"Wine comes in at the mouth. And love comes in at the eye." W.B. Yeats
Everyone knows Dom and Mondavi, but when it comes to wine for weddings, Master Sommelier Matthew Citriglia encourages couples to "be adventurous." Thoughtful selection of high-caliber, yet lesser known wines from the world's premier grape-growing regions can elevate your event to a truly exciting sensory experience, says Citriglia, a consultant and Vice Chair of the Court of Master Sommeliers.
While he professes that asking a sommelier to choose your wine is a bit like "walking into the library and asking a librarian to pick out a book for you to read," his suggestions are broadly appealing, "but not run of the mill."
"You can't have too many good wines," advises Citriglia, who suggests pairing "a red and white with every course." Well-matched wines can enhance guests' dining experiences, but Citriglia says that "the atmosphere is more important than anything that's on the label." You won't necessarily recall the name of the champagne you served, but you'll remember the people who toasted your love and shared your happiest day.
Canella Prosecco di Conegliano NV: "Prosecco, when it is well made like this one, is a great aperitif, perfect for toasting," says Citriglia. The Italian-style bubbly is made in two Veneto towns; look for bottles from Conegliano. "The quality is a quantum leap over other Prosecco." 2001 Bellavista Franciacorta Gran Cuvée: Citriglia, a "champagne fanatic," says "to drink this as a toast would be offensive; this is dinner wine." Pair it with salmon, tuna, duck or pork—"it's very versatile" and "better than many French champagnes."
2005 Morgan Monterey Metallico Chardonnay: Citriglia calls this "a good opening wine" for drinkers who want something more than "oak juice." Aged in stainless steel, it has a creamy mid-palate that "relies on the flavor of the fruit." Serve it during cocktails or with lobster, scallops—even beef filet. 2004 Weingut Robert Weil Estate Dry Riesling: This "bone dry" wine pairs well with Thai, Spanish and Mexican dishes. "Anyone who serves Riesling will look like a trend setter," says Citriglia, citing the wine's surging recognition. 2004 Jermann Pinot Grigio: Its "drinkability" makes it ideal for large events. While Citriglia cautions that "most is flavorless swill," Jermann is an "exceptional producer." Enjoy the wine's complex, layered flavors with delicate fishes and lemony dishes. 2005 Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc: Guests won't tire of sipping this New Zealand-made vintage, which has "bright citrus and kiwi flavor and less obnoxious herbiness." It's perfect with "hard-to-match dishes" from artichokes to herb-encrusted lamb.
2004 Laurel Glen Terra Rosa Malbec: Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz lovers will enjoy this "powerful" Argentinean wine. "It drinks well on its own," says Citriglia, who also recommends it with lamb, bison, New York strip or barbecue. 2003 Joseph Drouhin Véro Pinot Noir: Unlike overly potent American-made versions, Citriglia calls this "a precision Pinot Noir that screams of the grape." Pair it with salmon, tuna, turkey, duck and game dishes. 2003 Lafite Catena Caro Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec: "This is the best that Argentina has to offer," says Citriglia of this "steak and potatoes wine"—a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. "Impeccably balanced," it should be decanted a half hour before serving. 2003 Terrabianca Campaccio: Serving pasta? Consider this "completely different" blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet grapes that yield a red with "flavor, body and intensity." Citriglia assures it will "appeal to a wide variety of people."
Dow's 2000 Late Bottled Vintage Port: Citriglia calls this approachable, ruby port "one of the best chocolate wines." Ramos Pinto Quinta De Ervamoira Tawny Port 10 Years: On a hot day, this "softer, less tannic" tawny port, which can be served chilled, is a suitable accompaniment for everything from Stilton cheese to honey-flavored and nutty desserts. Mer Soleil 2002 Late: When Viognier grapes hang late on the vine, this rare and "very unctuous style of dessert wine" that is "lower in alcohol than ports" is created. Chilled and paired with sweet fruits, it is "exceptional for summer." Citriglia muses, "It's like eating honeysuckle flowers and beeswax." Ramos Pinto Tawny 10 Years: This dense, richly textured port has "layers and layers of complex flavors that linger in the mouth," says Citriglia. This is a single-vineyard port that plants the vines vertically down a hill allowing for higher density planting and less fruit per vine. 2002 Villa La Selva Vigna del Papa Vin Santo: A dry wine with the aroma of figs and apricots, this "wine of the Pope" is part of traditional Italian ceremonies. It must be served with biscotti for dipping. Andrew Rich Vintner Gewurztraminer: Gewurztraminer is "a hedonistic grape," and when it's frozen post-harvest, the resulting ice wine is sweet and pungent. Serve this "easier drinking dessert wine" with gingerbread cookies.