Wine: what to drink at a summer wedding

One question I often get asked is what wine to drink for a wedding. Champagne, and lots of it, might be the first response that comes to mind, but what if the budget won't stretch to that?

An obvious suggestion is to drink a favourite wine or a bottle that means something to you – one from a country or region where you first holidayed together, say, or a winery (or brewery; beer and cider deserve a place at weddings, too) near where one or other of you grew up.

If nothing fits into that category, go for something that will appeal to the greatest number of people who could – and probably will – range in age from 18 to 80. That is, nothing too acidic in the case of whites, and not too heavily oaked a red. Many wine retailers offer a wedding service that lets you try before you buy, though, given the recent duty rises, it may well be worth driving over to France to pick up the stuff yourself. Both Majestic and the Wine Society have French outlets.

The kind of wine I'd be looking at for a summer wedding would be the Côtes de Duras Blanc, Château La Grave Béchade 2011 (£6.95, The Wine Society, or €71 for 12 bottles at the French outlet, a £22 per-dozen saving; 13% abv), a pretty, almost elderflowery sauvignon blanc that drinks well on its own or with seafood. And, for a crowdpleasing choice of red, Château Jouaninel Fronton 2009, which is a soft, fruity, bordeaux-like red from south-west France (£6.99 if you buy two or more from Majestic, though it's not available at the French store); it's only 12.5% abv, too, which may help to prevent your more embarrassing relatives from getting hammered.

If you're getting married around the jubilee, there should be plenty of cut-price English bubbly to choose from. Aldi has the refreshingly crisp Three Choirs Classic Cuvée Brut (12% abv) on offer at £10.99 from 17 May; or, for something more left-field, try Ferrari Maximum, an elegant metodo classico sparkler from northern Italy (£20 Bat & Bottle, Oakham, Leicestershire; £22.50 – or £18 by the case – Great Western Wine, Bath; £22.95 Valvona & Crolla; 12.5% abv). No connection with the car firm – apart from the name – but it looks the part and tastes a great deal nicer than most cheap champagne.

How much should you order? It all depends on what time of day the wedding takes place and how long it's due to last. There's a nifty calculator on realsimple.com, to help you work it out.

For more recommendations, visit Fiona's website, matchingfoodandwine.com

Photographs: Full Stop Photography

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