Seeing as there seems to have been some wedding chat recently, I’m trying to keep my column vaguely topical and give some advice. Everyone and their mother has some advice for you in some form or another when you are getting married.

The most exciting day of your life is nearly upon you. The stress levels are starting to mount. The bank balance is starting to diminish. The problem being that you are hopefully only ever going to do this once and the people giving advice to you have also only done it once, which hardly makes them experts. Where do you start? Sadly, not everyone has an army of servants to sort stuff out for you.

The easiest choice for anyone organising a wedding is to book a hotel and get them to sort your food and wine options for you. There is so much to organise that this takes a load off your mind and simplifies things considerably. Everything is done for you and the hotel will probably give some reasonable advice to suit your budget. This is a bit like taking a package holiday where everything is sorted for you and the bumps in the road will be smoothed out.

As a wine merchant, wedding wine supply is a big part of my business so I am going to argue in another direction! If you pick a venue that you can take your own wines and caterer to, then your choice goes through the roof and more money will stay in your pocket. The problem with taking the “wedding package” in a hotel is that it is indeed a “package”. There is much less flexibility in what they can offer. If the hotel is part of a chain then you a pretty much guaranteed to get bland wines allied to pretty bland food at over the odds prices. I don’t mean to sound negative about their offerings but, I’m sure you can do better with a little effort!

There are loads of venues all over Scotland that enable you to take your own wine to your wedding. Not only will you save a small fortune you will get wines that you like and you will have far more control over the whole experience. Your caterer of choice will be there to chill, serve and do the necessaries. It isn’t only the recent Royal wedding that broke with tradition by serving a buffet. I have been to a recent wedding where the bride and groom both loved curry. The food on offer at their reception was a fantastic array of spicy food in buffet format. There was craft beer on offer but equally the Aussie Shiraz I had supplied them with was great with the curries. Spice with fruity, rich Shiraz made for a great evening.

I always start my conversation with prospective clients by asking what kind of food they are looking to serve and how. One has to be mindful of so many things, the food, time of year, the mix of guests etc etc. Each wedding is a unique event and should be treated as such. You should, in an ideal world, do a food tasting, a wine tasting, and preferably a combo tasting. One can never do too much wine and food tasting in my humble opinion! Please seek some advice from experienced professionals. I am available and definitely have an opinion to offer, although other wine merchants are available…

I’m going to throw one final point into the pot to stew over, and that is when should you start your preparations? It is oft said that you can never start too early. I’m afraid to say that statement is not really correct when it comes to choosing your wines. For example, Prosecco has quite a short shelf life. Once it is in bottle it starts to lose its’ fruity character. It starts to degrade quite quickly and within 6 months it loses its fresh, appealing character and becomes quite bland. Champagne on the other hand improves in bottle and is generally best a year or 2 after purchase (if it isn’t a dodgily cheap one). So, depending on which wine you chose, the wine might get better after your tasting, or worse, so don’t necessarily do your tasting too far in advance!

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