It’s the season for autumn weddings – I’m attending two of them this year, one for a lovely friend and another just a week later for my cousin. I’m interested to see what will be on their menus and what will be featured at their cocktail hour stations, and I’m excited to taste the wine.
Lots of people wonder if their guests can actually taste the difference between good wine and marginal wine, and after hearing all the compliments on the Champagne and wine selections at my sister’s wedding last year, I can confirm that guests really do appreciate good quality wine at a wedding. So it is a good idea to choose the best wines you can for a wedding. And weddings with an autumn theme are a great opportunity to choose wines to pair with fascinating seasonal flavors.
For your toast, a sparkling wine is a must. When we think of sparkling wine and Champagne, we think of a flute filled with a pale golden bubbly wine. However, if you want to change it up and perhaps choose a sparkling wine with a bit more depth to match the cooler weather and stand up to heartier cuisine, perhaps try a Rose sparkling wine or Champagne, made from red grapes but with limited contact with the grape skins.
For your white wine, Sauvignon Blanc is always a delicious and relatively safe choice as it has bright acidity, making it particularly food friendly and easy to pair with lots of dishes. However, often an autumn or harvest theme features dishes with apple, pear, fig, pumpkin, and butternut squash, and these pair especially nicely with Chardonnay. In addition, Chardonnay pairs well with both seafood and poultry. Unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnays are easier to pair with food as they are crisper than Chardonnays with more oak contact, as oaky Chardonnays tend to be a bit on the dense side with sometimes bold characteristics such as baking spices and vanilla. Those characteristics make oaky Chardonnays less versatile and not everyone likes a bold white wine – so if you decide to go with a Chardonnay, perhaps keep that in mind and choose a less oaky wine.
Taking into account the produce mentioned in the previous paragraph as well as gentle spices, perhaps the best choice for a red wine is Pinot Noir, a very food friendly red wine and perhaps my favorite wine for transitioning from the summer into the cooler months. Pinot Noir has enough brightness to pair with many dishes, including meats, poultry, and even some seafood, but a velvety texture perfect for a cool day or evening. However, bolder reds that pair very well with meats include Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah based wines.
Autumn and harvest themes are a perfect chance to be creative with the food and the wine and are themselves a celebration of nature’s bounty, so if you’re having an autumn wedding, try choosing seasonal foods for your menu and cocktail hour stations, and enjoy picking the perfect wines to pair!