the Wedding issue

why someone would ever spend that much money. If all goes well, you’re only going to get married once. So there might be no better occasion in your life to find out what’s in that wildly expensive bottle of champagne. And if you’re going to do it, do it right. Go for the Dom Pérignon. Be warned, however: If you open a bottle of Dom — especially a vintage Dom (i.e., a champagne made from a single year’s growth) — you are more likely to annually celebrate the wine you had than the wedding that prompted it. You probably won’t want to buy the amount of Dom Pérignon you’d need to serve every person attending the reception (though if you do, please invite me to your wedding — I’ll even stick around a little longer than the cake-cutting). Options for the room (but that are suitable also for the bride and groom) include Perrier-Jouët and Piper-Heidsieck. The first, Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut, is noted for being floral on the nose and warm and round on the palate, and it pairs well with wedding cake. Piper-Heidsieck, the second of our hyphenated choices, is also a proper champagne — as French as the Eiffel Tower, despite a name that’s anything but. You can expect its bubbles to bring almond and hazelnut notes to your nose, and apple and pear to your palate. It is a balanced bubbly that should prove accessible to novice and wino — that is, er, wine connoisseur — alike.

While all champagnes are sparkling wines, not all sparkling wines are champagne. To be labeled champagne, a sparkling wine has to be made in the Champagne region of France using the approved grape varieties grown and vinified there: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or Chardonnay. Regulations govern everything from the training and pruning of vines to the production of the sparkling wine, known as méthode champenoise . The traditional French process involves adding more yeast and sugar to a base wine, then bottling the wine for a second fermentation. This secondary fermentation gives bubbly wine its trademark fizz.​

Later in the day, when hair and makeup are being done, the wine can continue to flow.The last few years have seen a democratization of sparkling wine; while still center stage for formal affairs, it has become a go-to choice for casual imbibing also. No trend better reflects a relaxed relationship than the addition of a drinking straw, or sipping it straight from the bottle. Sparkling wine comes not only in the traditional 750 ml bottle, but also in 375 ml “half ” bottles, and quarter-bottles called “splits.” While drinking straws really only work with splits, don’t let convention stop you from drinking directly from a standard-sized bottle. Once the families and friends have gathered, and the bride and groom have swapped rings and promised to keep their thing going ’til death them do part, and tears have been shed, and everyone has moved on to the reception, with each attendee quietly vowing, “We’re just staying until the cake” — it is time to make your next big, sparkling move. With the cake comes the toast. In terms of the sheer number of photographs that will result, the toast will be second only to “You may kiss the bride.” Make the wine you are drinking — the wine that will be so well documented — count. Champagne is for showing off. If the most adventurous wine you’ve ever tried has a kangaroo or footprint on the bottle — and there’s nothing wrong with that, but this is a wedding! — you probably eye on occasion the 50- or 80- or 200-dollar bottle of wine and wonder

For the bride and groom, the day will have ended as fast as it arrived. For guests that have been well wined, the same should be true, with new friends made and suggestions swapped on how to deal with tomorrow’s hangover. The whole point of the ceremony is, after all, the union of families, the bringing together of friends, to witness your special day. And if you take nothing else away from this, take this: Your wedding wine matters; make it part of the festivities and use it to excite and elevate. Leave it only to your caterers, and you’re likely to have guests served from a pair of two-handled jugs, one labeled “white” and the other, “red.” You wouldn’t go to a seamstress and ask for “a white one — just the standard wedding dress, sequins or something — take my measurements and I’ll be back next month.” You wouldn’t pop into the bakery and just ask for “a wedding cake — whatever, three tiers, a little bride and groom on top, and I’ll be back for it Thursday.”A fine wine is as crafted and labored over as the most elegant dress or cake, and as fragrant and inviting as the most precise and exquisite floral arrangement. And unlike the dress, which you will likely never wear again, you can revisit the wine again and again. Give it the attention it deserves, and it will return to you a lifetime of memories.




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