Wedding planning as a whole is a thoroughly exhausting exercise and picking out wines for your big day is not a simple task. With questions like who is going to like what and what is going to work well with the catering chosen, the list of considerations goes on and on. I, personally, gave up control over the beverages and let the caterer decide, but you shouldn’t have to.
To learn all about the wines you should be drinking on your big day, we spoke to Aditya Lamba, Wine Connoisseur for DFS Group. Aditya can provide wine tips and recommendations to help you make the best choice with Singapore’s first online luxury e-commerce platform, iShopChangiWines.com, offering tax and duty-absorbed priced premium wines, champagnes and sakes – divulges much of his expertise here.
Read on to discover all you need to know for picking wines for your big day.
First off, what should couples look for in whites, reds, sparklings and rosés?
The ideal way to select wines would vary considerably based on the couple. The recent trend among young couples getting married in Singapore is to pick the wines they usually drink when they go out for dinners/lunches or the wines they drink at home. Other couples leave it to the preferences of the people attending the wedding.
My “general” suggestion while helping people pick out wedding wines is to keep the whites light and fresh – Sauvignon Blancs, light Chardonnays, Grüner Veltliner etc. There should be reds in the medium body/palate category to satisfy the varying red wine preferences since some people prefer their reds light – like pinot and some heavy – like tannic red wine. It’s ideal to stick to something in the middle.
Champagne for toast and rosé to add some colour in the glasses (considering there’ll be a lot of photos being taken, a glass of rose or champagne in one hand adds a bit more elegance).
If the groom can prepare in advance how to sabre a bottle of champagne, it would add a touch of aristocracy to the wedding.
It would be good for the couple to consider the following points to select the different wines:
What does your food menu consist of?
- For example, if heavy meats – go for a full-bodied wine, if a flavoursome fish dish – go for a rich white.
- Who is attending the wedding – heavy drinkers, non-drinkers etc.
- What’s the theme of the wedding – sit down dinner with several courses, buffet-style spread (the general recommendation mentioned would work), black-tie event (maybe more champagnes and rose), destination wedding – beach (more rose & whites)
The next major step is to determine a budget for each category. Every wedding will have an alcohol budget be it $1,000 or $10,000. Determine how much you would like to spend in total on wines followed by how much on each category – whites, reds, champagnes etc.
Once you have an idea regarding the budget for each category, you will have a better understanding of how much you would like to spend per bottle. A 750ml bottle of wine should give around 5-7 glasses. Champagnes would consume a major chunk if you plan to keep some, or you may go for a relatively less expensive alternative such as Cava, Prosecco, Cremant and spread the cost equally for each category.
The key is to stick to a professional recommendation, or somewhat know what your audience would like to drink. Do make sure you taste your wines before the wedding. For those in Singapore, since, iShopChangiWines.com also provides free delivery for all orders above SGD$150, you can easily order a few bottles in advance to taste them before the big day. The last thing you would want is something that tastes different and not to your liking for your wedding dinner.
What variety of wine is sufficient at a Western and a Chinese wedding dinner?
For a western wedding, people do consume a lot of whites, sparkling & rose in comparison to a Chinese wedding. For Chinese weddings where a lot of old school wine drinkers will be attending, I have seen people ordering Bordeaux & Burgundy wines which consist predominantly of reds.
My recommendation would be to keep in mind some off-dry Rieslings (Dr Loosen Riesling Kabinett, Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling 2018). Gewürztraminers is good to pair with a wide range of food items, including spicy dishes at a Chinese wedding. The couple should also consider some sweet wines with the desserts to end the meal, as there may be a female population inclined towards sweet wines like Marchesi Antinori Prunotto Moscato D’Asti DOCG, Beni Di Batasiolo Moscato D’Asti Bosc Dla Rei DOCG.
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We hear things like how wine should be more acidic or sweeter than the food, what does that actually mean?
I am not sure if it is accurate to say that the acidity or sweetness of the wine should be more than the food. The ideal rule of thumb is to match flavours in the food with the flavours in the wine; hence, it is called food and wine pairing. It is a marriage between food and wine where one should not supersede the other but rather, be in harmony with each other.
High acidity wines pair well with fatty/creamy foods and some sweet dishes. If you pair a sweet wine with a dessert and the sweetness in the wine is more than your dessert, your dessert will not taste as good as it should.
How do you mirror the flavours of dishes in the wine selection?
The way to have a good food and wine paired dinner is to match the intensity of flavours in the dish with the flavours in the wine.
Other basic rules would include:
- Match aromas and flavours. For example, if it’s a spicy dish, pair it with something that would not interfere with the dish, off-dry Rieslings, Gewurztraminer (Dr Loosen Riesling Kabinett).
- Use the acidity in the wine to balance the dish (complement the acidity in the wines to balance the acidity in the dish). For example, a high acidity rich pasta would complement a Chianti which has high acidity as well.
