Spinetta, at $22, is one of the best values in red wine I know of. You may be able to get it for $15 if you order a ton. Also, Woodland Hills has 2003 San Giusto a Rentenanno Chianti Classico for $15. Incredible value and would pair well. I can't imagine they have enough of it, but it looks like they have over a case. Seriously, rediculous value -- and it would pair reasonably well. The 2004 Firriato Chiaramonte Nero d'Avola for $13 at Wine House would pair very well. It has the spice of Nero d'Avola but it isn't as big as the more expensive ones can be. Actually, I think that might be a very good choice. Again, Firriato is a small producer, so I don't know if they will have enough.

                1 Reply
                1. re: whiner

                  the Tres Picos is a very good call and heck, chill a few bottles to sere in lieu of roses...although I heartily endorse the rose suggestions. the st. cosme mentioned below is a good suggestion as well although a bigger or heavier wine than the tres picos