Grapevine Archive for The Wine Society Wedding & Gift List Service

Edit: The below was written with, among other things, The Society’s Wedding & Gift List service in mind. Though The Society will continue to honour existing Gift Lists, members can no longer request to set up their own Gift Lists.

Those planning weddings or civil partnerships this summer or beyond may be experiencing a few headaches at the moment. While organising any celebration can be taxing, we believe that choosing the right wines should be an enjoyable experience.

Gill Wise has written for Society Grapevine recently about The Wine Society’s Wedding & Gift List Service, which aims to take the hassle out of choosing presents for members’ weddings, birthdays and other celebrations.

Here, The Society’s six Buyers offer their expert advice, suggesting reliable choices to pour on the day itself, wines you may enjoy adding to your gift list and, where applicable, the benefits of ageing them (members may store their Gift List wines in Members’ Reserves free of charge for a year). Watch this space for more advice regarding suggested quantities and other relevant services offered by The Society.

Marcel Orford-Williams

The Wedding
From experience there are two important things to consider about weddings.
First: the wedding itself is what it is all about. So nobody will expect fine dining with wines to match. Unless of course the guests all happen to be gourmet chefs and wine merchants!

Second: cost
Reception venues are often tied to caterers who in my experience will always offer the most dismal of choices. I can’t begin to enumerate the times when I ended up tipping a glass discreetly into a flower bed. It is often a much better idea to negotiate corkage and bring your own and it will often be cheaper as well.

Choose a banker which you know most people will enjoy. I got married to The Society’s Riesling which was perfect and refreshing. Alternatives would include The Society’s White Burgundy or Society’s Chilean Chardonnay. My red was The Society’s Claret, which ticked the boxes.

For when the guests arrive, refreshment is the imperative. I did Crémant de Loire as a clean refreshing sparkler or Mosel Riesling for those who cared little for fizz. There was also a bottle or two of The Society’s Fino on ice, but that was mostly for me as I was going through a serious Fino stage at that time.

We had a triple layered cake of which I made the top two and my then sister-in-law in waiting, the larger bottom tier. A bottle of 15 Year Old Cognac was used one way or the other in the preparation of these cakes to very good effect. The top layer eventually served as my eldest son’s christening cake eight years later.

Champagne is obviously not indispensable but nearly so, especially when it comes to the toasts. What it should be is a matter of taste and cost, suffice to say that there is plenty of good festive Champagne at around £20 a bottle. Larger sizes are fun but more difficult to handle by less experienced staff. Chilling is essential as wines warm up very quickly in the glass.

The Gift List

Inevitably I give wine as my wedding gift and usually I give two bottles, one for drinking early and one for the 10th anniversary. One of my favourite bottles to give is Domaine de Perdiguier, preferably in magnum. This is a very stylish cabernet-merlot blend from Languedoc, well-presented and relatively inexpensive. The other might be a Claret or a Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Rhône Valley and from one of the top estates, a wine which inevitably keeps well and has a festive feel about it.

Toby Morrhall

The Wedding

Domaine Mallory et Benjamin Talmard’s Mâcon-Villages offers good value for money, is not too austere, and can be enjoyed as an aperitif or with food.
Chilean sauvignon blanc is fruitier than Loire sauvignon and without the residual sugar of NZ. These are perfect crowd pleasers; as Sebastian (Payne MW) said, these are the wine equivalent of G&T. I list a couple at different prices:
The Society’s Chilean Sauvignon Blanc
Tabalí Caliza Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

For reasonably priced White Burgundy for the meal:
St Véran En Crêches, Domaine Nathalie et Jacques Saumaize
The Society’s Exhibition Chablis Premier Cru

Chilean merlots are soft and smooth all rounders, such as
The Society’s Chilean Merlot
Lascar Merlot
El Polilla Merlot

As is Argentine Malbec, especially
The Society’s
Faldeos Nevados Malbec

For food, classy wine that does not cost the earth, such as Marqués de Casa Concha Puente Alto Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Gift List

Bordeaux and Rhône are really the red classics. Burgundy you have to know it to enjoy it, so I wouldn’t suggest Burgundy to someone who doesn’t already like it. With age, Burgundy starts smelling of red cherries and develops gamey aromas and what the French call “sous bois”, literally “under the wood” – it’s the earthy smells you get when walking in a wood in autumn: leaf mould, bracken, ferns, mushrooms, truffles, smoke of a distant bonfire, etc. The tannins soften and the palate becomes smoother and silkier.