- Match the texture of the food with the texture of the wine. For example, pairing steak with a heavy red like the Reserve Speciale Barons De Rothschild Medoc and a nice juicy steak. A light wine with heavy meat will not do the trick as the textures will not match.
- Pair the wine with the sauce and not just the meat. For example, a fish in a rich tomato sauce can pair really well with a light to medium-bodied red wine and not just white wine.
If you’re not very sure if the flavours are a match, go for the classic food and wine pairings as every grape varietal has a classic food dish to be paired with and it qualifies as a classic pairing because it’s been perfected over time.
Lastly, follow your own preferences – if you think that the wine pairs well with the dishes you’ve chosen, and people would love it, just follow your heart even though the basic rules don’t say so. After all, taste is subjective!
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Does how the meal is prepared matter to the wine that should be drunk?
There is no strict rule on the correlation between how a meal is prepared and the wine pairing. It’s more regarding on the end products, the ingredients, the sauce, acidity, type of meat, textures etc. that guides how the wine should be drunk. Food preparation contributes to the texture of the dish, but it does not entirely rule how the wines should be drunk.
Fried foods like fried seafood, fried spring rolls etc. would pair well with a high acidity white or sparkling wine as it would cut through the fat used to fry these items. For example, Yalumba Y Series South Australia Pinot Grigio, Oyster Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Pessac Leognan De Carbonnieux. Whereas a baked fish dish and baked pasta may have different wines for it to be paired with depending on the sauce for each of the dish.
What is active tasting, and how do we get better at that?
The only way to get better at wine tasting is by tasting more and more wines as often as you can.
Try concentrating on the three major aspects:
- The appearance of the wine
- Nose (aromas in the wine and what you can relate with those aromas)
- The palate, which is the taste of the wines
Learn the basic difference between the major grape varietal and relate them while you are tasting those specific varietals.
It is similar to being able to differentiate between an apple and orange juice in a blind tasting as we grew up drinking them and are so familiar with the taste of the two. A sommelier will have tasted so many wines in his/her life and only gets better at his/her job by tasting more and more wines every day.
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Everything from soil to climate matters in producing wine. Are there wines from specific regions that best complement certain dishes?
Yes, all the factors combined together that influence a wine is called terroir in French. Terroir is the most important factor in how the wine comes to shape. In simpler terms, you may see fruits in the market from different countries and regions would be different from fruits from elsewhere. Similarly, there are different type of grape varietals which have a different taste and aroma profile based on where the grapes are grown. A Chardonnay grown in Burgundy produces a different style of wine compared to a Chardonnay grown in Australia.
Yes, there are wines from specific regions that have classic pairings with dishes from their own region for which the pairing has been mastered over centuries. If they grow in the same place, they are a good match.
A few examples include:
- Boeuf bourguignon (beef burgundy) & Pinot Noir (which is the main grape of Burgundy)
- Port & Blue cheese (example: Portal Fine Ruby Port)
- Champagne & oysters (example: Champagne Carbon Blanc De Blanc)
- Argentinian Asado & Argentinian Malbecs (example: Chateau Lagrezette Malbec)
- Spanish Tempranillo & Paella (example: Altos Ibericos Crianza)
- Risotto al’Amarone & Amarone wine (example: Masi Nectar Costasera Amarone Classico)
Are there any wines in particular you recommend for an outdoor wedding somewhere tropical?
If it is a wedding in an outdoor tropical wedding location, I would recommend keeping a major selection of brut champagne/rose champagne, dry rose and dry, refreshing white wines.
Some selection from iShopChangiWines.com includes the Chateau Lagrezettele Rose De Julie Rose, Saint Andrieu Rose and Champagne Carbon Rose. If you have some heavy meats or a barbeque – I would recommend keeping a small number of reds in hand for the heavy red drinkers such as a Bordeaux or Barossa etc.
As a general suggestion for having reds in an outdoor event, stick to light summer reds that can be drunk slightly chilled such as pinot noirs (Waipara Hills Central Otago Pinot Noir and Wine Spots Carneros Pinot Noir).
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When it comes to wine varieties, what are your personal favourites?
My personal preferences vary every month. I love my Pinot Noirs, and I think it’s the best red varietal suitable for tropical weather. A good glass of vintage champagne never disappoints, and as for whites, I love Austrian wines. I also enjoy some oaked Chardonnays for my food pairings.
Finally, can you tell us a bit about what couples can expect in selecting wine with iShopChangiWines.com?
When people decide on the wines for their wedding, despite paying a good price for the wines, they might not be getting the quality for what they are paying. But with iShopChangiWines.com, they do not have to worry as the duties and taxes have already been absorbed for the consumers.
For example, an SGD$25-$30 wine at iShopChangiWines.com would be better than an SGD$25-$30 wine available in the market in terms of quality and price value. The cost used to purchase a normal wine in the local market can be used to purchase a higher quality wine which is typically more expensive because DFS absorbs the taxes and duties.