by Caroline Lowings, Wine Diva
“Pardon me sir, are you done with that?” I asked the guy sitting across the table from me, at a wedding reception. He was hoarding the bottle of Verve Cliquot, which had been passed around, and ended up staying firmly in his clutches. With only one bottle allocated to each table, for toasting purposes during the run of speeches from the usual suspects, I was determined to get my lips on a few more drops. As I was trying to coax the bottle of good stuff away from the Cliquot squirrel, I was trying to do the maths to estimate how much it must have cost the generous drinks patron for the Champagne and corkage, in addition to the open bar tab. I speculated that most of the guests would not remember, or fail to appreciate, the few extravagant mouthfuls of bubbly, and I had to wonder if the indulgence of French Champagne is really worth it for large scale celebrations, such as weddings.
There are some things that a bride just cannot do without on her wedding day, vintage Champagne in large quantities is probably not one of them. Of course, if you are keeping up with the Oppenheimers, and have a Rolls Royce parked in the garage, then by all means splurge. Vintage Champagne is still the world’s number one party trick and the obvious choice for intimate special occasions, such as romantic anniversary dinners for two, or to quench the hot honeymoon nights. But on a wedding budget with a large crowd of toasters to satiate and many other expenses to consider, then may I offer you a hand in shelving the fantasy of your guests clinking flutes of Dom Perignon, while admiring your Vera Wang wedding gown, and go for something more economical.
On the other hand, this is your wedding day and cause for celebration. Therefore it is best to stay away from the cheap and cheerful sparkling wines that have been carbonated by means of cylinders pumping carbon dioxide into tanks of wine. These inexpensive “spumantes” have large bubbles, aggressive effervescence like fizzy cool drinks and are usually distastefully sweet or nastily acidic. This is probably not the way to cheers your blessed union.
So to keep things in elegant moderation, I would suggest going for any number of excellent South African sparkling wines produced in the Methode Cap Classique, or MCC. Methode Cap Classique is the South African term for “made just like Champagne” and can ooze characteristics of the real French deal. Quality can vary from cellar to cellar, but the amount of effort that it takes to produce a MCC sparkling wine is usually a guarantee in itself. A quality MCC sparkler is blended from premium grapes of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and to a lesser extent Pinot Meunier, varieties as with Champagne. These sparklers are usually zesty and crisp with baked bread, biscuit, creamy and nutty flavours. The tiny and continual bubbles appear weaved into the very essence of the wine and will never give the impression of being wine plus gas, such as the cheaper carbonated bubblies described earlier.
Popular and well-rated Methode Cap Classiques can retail between R60 – R100 per bottle. So when planning your wedding, sit down with the person taking care of the drinks tab and decide how much you are able to spend on sparkling wine and how many bottles you’ll need. You can probably budget on 8 tasting servings per bottle for toasting during speeches.
It makes no sense to me to blow the budget on French champagne with so many exquisite and affordable South African Cap Classiques available to accompany your “I do’s”.
If you need assistance planning your wedding or event wine list, or want to arrange a wine and chocolate tasting for a bridal shower, please contact Caroline by following the link alongside.