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So, you’re not a Sommelier…

Updated: Sep 25, 2018

I like wine as much as the next person, and, though a large part of my career as an event manager has been spent pairing entrées with the perfect wines, I am no sommelier. So, I’ve compiled the following tips to fake it until you make it in the world of wine.

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Though well known, Merlot and Chardonnay are not always the best choice.

Even though it’s one of the most common varietals, more people have negative opinions about Chardonnay than you may think. When choosing a white wine option for a group, most people will be satisfied with a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio. Chardonnays become more universally satisfying as the price tag goes up.

For events, Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir will win over Merlot every time. “Cab Sav” is now the most popular varietal of wine in the US. Known for its full body and hints of cedar, cherry, and tobacco, it pairs well with meat and cheese platters at a reception and beef, pork, or chicken at dinner.

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Pinot Noir had a surge in popularity after the 2004 film Sideways when Paul Giamatti’s character touts how special Pinot Noir grapes are. The year following the release of the movie had Pinot Noir sales up 16%. Since then, this lighter red wine has continued to grow in popularity paired with lighter foods like fish, chicken, or shellfish or on its own as a pre-dinner drink.

A decent wine doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are some go-to wines that won’t break your budget.

There are so many amazing wines from all over the globe. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to focus on California and Washington wines. A tried and true red wine is California’s Meiomi Pinot Noir ($16 at the liquor store/$50 at a venue). This fruit-forward, easy-drinking wine has hints of strawberry, blackberry, boysenberry, and dark cherry with notes of vanilla and oak. It starts and ends smooth, and is great with or without a meal. I’ve yet to encounter someone who doesn’t like this wine.

Another inexpensive crowd-pleaser is Washington’s Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon ($12 a liquor store/$40 at a venue) which blends Cabernet Sauvignon with Syrah. This soft, yet rich wine tastes expensive and stands up to steak, pork, and strong cheeses, while not overpowering salmon or lighter fares.

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A white option I love is Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc ($12 a liquor store/$40 at a venue). This California Sauvignon Blanc is known for its bright tropical flavors and crisp finish. Don’t forget a blush option. Rosé increases in popularity every day, it seems. I like to include a Rosé option especially at spring and summer events. Erath Rosé ($11/$36) out of Willamette Valley, Oregon is delicate and fruity. It’s great for hot days and pairing with seafood and lighter flavors.

If you don’t know, just ask the experts.

Don’t be afraid to ask the venue, hotel, or restaurant you have partnered with to host your event. Most reputable establishments have access to a sommelier or have a curated list of wines that will fit any menu and audience. It doesn’t cost more to tap into their expertise. They want your guests to have a great experience, and it’s in the their best interest to steer you in the right direction.

Hey beer-drinkers! Don’t think I’ve forgotten you. Follow me and stay tuned for my next blog installment on cicerones.

Need help with your corporate, non-profit, or social event? Allow Lynn David Events to help leave a lasting impression on your attendees.

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