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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:



              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


                            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

                2. Your Lindemans, while tasty, is not going to do anything for the striped bass, and even less for the Agnolotti. I would go with a Bourgogne Rouge. That's a light regional Pinot Noir from France, obviously. I find it's just about the best red wine for fish in your price range. There should be several available from reliable maisons like Faiveley, Jadot, Drouhin, Rodet. Not sure what's available in LA. Barbera from the Piedmont region of Italy is also a fish-friendly red wine.

                  Rose would also be a tasty alternative to red in the summer sun!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Thanks ChefJune

                    The bourgogne sounds delicious and I look forward to my first bottle.

                    I recently had a Pinot Meunier at AOC and loved it. Any recommendations for something like that?

                  2. So far it sounds like you are going to have a great wedding. The menu and your white choice look great. I would stay away from that big heavy red in the summer heat. The suggestion of a Rose is great. A great value from the Languedoc region of southern France is Domaine de l' Hortus Rose, $10.99 at Wine House.

                    Other great values from the south of France are Cht. Valcomb, $8.99, from Costieres de Nimes and Cht de St. Cosme, St. James Basket Press, $10.99 from the Southern Rhone. The St. Cosme is a great little wine for the $$.

                    Two great options at Wine House from Italy are Cusomano Nero d' Avola, $10.99, from Sicily and Allergrini Valpolicella Classico, $11.99, from Veneto.

                    Don't be intimidated by what you don't know, ask for help, taste the wines and pick what you like. Good luck with your choice and your wedding

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Frommtron

                      I just tried 2 different proseccos this weekend both from the wine expo on santa monica blvd - both were 14.99 and both very good. They also have an extensive selection of champagne.

                      1. re: Frommtron

                        I love Prosecco.

                        My Favorites are Nino Franco 'Rustico' and Adami.

                        For the price and availablity, Zardetto makes a nice one as well.

                        1. re: whiner

                          Prosecco is great for a wedding. I recently had the Col Vetoraz Prosecco after seeing it on the House andGarden website. The Raventos Cava is also pretty tasty.

                      2. Frommtron: Following this thread with great interest. Here's what I'd do for the sparkler:

                        Go to Trader Joe's. Buy several cases of the Cremant de Bourgogne in the yellow label. This is $8.99 a bottle, and a Veuve Cliquot wannabe. The rose is not as good but I guarantee your guests will like it. Try a bottle first and see if it's in your style. My tasting notes are here: http://tinyurl.com/28nofq

                        If you want a sweet sparkler to go with the cake, Bonny Doon's Il Circo Moscato d'Asti is on sale at TJ's for $6.99 a bottle. My review of last year's is here: http://tinyurl.com/22w2p3.

                        It sounds like you like robust reds, but they will not go well with the food and may not be great in heat or once the wines have warmed up a bit. The James Basket press suggested above (http://tinyurl.com/25o8p2, for my tasting notes) would be a good compromise because it is ok slightly chilled. Otherwise, just go to the Wine House and tell them you want a Cru Beaujolais for under $15 and they will suggest some for you. They are very good in this respect.

                        If none of these sound right to you, have a surf on over to my blog. I shop where you shop, and have lots of wine reviews under $20 (http://goodwineunder20.blogspot.com


                        Have a great wedding!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Dr. Debs

                          Hi Dr. Debs. Thanks for the post and thanks for the link to your blog. I'm sure to be a regular visitor.

                          I'm excited to try the Cremant. A Veuve Cliquot wannabe sounds great to me.

                          While I definitely like a robust red, I love the lighter stuff too. We just got stuck with several cases of the Lindemans so that's our starting point. Talk about robust! I honestly can't imagine a dish that would hold up against it. At any rate, it looks like I've got several suggestions for a beaugolais so I'll have to give a few of those serious consideration along with some Côtes-du-Rhône and a Bourgogne Rouge to round out my leap into French wines.

                          I'll try as many of the other suggestions as I can in the next couple of weeks too.

                          1. re: Frommtron

                            Also, if you serve Pinot Noir, people will be super happy - people love the Pinot.


