All you ever wanted to know about wedding wines

Galway Now recently asked us to help with an article about wedding wines. 

Here is what we came up with together:

Tell us a bit about yourself…
Following a successful career at some of Canada's top hotels and restaurants, Fergus O'Halloran moved back to his native Galway in 2004. He was heavily involved in all aspects of the design, planning and philosophy of luxury boutique Galway hotel The Twelve, in Barna, of which he is now Managing Director. Noted for his exceptional food and wine pairings, Fergus is an experienced manager and a knowledgeable sommelier and wine educator who has been awarded a vast number of Wine Spectator and industry accolades. Fergus has a tremendous passion and belief in food tourism and in showcasing local ingredients and skills. He contributes significantly to the national conversation and direction of the hospitality sector and is involved with the Restaurant Association of Ireland, the Western Tourism Forum, the Irish Hotels Federation and Galway Tourism Committee, Galway Food Festival and Wild West Food Trail.

If a couple feels clueless about wine, would a wine tasting lesson help?  
We do a menu tasting inclusive of wines with every couple. This actually turns into a wine class over the duration of their evening. They leave with a better knowledge and greater appreciation of wine and confident that their guests are in for a great food and wine experience on the day of their wedding. 

 How much wine should you allow per guest during the meal?   
It is always best to budget for a half bottle of wine per person.  

What ratio of red to white wine should you order?    
Depending upon your menu, your guests may usually consume slightly more red than white. However, you should only be charged for what you consume. Thus, unless you are bringing your own wine, this should not be a consideration. If it is, then the rule of thumb would be 60% red and 40% white. Another factor is the weather. Of course, if it is a beautiful sunny day, white wine consumption will be higher.    

Buying your own wine vs wine supplied by the venue – which option is best?   
Unfortunately, wine is seen as an afterthought by many couples and even more so, the venue. I have attended so many weddings and functions where it is obvious that absolutely no consideration is given to the wine served. Plonk ruins the dinner whilst a well chosen wine makes it memorable. Many hotels will push their ‘banquet wine’ on you. This usually tends to be a wine which costs them little and carries a high profit margin. The advice is to stay well away from this. Instead taste wines from their list with the food you are planning to serve.  If you have access to a wine which you love and the venue does not stock it, then supply your own. At The Twelve, we have over 400 wines to choose from and we will match your wine to your menu choices and to your budget.  

If couples are buying their own wine, where is the best place to go?    
France, Italy and Spain. But consider it as a holiday rather than as a trip to solely buy wine.  

Do you have any top tips couples should consider when they go to taste their wedding wine options?    
Come with an open mind, relax and enjoy your evening as if it were a great night out together. Be open to trying wines outside of the norm such as pecorino, albarinos, tempranillos, pinot from Oregon. Choose what you enjoy with the food you are eating. Do not try to choose a wine based upon what you believe your guests will like. By the end of your evening, you should leave with a new found appreciation for wine and the confidence that your wedding dining experience will be the best your guests will ever encounter.  

Anything else you would like to add?     
As we say at The Twelve – ‘’Celebrate Food, Celebrate Wine, Celebrate Life’’  

Paul Cotter

Bad Dog, 16 Seapoint, Barna, Galway