This is a guest post by Mr STG (Karen’s husband)
I thought it was high time that I contributed to Smashing The Glass.
What Karen started when we got married has become a really beautiful website and the stories that I hear of connections being made through the blog make me very proud of what she has achieved. Karen has created a community of like-minded creative and dedicated people who want to deliver with a little bit more panache and who are prepared to go that bit further. How very refreshing.
Now what is it that I can contribute?
I thought at this stage I might offer up what I hope might be helpful advice as to choosing and sourcing an integral part of any celebration — the BOOZE!
First things first: a great money saving tip
Should you buy the alcohol or allow the venue or caterer to supply the booze?
This is a fundamental question. Some venues and / or caterers will want to charge corkage if you supply the alcohol but it may well prove to be a cost-effective decision to pay corkage or a fee to source and supply your own booze. I say this on the basis that with the likes of Majestic and others being more than happy to offer substantial discounts when buying in quantity. By paying a fee or corkage and choosing your bottles well, you will end up drinking far better quality for less money.
How to decide what to serve
Having decided on whether you are going to acquire the booze, now on to the selections…
This is what I suggest you do on the basis of mistakes made, lessons learnt, hospitality well received, as well as when I think I might have got it right all on my own!.
What I intend to do in keeping with STG style is suggest ideas that might be a little different and allow you, the soon-to-be-married, to stamp your own touches on your day.
So let’s start at the beginning. What do you serve your guests at a reception?
Our wedding reception (click here to see our full wedding)
Interesting drinks to serve at your reception
This will depend on the time of year and indeed the time of day you are giving your guests their first drinks.
How about mulled wine?
One stand out suggestion that comes direct from a winter wedding I was fortunate to be invited to up in Lancashire is Mulled Wine. Served up as guests arrived, at a marque erected on the side of a farm, on a snowy afternoon with temperatures hovering around, but mostly below zero it was a truly brilliant idea. Warming, flavoursome and really different. If you are going to do this you are going to need some help form caterers to keep it warm. Tea urns work well. You can buy kits for making Mulled Wine, but if you are going to take it on yourself, the trick is not to add too much fortified wine otherwise your party might be over before it’s even started.
If you are having an early reception or the weather is going to be warm then a tasty, tangy and light drink to kick things off is the Italian classic, Aperol Spritz. The classic measure is 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part club soda. I think that a little less Aperol works better and the drink is transformed by the zest of orange rind but it does need to be served ice cold. The great thing about this drink is that it is full of spring and summer aromas and flavours and it does not take your head off.
Whilst on the subject of alternatives, I have no hesitation in suggesting Prosecco as an alternative to Champagne. On an empty stomach on a warm day it is a far more enjoyable to drink, than a really dry Champagne. I do not make this suggestion to save money but as an actual preference.
A personal favourite that I would choose any day is Prosecco Frizzante Torri della Marca NV.
I am not a fan of the obvious big brands which I think are hugely over priced for what they are. Do remember that you will always be able to negotiate with suppliers when ordering in quantity and some will automatically offer discounts on cases.
J de Telmont Grande Reserve NV is a brilliant value champagne at just under £20 a bottle but when buying in bulk should be more like £16- £17 a bottle. It is made by a family owned house and is a really good drinkable champagne.
Nicolas Feuillatte NV champagne is another good option at about £24 a bottle and in bulk more like £18- £19 a bottle. This is dryer than the de Telmont suggested above.
If you wish to go big and glorious you simply cannot beat Louis Roederer Brut Premiere NV you should be able to purchase this in bulk between £29 and £34 a bottle. This is a truly great and lesser known champagne so please keep it to yourselves! For your information this is the little sister of Louis Roderer Cristal — yours for £150 a bottle.
An absolute must is to have a really interesting non-alcoholic drink available at receptions in the form of elderflower cocktails or ginger based cocktails which are both thirst quenching and full of subtle flavour. It is also a good idea to have both still and sparkling water readily available — hydration before dehydration as they say…
It’s now time to eat
The choices of what to drink now needs to be dictated by what you are eating, the time of day, and the climate.
You do need to give yourself an opportunity of tasting your menu with a selection of wines to see what goes best. Most venues and caterers are entirely happy to assist with this and will often be very helpful.
What I now say about wine selection is general and I make a few suggestions which I hope will prove to be helpful.
Dinner tables at our wedding (click here to see our full wedding)
I think that in your choice of white wine it’s always sensible to aim for something medium dry rather than bone crushingly dry. I have to say that I have found Italian to work very well and particularly Gavi. It’s fresh and has a slight citrus thing going on and can be very easily drunk on its own yet it stands up to being enjoyed alongside food. It should be served cool but not freezing. I also think that it works for those who are going to stay with white wine for the rest of the meal.
Recommended White Wines
Gavi 2014 La Toledana is really good and we served this at our wedding. In fact I have to thank my sister for introducing me to this wine — it has now become a firm family favourite. In terms of value for money at about £11 a bottle, it’s really good value.
Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2014 Margaret River is a full flavoured wine at £14 a bottle and will stand up to whatever you wish to serve it with. It is very good value for money and has the style of a much more expensive wine.
Pinot Grigio 2014 Natale Verga is an alternative that you could serve with nearly anything and have people happily sipping away at your reception for about £6 a bottle. Outstanding value.
Red wine I think divides opinion. Some like their red big and heavy, and some light and lively. Obvious to say but it does depend on what you are serving. Strong flavours in your food need to be matched with more strongly flavoured red wine. Some try to solve the problem by choosing a couple of red wines — one robust one, and one with a little less power but perhaps more subtlety.
A suggestion which works with lots of different food is Italian sangiovese as a grape variety it is a really good bet. I am of the view that with sangiovese you get a balance of flavour which is always pleasing and succulent. You could try Morellino di Scansano Poggioargentiera.
Recommended Red Wines
I have suggested Morellino above, and at about £8 a bottle it is simply brilliant I served this at our wedding and those that drunk it loved it.
Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso is a full bodied classic and at about £12 a bottle excellent value for money. The longer it is given to breathe, the better it gets.
If you want to go lighter then an enjoyable option is Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2013 Nicolas Potel which at under £10 a bottle is really elegant.
Concluding thoughts and tips
You can always buy your wines in sales and when they are on special offer way ahead of time. Do remember that the likes of Majestic are completely geared up to help. They will offer good discounts and you do not need to worry about running out of your wines and drinks, or over catering because you can always return what you do not use.
You may also find this wedding drink calculator useful to work out your wedding drink requirements — it’s always best to have more than enough.
Finally a really useful tool for keeping track of the bottles you’re interested in is to create a board on Pinterest and pin them directly from whichever retailer you’re sourcing them from online.
I hope that you have found something of interest and use in this post, meanwhile I take this opportunity of raising a glass to you and your forth coming day.
pin for later: