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Wine pairings help for our wedding menu

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Hi! I'm a frequent lurker but first time poster... Really need the help with this--we are trying to decide on the wines to serve at our wedding. We are thinking 2 reds and 2 whites...

Our PERSONAL wine tastes fall along these lines: favorite whites are Riesling (highly prefer the German ones) and Sauvignon Blanc (esp. the ones from New Zealand). I absolutely cannot stand Chardonnay and would rather avoid having it.

For the Reds, we prefer Cabernet Sauvignon (Chilean or Californian) or Californian Red Zinfandel and on a lighter side Pinot Noir.

However, frankly, we are pretty open to any kind of wines (maybe except for Chardonnay)--but have no clue whatsoever as to what would work with our menu (see below).

Any suggestions on type and even specific wines would be greatly appreciated!

Passed Hors D'oeuvres:
Grilled Tandoori Shrimp with Mint Yogurt Sauce
Tuna Sashimi, Edamame Puree, Black Sesame Crackers
Hickory Smoked Tofu Rice Paper Rolls (Bite Size Summer Rolls)
Scallop Dumplings with Soy Butter served on Spoons
Potato Latkes with Salmon Gravlax and Chives Cream Cheese

Cheese Table (approx 5-6 varieties of artisanal cheeses from grass fed cows at Bobolink Dairy) with Sullivan Bakery Bread

Seated Dinner:
1st course: Arugula Salad with Blood Oranges, Cabrales Cheese & Walnuts

2nd course: Wild Mushroom Risotto with Goat Cheese

Main course:
EITHER Red Snapper Roasted in Banana Leaves with Red Chile Chutney, Roasted Fennel, Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple
OR Vegetarian Option: Chickpea Indian Curry - Carrots, Cauliflower and Spinach

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  1. what kind of price points are we talking about here? Just went through this myself so I hope I can help!

    1. Considering the menu, I would recommend the whites you like- Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Personally for a red I would go with Pinot Noir. It would pair greatly with almost all the menu and it has a very accessible palate for novice wine drinkers. After that comes price consideration. A bottle of wine will yield 5 5oz. servings, which is a typical amount per glass. If you are going to be using Champagne for a toast, then the amount is approximately 3oz. per glass or about 8 glasses per bottle. Hope you have a wonderful wedding and good luck.

      1. sounds like a lovely menu!

        We have now had the opportunity to help several of our friends choose wines for their weddings in the following very fun manner:

        We recreate the menu items as best as we can. We then go to the wine store with a price point in mind (say under $20 per bottle). We buy 10 bottles of red, 10 bottles of white, or maybe throw in some sparklings. Make a little chart, open all the bottles, And start tasting wine with the food! If you are really serious, you can spit as you drink. We are not, and so we just drink! We turn it into a little special party for the bride and groom. It gives them a chance to try the food and the wine together, and sometimes you can be very surprised by what goes well together. It is also very informative to try that many bottles at once.

        Needless to say, 4 people can't usually finish 20+bottles in an evening... The rest of the unfinished wine gets stoppered up and put in the fridge or freezer, and slowly consumed over the next week (we divvy up the bottles with the other couple) or we hold a gigantic sangria party soon after!

        1. Hi Ik..

          I'll run through the dishes then summarize the common themes at bottom...

          TANDOORI SHRIMP: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Champagne all work, but when you throw in the Mint Yogurt that really tips it to Riesling, IMO, a very mint-friendly wine.

          TUNA SASHIMI: quite a few wines will fly here... riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir would be in my top 3... champagne also nice.

          TOFU ROLLS: Given the hickory smoke I'd favor Chardonnay or Champagne Blanc de Blancs here.

          SCALLP DUMPLINGS: First choices would be chardonnay or blanc de blancs

          SALMON GRAVLAX: w/ Chive Cream cheese... ditto scallops above.

          SO.... With the appetizers it's obvious that Chardonnay in some form is a must, either "straight" or as blanc de blancs. To pick up any edgier seasonings I'd probably go with riesling as the 2nd offering with the apps.

          NOW that we have our wines, work backwards for the appropriate cheese plate: Gruyere and Chevre for the Chardonnay/BdeB.... Emmental and aged gouda for Riesling (the latter also nice with chardonnay). A wedge of brie or camembert also if you must. Epoisses if you add a pinot/rose champagne to the line up.

          ARUGALA SALAD: This is not real flavor-focused, each ingredient favoring a different wine. Instead, since you have chardonnay on the table construct something very chard-friendly: like a Grilled Asparagus salad with walnuts and a gruyere dressing (instead of the cabrales which is an outlier here).

          MUSHROOM RISOTTO w/ GOAT CHEESE: This is very wine-friendly dish. Alot of wines will work here, so whatever you pick with the other dishes is probably going to work fine.

          RED SNAPPER: The safest wine for the seasoning combination here, IMO, is riesling.

          CHICKPEA CURRY: Riesling again.

          So what 4 wines?

