In addition to bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolates, I am sure there were more than a few marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day. With all those proposals, it’s only natural to assume that there will eventually be weddings, ergo, wedding receptions.
So I consider it no coincidence that a couple of days ago, a friend of mine sent me an email asking me for some wine recommendations for his own daughter’s upcoming wedding. His email explained that he needed a few reasonably priced red and white wines for the wedding reception.
Of course, my first question was, “define ‘reasonably priced.’” My second question was, “Are you having ‘wine people’ over or just people who like wine?”
He explained that most of the guests would be a mix of wine drinkers and wine lovers. While he wants to make sure his guests are happy, he’d still like to keep his cost under $20 a bottle. Challenge accepted.
With a little research and a lot of tasting notes, I came up with a few wines that I wouldn’t mind having in my own glass if I am lucky enough to get invited to a shindig or two this year.
Sparkling wines are a great way to get guests into a festive mood. The nonvintage Gruet Brut sparkling wine from New Mexico — yes, New Mexico — is a fun and inexpensive way to get the party started. It’s full-bodied and flavorful with mouth-filling bubbly layers of bold, fresh stone-fruit flavors accented by green apple and citrus notes. The vivid acidity leads the way on the crisp finish, keeping the palate clean and fresh. At $16 a bottle, it’s also easy on the budget.
The 2017 Villa Marchesi Pinot Grigio from Friuli, Italy, is a very versatile white wine, perfect for large groups or smaller gatherings. Made from grapes grown in the Fruili Venezia Giulia region, it sports aromas of passion fruit and fragrant white flower. Flavors of pear, nectarine and crisp citrus fruit are refreshing and focused on the medium-bodied, well-balanced frame. Serve this wine well-chilled. $12
Personally, I enjoy my “reception reds” to be on the lighter side. Pinot noir is just the right variety for the job and the 2016 Erath Pinot Noir from Oregon is both budget-friendly and a crowd-pleaser. It shows off vibrant aromas of black cherries, spices and vanilla on the fragrant nose. Memorable notes of nutmeg combine with ripe flavors of strawberries and cherries and mineral overtones. The mouth feel is soft, round and juicy, with an impression of ripe, red fruit. The finish is long, with hints of baking spices, vanilla and sweet tannins, all balanced by abundant acidity. If your reception is outside, serve this wine slightly chilled. $15
And for those guests who just can’t live without a big, powerful red wine to get them through the evening, the 2016 Ravage Red Wine Blend is made for them. Aged in new French oak, it’s a robust, flavorful Californian red blend of 52 percent cabernet sauvignon, 34 percent merlot, 11 percent Petite Syrah, and 3 percent “other red” varietals. The wine feels expansive and round in the mouth where layers of black plum, dark cherry, black currant and earthy notes integrate with soft tannins to provide a graceful and lengthy finish, making it a perfect pairing for everything from spicy finger food to main course filet mignon. And the price can be our little secret. $10
Hint: when buying wine from a retailer, make sure that they will take back unopened cases or bottles of wine. That way, you won’t worry about having enough wine on hand.