Wedding wines

Posted on: 8th February, 2016

Category: Food & Wine

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

I put my hand up. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on this topic. When our son had his wedding reception on a sunny August day in Dunmore House Hotel, a family friend happened to be an importer of fine French wine. So that was the wedding wines sorted. Well not quite, there was still the question of corkage — a charge made for allowing you to choose and bring your own wine. There appears to be no standard fee. Some hotels choose not to make any charge while others charge more than the cost of the bottle of wine! I phoned a popular local wedding hotel and was told that they charge €10 per bottle of red or white and €12 per bubbly. Perhaps that can be taken as the norm.

There are different schools of thought on choosing your wine. In the local supermarket I’m informed the most popular choices are French or Chilean and often the half-price offers are availed of. Quantity is not a big problem if you choose to buy from somewhere such as O’Brien’s, which allows sale or return. As a rule of thumb you need to calculate a half bottle per guest and equal amounts of white and red, although the latter suggestion is somewhat seasonal in that white is more popular in the summer, red in the winter.

As for the style of wine, Victoria Moore, the Telegraph’s expert wine writer, recommends going for ‘light unoaked whites and juicy reds that aren’t so heavy they make everyone feel sleepy.’

If I had to make a personal choice I would go for a nice Riesling for the white, either from Austria, Alsace or the new world. For red, a light good quality Valpolicella, Dolcetta or even Bardolino from Italy, or a good Beaujolais from France, preferably from one of the 10 Cru villages.

Finally there is the question of bubbly. Champagne if your pockets are deep, but keep in mind there are lovely sparkling wines produced in 23 other regions of France. These are much more reasonably priced because they do not come from the official Champagne region in the northeast of France.

Consider also Cava from Spain, and of course Prosecco from Italy, which is on a high popularity curve, outstripping sales of Champagne for the first time.

One final suggestion, to please those guests who prefer beer to wine, why not consider providing some craft beers from the growing number of Irish producers. I have it on good authority that there is even a Clonakilty brew coming on the market in the near future.

Wedding wine recommendations:

White – Dolle Austrian Riesling, Supervalu, €10. Yes, I have tipped this before, but it is seriously good!

Red – Rizzardi Bardolino Classico. O’Brien’s, €14.49. Yes, more pricey, but to make my point, add on €10 corkage — you are still getting a delicious wine from one of the best growers on the shores of Lake Garda arguably for less than the hotel house wine.

Lidl Valpolicella, €8.99. Great value red showing all of the lovely cherry qualities of wine made in the Verona region. Pure Valpolicella is sadly becoming something of a rarity, as most of the grapes used to make it (Rondinella and Corvina) are now reserved for much stronger (and more expensive) Amarone and Ripasso wines.

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Lecture by Aileen Crean O’Brien & Bill Sheppard

In May 2016, Kerry man Tom Crean, along with Ernest Shackleton and four other crew members, landed the James Caird lifeboat on the rocky isle of South Georgia. The navigation of that small boat, across 1500 km through icy winds and towering seas, is regarded as the greatest ever feat of navigation. They then trekked across the forbidding and inhospitable mountains and glaciers of South Georgia to seek help for the rest of their crew, who were left behind on Elephant Island after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the Antarctic ice.

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