Mark Buckenham

The Wedding

From the wine advice given and taken by members so far this year/last year I would suggest amongst the favourites are:

Sparkling wine:
The Society’s Celebration Crémant de Loire 2008 – celebration in the name
Ridgeview Bloomsbury 2008 – go English
The Society’s Champagne Brut – best ever

White wine:
The Society’s White Burgundy – hard to beat at this price, crowd pleaser
Mâcon-Villages Domaine Mallory et Benjamin Talmard 2009 – everybody loves it
Cheverny 2009 Dme du Salvard Delaille – crisp sauvignon with touch of chardonnay to temper it
Midsummer Hill 2009 – go go England, be patriotic. Nettley & fresh
The Society’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2010 – crisp, they love it.

Red wine:
The Society’s Beaujolais-Villages – sweetness of gamay appeals to all
Beaujolais-Villages Château de Lacarelle 2009 – even better than above
The Society’s Rioja Crianza – hard not to enjoy, not over oaky
Navajas Crianza Rioja 2007 – best under £10 available in the range right now

The Gift List

For the Gift List, I’d suggest the Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira 2004 Port (£29). Drinks from 2020-2030. From a quinta owned and run by Symington group and on really good form with this vintage. Beautifully floral, with hints of eucalyptus and mint. On the palate, super-concentrated fleshy layers of brambly fruit showing through appealing nuances of chocolate; all held together by fine peppery tannins.

The 2004 vintage could be when the happy couple first met/got engaged? If not then find a vintage when they did! Ideal if buying six bottles as gift, as this is supplied packed in a six-bottle varnished oak presentation case containing a specially designed corkscrew based on a 19th-century pattern. Wow!

Sebastian Payne MW

The Wedding

I was married in 1973, when my father in law provided a generous amount of Champagne. Weddings tended to be shorter affairs then than they are now. My daughter married the year before last, which was a longer occasion, and we served The Society’s Champagne, White Burgundy and Rioja. There wasn’t a single bottle left.

The Gift List

Members can use online vouchers from their Gift Lists towards en primeur wines. It remains the best and cheapest way to purchase fine wines, as the wines often won’t be available again afterwards. Perfect for this year would have been a case of 2009 Rhône wines.

The Society’s Opening Offers always cover a spread of price points, and we’ll tell you how the wines are coming along.

Joanna Locke MW

The Wedding

All rounders are essential in my view, though one can still make a decision based on the food being served, or not. It also depends on budget of course.

My lower/mid price range, without knowing the menu, would include:

Sparkling wine:
The Society’s Celebration Crémant de Loire, 2008

The Society’s White Burgundy
Pinot Gris Tradition Dry, Cave de Turckheim, 2008
(an earlier vintage worked for us!)
Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine Félines-Jourdan, 2009
Monte Velho Branco, Alentejo, 2009
Villiera Estate Chenin Blanc, 2010

The Society’s Beaujolais-Villages
Beaujolais-Villages, Ch de Lacarelle, 2009
Côtes-du-Rhône, Domaine Jaume, 2007
The Society’s Corbières
Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Ch de Pena, 2008
(we went Southern French for our red and it was great with the hog roast and Mediterranean flavoured buffet.)
Cahors, Clos la Coutale, 2008
Monte Velho Tinto, 2009
Malumbres, Tinto, Navarra, 2008

My more premium range, again not knowing food, would be:
The Society’s Champagne, Brut
Jules Camuset, Non-Vintage, Brut
Ch Pey La Tour Réserve, 2007, Bordeaux
The Society’s Exhibition Margaux, 2004
The Society’s Exhibition Savigny-lès-Beaune, Nicolas Potel, 2005
Beaujolais-Villages, Ch de Thulon, 2009
The Society’s Exhibition Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2007
Viña Amézola Crianza, Rioja, 2005
La Rioja Alta, Viña Arana Reserva, Rioja, 2001
The Society’s Exhibition Martinborough Pinot Noir, 2009

The Gift List

The Society’s Exhibition Margaux, 2004 – the second wine from a beautiful property we visit every year; holds its own against many grander names, will keep, but is already lovely to drink now.

