What are You Drinking?
What are You Drinking?
Alcohol will be one of the largest line items on your reception budget. What you serve – or don’t serve – is totally your call. You can offer a full bar or limit choices to beer and wine or a few select spirits. It’s your party…it’s your choice.
Choosing wine and spirits for your wedding doesn´t have to be an overwhelming task. With the right information in hand you will be able to select the best options for both you and your guests. Below is a brief guide that will help you get started on the path to knowledge in the world of wine and spirits.
Types of Wines
Red, White or Bubbly? Wine can be intimidating, but upping your wine IQ will increase your appreciation. Exploring wine should be fun, so try taking a wine course, join a wine club or visit your local wine shop when they offer free tastings. To get you started, here is a handy guide to wine.
- Red Wine. Red wine is made from red grapes fermented with skins and seeds for rich color. Different grapes are used to produce distinctive reds around the world including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Grenache, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah/Shiraz, Tempranillo, and Zinfandel. Red wines can range from austere, complex Bordeaux to fruity Pinot Noir to robust, spicy Shiraz. Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of the red grapes, famed for its powerful and complex flavors and aging potential, while other grapes like Merlot, Sangiovese and Gamay are used to produce lighter wines for everyday drinking. Red wines pair well with rich foods from red meat to game to strong cheeses, but can also be matched with tuna, pork and chicken depending on the menu. And here’s to your health, research indicates that a glass of red wine a day is actually beneficial
- Rosé or Blush Wine. Rosé or blush wine is not a mix of red and white; it is actually produced from red grapes, but instead of fermenting the wine with skin and seeds, the juice is separated off once it reaches a pale pink color. Despite its cloying reputation, pink wine is not all bad. European rosés are often produced from the Grenache grape and can be deliciously fragrant and refreshing. California blush wines are mostly made from Zinfandel grapes, and sometimes have a touch of sweetness. Well-chilled rosé or blush wines are terrific with light fare and for casual occasions like a clambake, fish fry or barbecue on a hot summer night
- White Wine. Surprisingly, white wine can be made from white or red grapes since all grape juice is colorless. White wine styles range from crisp and dry to sweet and fruity; and are always served chilled. Popular dry, whites include Muscadet from France and Pinot Grigio from Italy. For a refreshing, tangy option, try Sauvignon Blanc from France, California or the Pacific Northwest. Bold whites with a complex bouquet include oaky Chardonnay, luscious Riesling and spicy Gewürztraminer. Pair white wines with light, delicate chicken, seafood or pasta dishes. Full-bodied Chardonnay can be matched with richer dishes like pork, lobster and turkey. Riesling and Gewürztraminer pairs perfectly with spicy ethnic cuisines like Chinese, Thai and Indian
- Sparkling Wine. Unlike soda, which is carbonated, good sparkling wine comes by its bubbles naturally. A yeast and sugar solution is added to dry table wine to create sparkling wines. Then the wine is sealed for secondary fermentation––next thing you know, you’re popping the cork. Genuine Champagne, produced only in the Champagne region of France, is the gold standard for sparkling wine, but other areas like Spain, Italy and California are now making high quality sparkling wines as well. Well-chilled sparkling wine is a must at any celebration and pairs beautifully with party foods such as caviar, raw oysters and other shellfish as well as goat or triple-cream cheeses. It is often served with desserts as well. But don’t wait for a special occasion to serve sparkling wine, an inexpensive bottle adds a festive air to any gathering
Get in the Spirit
Fine spirits are the basis for classic cocktails and mixed drinks, but what exactly are they? Technically speaking, spirits are distilled alcohol, made by heating a fermented liquid, evaporating off the alcohol as vapor, and then condensing it back into liquid form. Distilled from grain, fruit, corn and even potatoes, spirits come in a vast array of flavors. Whether you´re just discovering spirits or want to expand your horizons, here’s a simple overview of different styles and tastes in the wide world of spirits
- Vodka. Russia with love, this white (clear) spirit is distilled from a fermented mash of grain, potatoes, beets or molasses. With cool flavored vodkas and hip, new Martinis, no wonder this versatile spirit is America’s favorite.
- Gin. A white spirit distilled from grain, usually wheat or rye, and flavored with juniper berries and other aromatic herbs and spices. Most popular in the 50’s, gin, the traditional main ingredient in a Martini, is regaining popularity with a new generation of sophisticated cocktail drinkers.
- Rum. A white or amber spirit, depending on aging, rum is distilled from molasses, sugar cane juice and water. Originating in the Caribbean, rum comes in several styles: light, dark, spiced and aged. Beyond the simple Rum and Coke, rum gives tropical drinks like Mojitos, Zombies and Piña Coladas a kick.
- Tequila. A Mexican spirit distilled from the fermented juice of the agave plant, tequila has an amber color and distinctive flavor. Enjoy tequila in a Margarita or Tequila Sunrise and, of course, as a straight shot with lime and salt. Olé!
- Scotch. An amber spirit made from malted barley and aged in oak barrels. There are two main varieties of scotch, single-malt and blended. Scotch has a smooth mellow flavor best appreciated on its own, either ‘on the rocks’ or mixed with soda or water.
- Whiskey. An amber spirit made from a grain mash containing corn, rye, wheat, or barley. Whiskey is fermented in barrels to give it a golden color and smoky taste. There are many varieties including: Bourbon, Tennesee, Rye, Irish and Canadian. Whiskey is the basis of classic cocktails such as the Whiskey Sour and the Manhattan, but can also be mixed with soda or drunk as a shot.
Discovering wine and spirits can be lots of fun, but remember to drink responsibly.