          WHITES: Chardonnay, Champagne Blanc de Blancs, and/or Riesling

          REDS: Pinot Noir sort of weaves through this dinner. Given that it's a wedding, maybe a Rose Champagne....

          FINAL ANSWER, lol: Rose Champagne, Chardonnay, and Riesling... 1st choice... OR Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Riesling, and Pinot Noir (2nd choice)

          That leaves room for a really nice dessert wine.... Sauternes perhaps ?

          Both of these lineups really have a festive "wedding-y" feel to them, also... congratulations, btw.

          1. I don't see anything on your menu that's asking for red wine. This looks like a white wine menu, all through. and your favorite Riesling is going to go nicely with most of it!

            I'd add some sort of sparkling wine (whatever your price point) --probably a good Spanish Cava (we like Segura Viudas a lot!) and I wouldn't worry about the red.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ChefJune

              very true... there's really not much red-wine connectivity here, not that that is a bad thing. If you're looking to feature a richer red, perhaps you could list your fave red-oriented entrees and we could work backwards from there to the wine...

              1. re: ChefJune

                ChefJune, I have the greatest respect for your advice on food-wine pairings, and I would agree that nothing on this menu begs for red wine. I would personally stick to a nice Riesling and a nice sparkling wine. ( I could drink a nice Prosecco until the cows come home, and if I could afford it, I'd be drinking Champagne for breakfast).

                But I will respectfully disagree about ignoring the red. Unless you have the good fortune of only having friends and family who are true gourmets, this would be a huge mistake. This is a wedding, and you will have a mix of people, and most of them (unless you happen to be in the gourmet food industry and all your friends are chefs and vintners, and your family is an Italian/California Wine Dynasty, and you're marrying Thomas Keller!) don't care if what they are drinking doesn't quite match the food. And so i think you have to have a red choice of some kind, as there are many people who drink red wine with everything they eat. Usually, you can convince them to try a nice white, but even then they still prefer any red to a white.

                The alcohol you choose for a wedding has to be tailored to the crowd. So In Winnipeg, at a wedding attended by Koreans only, one would probably skip wine completely and make sure there is a lot of soft drinks and hard alcohol (Korean society is an odd mix of temperance and hard core drinking). Add some Westerners into the mix, start adding a bit more wine and beer. In Montreal, wine has to be included in all social events. When we buy wine for weddings, we usually go 70% red, 30% white, plus some sparkling. This is regardless of what is being served for dinner, and I would say that a majority of wedding meals lean towards white wine, since chicken is one of the least offensive and inexpensive choices available for large events like weddings. The more expensive weddings will offer a choice of red meat or seafood, again leaving the option for white wine. Despite this tendency towards meals that favour white wine pairings, I would say that using this 70/30 formula of red/white wine, almost all the red wine is gone by the end of the night, whereas a bunch of the white wine remains. Ironically, the white wine is often the more interesting wine, better QPR, matches well with the food, but it is still left behind. (however, the popularity of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc has skyrocketed amongst our group of friends, and now more are willing to try white wines and experiment a little. But they drink the white, and then go on to put back their usual amount of red! Chablis and Reislings are my next project with them, and Txacoli went over very well, must try to get some here). If you ran out of red wine at a wedding here, it would be a social disaster, akin to the bride running off with one of the groomsmen, or the wedding tent collapsing during the ceremony.

                So I think the couple needs to assess the guests they will be inviting, and decide accordingly about the red. They may be able to get away without red, but it might be better to find a red that is without flaws and is reasonably food friendly. I think a light Pinot Noir is a nice suggestion, and I have also had good luck with pairing lighter Valpolicella with many different dishes. The other nice thing about Valpolicella (and other lighter Italian reds) is that you can get a reasonable bottle for a good price ($10-20). A Gamay may also fit the bill, and I always like experimenting with bottles of Beaujolais when trying to find a red to match white-wine friendly meals (maybe a Fleury?). Obviously, the goal is a match made in heaven. But a reasonable compromise is a red wine that doesn't clash with the food. If I suggested that someone not have red wine at their wedding here, they'd probably stuff me in a box and Express Post me back to Winnipeg!

                1. re: moh

                  I agree, and consider what will happen with leftovers. Our venue's liquor license situation allowed us to keep all the extra alcohol and because we didn't plan for the 70/30 red/white formula, we were left with a ton of extra Chard.

                  Also, before you buy 20 bottles and find the perfect pairings, get a list of what your venue/caterer can provide. We had to choose twice because the wholesaler our venue used didn't have 90% of what we originally wanted.

                  Congrats and enjoy!

              2. I'd go with the whites you like! As others have said, if you give us a price point we can help better, but keeping it fairly inexpensive you could do a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (available under $15) and a Dr. L Riesling (available under $14).

                Red, I'd go pinot if you are willing to bump up the price a little bit -- say to about $20 -- where you could get a Saintsbury Garnet or La Crema Sonoma Coast.

