Hannah Brown and her fiancé, Andy Putch, have been busy collecting inspiration for their upcoming wedding in Provence, France. But it’s not all Pinterest boards and bridal magazines.
“When we’re at a restaurant with a sommelier, we always ask for their favorite vineyard recommendations in France,” says Brown, who works in marketing in New York City.
Showcasing Provençal wines is a priority for the couple. Their wedding was scheduled originally for May 2021, but the pandemic postponed the festivities until next year. The guest list will be small and the event outdoors, but “we always planned to go all out on food and wine,” says Brown.
Brown’s appreciation for wine and her desire to be a generous host comes from her father. Growing up in Belgium, he would take the family on spontaneous road trips to discover new wine regions.
“He would load up the trunk with cases of wine and, back at home, fill up shelves and shelves of Ikea wine racks in our basement,” she says. “He loved a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a Brunello di Montalcino, a Tignanello, big, bold reds. If he were here today, he would commandeer the wine list for my wedding.”
In his absence, Brown feels connected to him as she selects the wines that she hopes will delight guests.
“It’s important to create an experience for our guests that has a real sense of place,” she says.
The postponement gave the couple more time to research. They’ve discovered new-to-them wines at bars and restaurants like Bibber & Bell and Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in New York City, Allison Bart’s Downstate Wine Club, and Sawyer’s in Southwest Harbor, Maine.
Once they finalize the dinner menu, they plan to taste bottlings from Domaine de la Citadelle, Château Lacoste, Château d’Estoublon and others from Provence and nearby regions.
“Going into it, we’re thinking two reds, two whites and a rosé,” says Brown. “But we’ll have to wait and see what we really love. It could change, depending on what we discover. We love funky reds, minerally whites.”
As Covid-19 vaccinations become more available, couples can again plan for their big day, in some cases after months of delays. Sommeliers have noticed a change in perceptions of what’s considered a “traditional” wedding wine.
“I am seeing a real interest in wines that have some residual sugar,” says Mark Cartland, wine director at Island Vintage Wine Bar in Honolulu. “This represents a seismic shift from the days where couples only wanted dry wines for their guests. It is now not uncommon to have a request for a German Riesling or Italian Moscato d’Asti to be included in the lineup.”
Couples also capitalize on the growing ubiquity of canned wines, which can offer a more convenient, cost-effective option.
“I’ve noticed couples are leaning toward affordable quality, lots of natural wines and more unique offerings,” says Kristin Olszewski, wine director at Gigi’s in Los Angeles. She’s also the founder of Nomadica, a canned wine brand. She believes couples are choosing canned wines for weddings because they tend to have “universally appealing flavor profiles.”
“The last year showed us that we shouldn’t take anything for granted and that every moment, especially a wedding, is cause for celebration.” —Katie Collopy
While the landscape of wedding wines continues to evolve, certain classics remain as popular as ever. Sparkling wines continue to be a trusty go-to, which influenced famed fashion designer Vera Wang to enter the category.
Wang, known for her glamorous bridal gowns, last month launched Party, a premium Italian Prosecco served in a sleek silver bottle and outfitted in bold, neon-green lettering.
“Prosecco is not only about weddings,” said Wang at a press event in June. “It’s about celebrating life, not simply milestones, but every day. That’s one of the grounding points I wanted to connect with people on.”
Katie Collopy can relate to that sentiment. A publicist in New York City, she’s planning her wedding next July in Northern California.
“The last year showed us that we shouldn’t take anything for granted and that every moment, especially a wedding, is cause for celebration,” says Collopy. “We definitely want to go all out on the things that are important to us: food, wine, etc.
“That being said, the last year was hard for a lot of people, and I think doing anything too ostentatious would be a bit distasteful.”
Collopy and her fiancé, Taber Brown, have studied wine. A couple years ago, they even attempted to craft their own vintage.
“From our tiny NYC apartment,” says Collopy. “It didn’t go well, but we had fun nonetheless.”
They won’t be making a second vintage attempt for their wedding. Instead, it’s all about finding the right combination of traditional and unconventional for their wedding wines—whatever that looks like.
“Our Champagne toast will be with Krug, the wine with which we celebrated our engagement,” says Collopy. “I’d love a fun mix of smaller producers that Taber and I enjoy, as well as some crowd pleasers for other guests. While wine won’t be the most important element of our wedding, it definitely is essential to curating the whole experience.”