                        2. Agree with those who are suggesting light, fruity and slightly chilled.

                          While it's probably a little more than you're willing to pay, in your shoes I'd probably bust the budget just for the propitious name (not to mention that it's an amazing Pinot Noir for the price): de Villaine's 2005 Bourgogne "La Fortune". The 2004's mighty fine too.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: carswell

                            I'm having a summer wedding, and rather than going with one red, one white, and one sparkler, I've chosen to have an eclectic sampling of wines. A wine list, if you will.

                            So far, I have cases of Pinot Noir, Monastrell, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Syrah/Shiraz, and Zinfandel for reds.

                            For whites, I will be pouring Viognier, Gewurtztraminer, Riesling, and a Chenin Blanc.

                            I spent most of the past year-and-a-half tasting wines, deciding which around or under $20 a bottle would make the cut. It has been very fun, and extremely, perhaps foolishly, expensive. I've also developed the habit of drinking wine virtually every night in my quest to find the wine the "makes the cut." What I have learned from the experience is that there are some excellent wines under $20, wines that give much more expensive wines a run for their money (pun intended).

                            I have the following regions represented: Columbia Valley riesling, Chilean viognier (can't remember which valley, but it's the Cono Sur limited release, which is amazing for the price), Okanagan Valley Gewurztraminer (I live in BC), again, an Okanagan Chenin Blanc, an Okanagan pinot noir and cabernet franc, an Amador County organic Zinfandel, a Chilean Cab-Sauv, a Spanish Monastrell (Jumilla region), and two Australian syrahs/shirazes.

                            I didn't buy any French wine because I consistently find that the French stuff I like is on the pricey side, especially in BC, where we pay some of the highest liquor taxes in the world and imported wines are generally twice as much as what they cost in the US. French wines in particular seem to be more expensive here; when I bought 2003 Bordeaux, prices were usually double the listed price in the US (i.e. the price the Wine Spectator quoted).

                            That is an aside...the wedding will be fun. People may be forced out of their comfort zone, i.e. if the wine they know and like goes quickly, they may have to switch to something else. I imagine people with gravitate toward the big and juicy Australian shiraz, but I'll be glad to see that polished so that guests will discover something a little more unfamiliar to their palate.

                            1. re: anewton

                              That's too bad they tax French and other imported wines so much!!!

                              1. re: anewton

                                What are the best BC wines in your opinion (since you are there)?

                                1. re: littlefrenchgirl

                                  There are some great BC wines, but I doubt you can get any of them outside of BC (or outside of Canada). It is hard even for BC residents to get the best stuff.

                                  But here is a list, in no particular order, of the best BC wines (vintage not specified)

                                  Black Hills Winery--Nota Bene (red meritage)

                                  Jackson Triggs--Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, or Cab-Shiraz. Also Grand Reserve Meritage.

                                  Golden Mile Cellars--Black Arts Syrah (2005 was just released and is quite delicious); Black Arts Chardonnay

                                  Burrowing Owl--anything they make! But particularly the Syrahs and Cabernets...

                                  Fairview Cellars--Bear's Meritage (made only in good years)

                                  Quail's Gate Winery--Family Reserve Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

                                  Mission Hill--Oculus (but $60/bottle!)

                                  Cedar Creek winery--Platinum reserve Meritage, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Also Estate Select wines.

                                  Kettle Valley--most of their more expensive wines. Good Syrahs.

                                  Winchester Cellars--Sharp Creek vineyard Pinot Noir and "Marion's Bench" Meritage.

                                  These are a few of the best. There are many more. As a rule, most BC wineries have small production. Some of the wineries that make good reserve wines (i.e. Jackson Triggs) make terrible mass-produced schlock, too. The "Blue Chip" wineries are Black Hills, Burrowing Owl, and Quail's Gate, in my opinion (but Quail's Gate still makes a few schlocky wines). They probably don't export any wines, so you'd have to come here to taste them!

                            2. two other options include a gingodas from provence or a nebbiolo from peidmont.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: orchy

                                FYI, Gigondas is produced in the Rhône Valley, not Provence.

                                1. re: orchy

                                  Gigondas is delicious but I find they are usually $20 or over........ great wines though!!