                If you are willing to go higher in price I can give you a whole lot more suggestions! :-D

                1. OP here. Thank you everyone for the advice. I am glad that most of you agree that Riesling is a good choice. We'll have to decide on the 2nd white... maybe rethink not having Chardonnay... or just go with Sauv. Blanc (I definitely agree on Kim Crawford, it's a very good deal, and might be a great option). We are also getting sparkling wine for toasting...

                  I definitely agree that the whites are more appropriate for our menu, however, like one of the posters has said, we really can't not have red as an option. Most of our friends actually prefer red, and some won't even drink white (I myself don't fall too far from that... Riesling is really the only white I would drink HAPPILY, and would chose it over many reds. Sauvignon blanc maybe sometimes... but really that's it). I think taking into account who is attending, not having red wine would be perceived as quite odd by a lot of guests.

                  Pinot Noir might be a great choice, given the responses. Our budget is under $15/bottle, so it might be a bit of a challenge... We definitely still want to have a second red (again, maybe not something that's ideal, but at least won't clash with the food too much.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: ikNYC

                    I would STRONGLY advise that you go for a Barbera in the red under $15 category that might match your menu. Icardi makes a great one, as do others. I'd go to a wine store that specializes in Italian wine and just get a few to try. But I really belive given your menu and price range, Barbera is the way to go.

                    For sparkling wine... I like Mumm's Napa Blac de Noirs. I buy it from Safeway for about $12/bottle and nothing can touch it at that price.

                    1. re: whiner

                      This Mumm recco is a great one. It's truly a good bubbly for that price.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        You and whiner have both been invaluable resources to me with bubbly, but yikes, I've never thought of Mumm's Blanc de Noirs as anything more than mediocre. We don't see it in NY for that price; at $12, I think I would still much prefer a Gruet BdN.

                        1. re: mengathon

                          Well, it's not Champagne Charlie, but it's fine for a wedding for $12 per...

                          ...and is in keeping with the $15/bottle budget.

                          I DO tend towards more expensive tastes than the Mumm....Alas!

                          Meng, what price do you see the Gruet in NY? Just curious.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              The Gruet is usually between $11-$14 in NYC. The Mumm Napa is usually a couple of bucks more.

                              1. re: mengathon

                                Not sure what these are currently in NYC, but what do you think about Piper Sonoma and Roederer Estate? For California sparkling wines, I think the non-vintage versions of these are particularly good value. Here in California, the Piper Sonoma is $10-12 and Roederer $15-18. When I've been on the east coast, I've had better price/value finds with cavas.

                                1. re: souvenir

                                  I've not had either the Piper Sonoma and the Roederer Estate only once at a wedding, so I cant comment as to their quality. The Roederer is usually close to $18.

                                  It's been awhile since I've been drank a lot of cavas, but it's always nice to be able to have a bottle of bubbly in a NYC restaurant for less than $40.

                                  1. re: mengathon

                                    Don't know how common this one is around NYC, but I tried it recently, really liked it, particularly for the price pont:

                                    Codorniu Cava Pinot Noir Brut - was $10something

                                    Went back bought more to serve as a pre-dinner with nibbles choice when we had some people over. Some folks liked it so much, they stuck with it through the meal.

                                    So far I've served or had it with mostly spanish or moroccan spiced food (seafood paella, moroccan chicken, spanish pork) or appetizers (olives, breads, almonds, cheese, ham).

                      2. re: ikNYC

                        maybe even a saumur (or other Loire red) .. they are typically quite affordable and red wise pretty friendly food wise being cab franc, pinot noir, cab sauv or gamay .. if you want something with a bit more body I've found that most minervois is affordable and drinkable & could work well at a wedding

                        1. re: ikNYC

                          For a budget under $15 per bottle, you can certainly find nice rieslings in that range. As for a red wine in the 15-20 range, consider Valpolicella Ripassa... quite elegant in impressive bottles, nice young, silky texture, no bitterness....

                          It's as good a connection to this meal as any other red wine, and is pleasant to drink by itself. It avoids that "cheap" appearance of a $15 pedestrian california cabernet.

                          1. re: ikNYC

                            I would avoid any Chardonnay in the under $20 catagory (esp. CA or Aussie)... the majority can be pretty awful. One option would be to look to French Chablis for something that would pair with your wonderful sounding menu.

                            1. re: firecooked

                              Maybe it is a difference in our locations, but more likely taste preferences. I have a difficult time finding good French chablis for under $20. I'd love to hear what you recommend.

                              On the other hand, I can think of any number of California chardonnays that are superb value and under $20, actually well under that. I didn't mention chardonnay earlier, because the OP basically said ABC.

                              1. re: souvenir

                                I may need to recalibrate on Chablis, its been a while since I have bought any... There are good inexpensive Ca Chardonnay's out there, but I have not been lucky lately with random picks.

                                1. re: souvenir

                                  La Chablisienne and William Fevre have pretty good offerings right around $20