Tags: Norfolk

Crack open the bubbly

14 Jul 2011

Crack open the bubbly

Choosing the right wine, and the right amount, for a wedding is a must. Wine expert Vernon Banham, who has been buyer for Bakers and Larners of Holt for more than 20 years, has some tips and ideas for the big day.

Don’t make wine the poor relation to the food. Making sure each compliments the other will bring out the best of both. “If I have an idea of the menu for the day I can help the couple choose the wine that will go well with the courses.” But don’t feel it means steering clear of bubbles, as sparkling rose can be a great accompaniment to food and looks really special too. But keep it simple. “Don’t get bogged down with the choices, there are plenty of wines that will last through the courses.”

Have an idea of how much you want to spend, and try a few wines within that to see which you prefer. Vernon finds many go for a slightly more expensive option, though, once they have tasted the difference so he advises people to be open-minded about their choice. And save the best till last. It’s better to keep the nicest wine for the toast rather than starting on a high and working down.

He can give a good idea of how much wine will be needed, depending on the style of the occasion, but said a good guide is half a bottle per head with a little bit extra for good measure. Most outlets, including Bakers, will operate a sale or return service, so it’s better to have a bit more if you are not sure how much people will drink. It can then be taken back.

Check out if venues charge for corkage and how much per bottle. “You could always go for a Nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles) of fizz or red to cut that down,” joked Vernon.

Cut down on air miles by going for English sparkling wine. “It’s a high quality because of similar temperature here to the Champagne region of France. It even won an award at a Champagne show in France recently,” said Vernon.

Stay safe and make sure you have transport home organised if you are drinking. Alternatively, a non-alcoholic punch is great for the non-drinkers. “It’s a bit more celebratory than just providing water,” said Vernon. Try missing elderflower presse with a good-quality apple juice and decorate with slices of lemon.

Mulled wine can provide a warming alternative as a welcome drink, particularly for a winter wedding. Vernon also has recipes to make a change from offering straight fizz or Pimms when people arrive at the reception. Try and Champagne and peach punch mixing sparking wine or Champagne with crème de peche and include whole peaches to serve. Decorate with white rose petals to make it extra special. Or you could go for an English summer punch, using English sparkling wine such as Duchy Originals combined with strawberry liqueur and served in a punch bowl with mint leaves. A cranberry and wine spritzer also makes a summery alternative, with Pinot Grigio mixed with cranberry and raspberry juice.

A standard-sized bottle of fizz will provide six flutes. Allow about 2/3 glasses per person for a toast, so for 100 guests, that’s about 34 plus bottles.

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