                                  1. re: littlefrenchgirl

                                    Hi again everyone,

                                    Just wanted to thank you again for all of the great suggestions.

                                    First, thanks to Dr. Debs. We both like the Cremant you suggested at that price so we're we'll have sparkling wine after all.

                                    I've worked my way through several of the suggested reds and several others that were suggested by retailers. Still looking.

                                    I liked the Jadot Beaujoulais. The finacee wasn't as keen on it or any Beaujoulais.

                                    I couldn't find a red burgundy that we both liked at our price point. We found most to have a bracing minerality that we didnt' enjoy without food and often food didn't make it work for us either. Could be the price point, could have been the salesperson's lack of taste, could be ours.

                                    We really like Nero D'Avola in general but have had some bad luck with the ones we've tried lately at our price point. Great idea though. We're still looking.

                                    littlefrenchgirl. I've been away from the thread for quite some time so I didn't see your specific recommendation until now. I'm looking forward to visiting a new wine shop and trying your suggestions. Thanks for all your help. And you're right. People love the Pinot Noir. We do too but we wanted something different.

                                    Right now we have Quattro Mani Montepulciano d'Abruzzo leading the way. It's young and fermented in stainless steel so it's not nearly as big as these wines tend to get. It's actually not too big for our menu and since we need it to work as a crowd pleasing cocktail wine too it might just work. Oh yeah, it's super cheap too at $7.99 a bottle. Not perfect but could be a good compromise.

                                    I had been way in the weeds at work for a long time so I didn't have the time to try more than a half dozen suggestions. I'll have to make up some ground now. Should be lots of fun.

                                    Again, thanks and I'll let you know what we went with.

                                    1. re: Frommtron

                                      My suggestion comes a little late it is Husch Pinot Noir or Norton Malbec Reserva (The non Reserva is not bad but I'm pretty sure I purchased the Resverva for $13.99)

                                      1. re: Frommtron

                                        Hi all,

                                        I've decided to go in a different direction and could use your expertise in rounding out what I'm trying to do.

                                        Cocktail wine: Since we're having a cocktail hour outside after the ceremony it's sure to still be very hot. I've decided that nothing cools one down and says a party like Vinho Verde. It's unsophisticated, totally casual, and I think it's great fun. My new problem is: how about a red-like alternative. I think this is where a rose could come in without being obtrusive. It's also open bar at this time so I think the big red drinkers will be hitting the spirits instead anyway. So, I'm hoping to find a rose that would appeal to red wine drinkers. Any suggestions? I've got a Spanish rosado by Coto de Hayas tenuously holding the position currently.

                                        For dinner we move inside. Albarino will be the right match for the dinner. If anyone absolutely must have red wine then we plan on servng the Pyrus. We decided that it means a lot to our friend to have helped us with the wine and we have it on hand and that saves us the hassle of returning it. It's also a giant fruit bomb that will make lots of people happy.

                                        Dr. Debs' suggestion of Cremant de Bourgogne will be served by request at any time during the evening but will also be offered for the toasts.

                                        So that's the update if anyone was interested. Just need a bit of advice on a red or rose that would be cool and refreshing during the outdoor cocktail hour.

                                        Thank you very much for any time and thought on this. I value it immensely.


                                        1. re: Frommtron


                                          So glad you liked the Cremant. Pretty amazing for under $8, eh?

                                          OK, your rose. How about a rose made with cabernet grapes? The Vinum Cellars Rose It's Okay is $11 a bottle, but you can get it for under $10 and they give you a 10% discount if you order a case: http://tinyurl.com/2sol3s. Don't know why that link won't work--it's the 2006 Rose It's Okay made with 100% cabernet sauvignon, if you want to Google it.

                                          I reviewed it, and you can find it by looking here http://tinyurl.com/2uvjae, where all my rose reviews are parked. Another option is the Cortijo III Rose (I got if from BevMo for $9.99) which was pretty tannic for a rose and I thought at the time that it might appeal to red wine lovers.

                                          Good luck! It looks like it's all shaping up just beautifully, and with all the thought you're putting into it, how can you guests do anything but have a great time!