Just because you can’t travel to Bordeaux right now doesn’t mean you can’t sample some of its best wines as you plan your wedding menu. SIGNATURE BRIDE’s most recent virtual event provided plenty of sips, tips, and laughs from the comforts of home.
Kicking off our brand-new series, SIGNATURE SIPS, certified sommelier Dinkinish “Dink” O’Connor led a dozen future brides (and even a groom) through a Friday evening of French grapes and fine chocolate with The Wines of Bordeaux on February 12. In advance of the event, guests received a decadent care package of three Bordeaux wines curated by Gregory+Vine and gourmet chocolate bars from Milène Jardine Chocolatier, each made from premium French Valrhona chocolate, to complement the night’s wine selections.
SIGNATURE BRIDE’s CMO, Lynn Cooper, launched the event with a warm welcome and a round of quick intros from the evening’s brides, who joined from their homes across the country and dished about their upcoming nuptials with weddings planned from later this month until well into next year, before turning the evening over to our resident wine pro.
O’Connor opened with a brief explanation of the Bordeaux region’s geography and grapes, highlighting their versatility and compatibility with a wide range of menus and palates, perfect for wedding planning. In her signature style, she brought musical references to each bottle, providing a more accessible language for describing wine and shirking the stodgy lingo that leaves some wine lovers feeling lost or intimidated.
Her top tip of the night for wine beginners was simple: Use whatever experience and words you have when describing wine. You may not know what a damp cellar or a barnyard smell like, but that doesn’t mean you can’t describe and compare bottles. If it smells like your fiancé in the morning, go with that, and build your own base of scent and taste references. No one’s wrong in wine.
Each guest received a bottle of En Memoire du Malbec 2016 and a Maison Bertrand Ravache 2019 Le Jardin de Cassie Merlot, along with a sweet or semisweet white Bordeaux that varied among guests. O’Connor was quick to caution that there’s nothing inherently wrong with sweet wines, and many of the night’s brides were surprised to learn that they agreed after tasting their own white Bordeaux, leading to one of the evening’s best wedding-planning tips: If you want to pair a sweet wine with one of your courses (like dessert), but some of your guests are anti-sweet, choose a Bordeaux, where some of the most universally appealing sweet wines are produced.
O’Connor dropped plenty of other wedding-saving tips throughout the night, including the importance of sparkling wines—everyone from wine snobs to total beginners feels a sense of celebration when the bubbly is popped, so don’t forget it! If a COVID wedding means your friends or family will be assisting, be sure they know to open all wines in advance of serving, not necessarily so they can breathe, but because it’s important to smell each wine to make sure it’s “sound.” If it smells off, don’t serve it. (By the way, she says most wine merchants will take a bad bottle back, as long as you didn’t drink half of it!)
When one bride asked if it was OK not to serve a different wine with each course, O’Connor reminded everyone that there are exceptional wines at every price point, including $10 bottles, so no one needs to skimp on the pairings at this memorable meal for the sake of budget. And when choosing those pairings, she warned brides to be wary of general guidance like “Merlots are great with beef.” It’s important to taste specific wines with your exact menu when deciding because every wine has a unique expression. Guidelines are a great starting point, but you really want to know how a producer’s bottle tastes with the plate you’re serving.
Bringing it back to the beat, O’Connor advised everyone to think of grapes like musical genres and bottles like artists. Just because you don’t like one rapper doesn’t mean you should give up on all rap. Try another.
If you’re a bride interested in participating in a future live event or a brand interested in collaborating, email [email protected].