In the years since, I've bulked up on both wine and wedding knowledge, and I've seen the question of what to serve for the toast cause more than one bridal panic attack. The good news? It can actually be one of the easiest, most cost-effective decisions you make. Here are five mantras to help stay relaxed in the process.
No One Needs to Remember the Wine
I realize that's a bold thing to say to an audience of wine lovers, but unless you're a wine connoisseur marrying a wine connoisseur celebrated by your connoisseur friends and family, your "special bottle" will be misunderstood by half the guests. Do you want to watch a case you've cellared--or purchased at massive expense--be distributed to Aunt Edna, who prefers hers with Sprite? No. The bubbles you're breaking out won't be the center of attention here; if you're doing it right, they'll be lost in the noise of all the happiness (and cake) radiating off of those getting hitched.
That said, while you don't need the sparkling wine to be memorably good, you also want to avoid memorably bad. It may seem intimidating, but this is one of the wine world's easiest targets to hit.
Photo courtesy of e_calamar via Flickr/cc
No One Needs Champagne
Now, I love Champagne, but we're talking about a specific situation here where money counts and breathtaking quality does not. We want delicious and delicate, cake-worthy and crowd-pleasing, and for that we can look outside of France. Consider Cava (Spain), Prosecco (Italy), or shut down the search and just order cases from Gruet, in New Mexico. Their phenomenal flagship Brut goes for around $15 a magnum, and will please everyone from Aunt Edna to your cousin the wine snob.
For those working with a caterer, check during the introductory process whether they'll source the things you want, or if they charge corkage (and whether it's exorbitant) if you opt to select and purchase your sparkling wine on your own.
No One Needs More Than A Little
If you're on the tightest possible budget, don't just hit the bottom shelf at the grocery store because it's the only way you'll get 100 people sauced on sparkling wine. Pick the lovelier bottles for a few dollars more, and serve people less of it. You only need one glass served at the moment of the toast for maximum celebratory impact; it doesn't need to flow like you're in a Jay-Z video. Though, if you're looking for bottles solely to shake and spray, go ahead and get back to the bottom shelf at the store. That stuff will do.
No One Needs to Tell You What to Do
The worst part of wedding planning is being told what's proper, what's required, what your parents did, what your parents would never do, what may offend two- thirds of your guests and what's expected by the rest. There's an undeniable romance and tradition to toasting a newly married couple with a Champagne flute, but you're in charge and if standard sparkling wine's not your bag, your wedding won't be worse for it. If you'd like something a little sweeter, look into Moscato d'Asti; if you want something wild, taste your way through inky, sparkling Shiraz. It's as good a way as any to wish someone well.
Five Sparklers to Try
And what is the most relaxing part of planning the booze for your wedding?
Research. Here are five affordable (and widely available) sparklers to try in your quest for the right bottle.
Gruet Brut NV
Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava
Zardetto Brut Prosecco
Mionetto Prosecco Brut Treviso DOC
Bera Moscato d’Asti 2010