The wine buff: Add sparkle to your day
If you're planning nuptials this year, congratulations! But as we all know, it's not just about the dress, the venue and the guest list, there are also plenty of decisions to be made when it comes to food and wine. With more people opting for less traditional weddings, the day can be as formal or as casual as you like, and this, as well as the number of people invited, is going to influence the wines you choose for your Big Day.
If you're having a laid-back approach and going with a hog roast or food truck, you will probably want to consider beer as well as wine. You may even go for a Prosecco truck; but generally, it comes down to three categories of wine - sparkling, white and red.
Many venues allow you to bring your own wine, and charge a corkage fee, which can be quite hefty, but you'll still end up coming out ahead on cost and will be able to choose from a much broader range of wines.
Leading independent off-licences, like O'Brien's, Wines Direct and JC Kenny in Galway, will organise a private tasting, and work on a sale-or-return basis.
O'Brien's have wines on promotion each month, so it's well worth keeping an eye on these offers. Their Arcobello Prosecco Frizzante, which is at times reduced to €9.95, is great value; also keep an eye out for Tesco's 25pc-off sale, and SuperValu has a buy-six-and-save €10 offer.
You'll get a 10pc discount at the Corkscrew in Dublin city centre, where they're currently fitting tasting rooms in the premises above the shop, and the Molloy's group has a tasting room in their Clonsilla branch. They have a good selection that will work for a wedding as well as a very well-priced Prosecco, Borgo da Sassi Prosecco, for €10.95.
"When choosing the wine it's important to think about what will suit the majority of guests," says Lynne Coyle, Master of Wine and Director of O'Brien's. "Even if your own personal favourite is a heavily-oaked powerful Bordeaux, this style can be a challenge for a big group of people, so always try to veer towards wine styles that are crowd pleasers - fruity, accessible and not too heavy.
"Consider also what the weather might be like at the time of the wedding rather than when you choose the wine - so whilst a crisp, dry white might not appeal on a cold February day, it would be perfect on a sunny May afternoon."
As a rule of thumb, allow a half bottle of wine per guest for dinner, and two to three drinks per guest for the drinks reception. And don't forget the non-drinkers - have some zero-alcohol beers and non-alcoholic sparkling wine.
And a final tip from Lynne: "If you are looking for ways to save money on your sparkling, pour a screwcap Frizzante as the arrival drink and keep the fully sparkling wine for the toast."
Going to a wine fair is a great way to sample a wide range of wines before making your wedding selection. There will be over 150 wines at the Corkscrew wine fair in Dublin tomorrow and the next O'Brien's wine festival, with over 250 wines, runs from May 9-11 in Limerick and Dublin. And if you're looking for spirit miniatures, which are popular as wedding favours, they can be ordered at molloys.ie
Exquisite Collection Crémant de Jura, Brut
€11.99, 12pc, from Aldi
A great price for a lovely sparkling wine, this award-winning bubbly is made from 100pc Chardonnay in the traditional bottle fermented style. Deliciously refreshing with a crisp wash of green apples and persistent bubbles.
Terra Serena Prosecco DOC Frizzante
€13.95, 11pc, The Corkscrew, Deveney's Redmond's, Hole in the Wall, Number 21 Off Licences, Joyce's Supermarkets, Ardkeen Stores
Light and frothy, this is perfect for Prosecco lovers, with its fruity, quaffable flavours of pear, lemon and ripe apple.
Valhondo Brut Cava
€14.95 reduced from €17.95, 11.5pc, from O'Briens and obrienswine.ie
A crisp, clean cava with zesty flavours of ripe lemon, lime and fresh, green apple. Made using the Champagne method, so beautiful bubbles for toasting.