The Society’s Exhibition Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2007 – proper stuff from a top vintage: hedonistic, rich & opulent and gorgeous now, but absolutely no hurry.

Ch Prieuré-Lichine, 2001, Margaux – elegant, rewarding, and these days still very good value Claret which has done consistently well in our blind tastings over the last few years.

Ridge Lytton Springs, 2008 – a tasting tutored by Paul Draper at Lytton Springs remains one of the highlights of my life in wine. His wines are complex, fine, ageworthy examples, very European in their structure and balance.

Magnum of The Society’s Exhibition Blanc de Blancs Champagne – though ready to drink, in magnum this very lovely fizz will keep for your first really special occasion when one bottle just won’t do.

Pierre Mansour

The Wedding

A good wedding wine (or party wine) should combine usability (crowd pleasing), authenticity (reflect its style precisely) and value. So, New Zealand sauvignon usually works well, and currently whites that are not too oaky (as fashion seems to be for crisp, fruity unoaked styles). Soft, smooth reds like Rioja, Australian shiraz, mature Claret.

For the record, at my wedding three years ago we had The Society’s Champagne, Talmard Mâcon and Muga Reserva for the meal, then the party in the evening more Society Champagne plus Marlborough Sauvignon and Navajas Rioja.

The Gift List

Muga Prado Enea 2001: a top vintage from a top producer. So good it tastes wonderful now in its youth but will develop well for many years. This style of Rioja, a gran reserva, is aged for around 9 years (5 in barrel, then 3-4 in bottle) before release. This oxidative process makes it very resilient to further maturation in bottle.

Furthermore, tempranillo has a special affinity with bottle maturation – as a young wine tempranillo can be quite bland and simple, but with age it evolves beautifully. As it does, it will develop tertiary flavours (savoury, leathery, vegetal notes), become softer in texture (silkier and fleshier) and become more integrated and harmonious. In great vintages like 2001, these top Riojas become quite pinot-like as they get older. It will age with ease to 2019.

For personal wine advice (including matching your menu) for weddings, civil partnerships or other special celebrations or about which wines to add to your gift list, please contact

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Fri 11 Mar 2011

A Society Wedding

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Edit: This post concerns The Society’s Wedding & Gift List service. Though The Society will continue to honour existing Gift Lists, members can no longer request to set up their own Gift Lists.

Gill & Michael WiseWith the forthcoming royal nuptials dominating the press and the summer months around the corner, we thought we’d remind readers planning their own celebrations about The Society’s free and easy-to-use Wedding & Gift List Service.

Below the first member to use the service, Gill Wise from The Wine Society’s Member Services team, talks about the gift list she and her husband made for their big day and the wines they’re still enjoying as a result.

My equally wine-loving husband and I were married last August. We were combining two households’ worth of possessions, so as well as buying the wines for the day itself from The Society we decided to set up a Gift List for our guests to choose some wines for our wedding presents.

Gill's WeddingPutting the list together was a lot of fun, and we ended up choosing a real mixture of wines. Some of our guests ordered from these choices, while others opted to get us online gift vouchers, allowing us even greater freedom to choose the wines we wanted. We felt this combination gave us the best of both worlds, and we decided to leave a few cases of special bottles we’d been given in Members’ Reserves to enjoy later.

Being able to withdraw cases in this way is particularly pleasant, as in many ways it feels like receiving the present all over again – a feeling difficult to replicate with a toaster or kettle!

It was also lovely to receive a complimentary bottle of Champagne from The Society, which really set the mood for the occasion.

The Society's ChampagneFor me, the beauty of the service was its flexibility. Guests enjoyed choosing whether to buy an online voucher or something specific, and we were glad of the option to take the wine immediately or to keep all or some of it in storage.

Most of the wines we kept in Members’ Reserves were Italian reds, which go beautifully with food. We’ve even shared some wines with the guests who bought them for us over dinner, and it’s always nice to see the look on their faces when we tell them they’re the people to thank for the bottle we’re enjoying. We would recommend a Society Gift List to anyone with something to celebrate, and I would certainly use the service again for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions in the future.

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