At a wedding reception, matching a wine with the food is rarely a consideration, especially when you consider the other needs: flowers, decor, guest list, music, orchestrating the ceremony . . . .
Yet a bottle of good Champagne works wonders for the ambiance and the romance. And coincidentally a wine called just that, Romance, is one of the nicest choices for a wedding reception I can think of.
Now, let's be realistic. Most of the guests at a wedding won't be wine connoisseurs, so a totally dry Champagne is probably out of the question. What is needed is something with a touch of residual sugar, but nothing cloyingly sweet or those with refined taste buds will gag.
As an experience, Chateau De Baun's wine called Romance is unmatchable. To begin with, it's made from the Symphony grape, a cross between Muscat of Alexandria and an offshoot of Grenache, and by itself it produces a very spicy wine that has an aroma reminiscent of carnations and gardenias.
As a sparkling wine, with only 1.2% residual sugar, it is a pure delight of intense flavors without overt sweetness.
Chateau De Baun makes another sparkling wine from the Symphony grape that may be even better at the wedding. Its name is Rhapsody, and at 1.4% residual sugar, it's about the same sweetness level, but slightly fuller-bodied because of the addition of a dollop of red Pinot Noir. This gives the wine a slight pink color and more roundness. We tried it with wedding cake and found the wine tasted dry and was a lovely contrast to the sweetness of the cake.
Both of the Symphony wines are made by the classic French methode champenoise and retail for $12 a bottle.
An alternative for those who want a more traditional yet still fun wine with the reception is Adler Fels Winery's attractive Melange a Deux, appropriately named for weddings. However, the "melange" in the title refers not to the wedding stars but to the two grapes used in equal proportions to make this bone-dry wine, Johannisberg Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
The intense floral/gardenia aroma indicates the wine may be a touch sweet, so its dryness comes as a surprise--a pleasant one for connoisseurs, a disappointment for Aunt Agatha.
Also fairly dry, though with a hint of residual sugar (3.2%), is Culbertson Cuvee de Frontignan, a sparkling Muscat from the small San Diego County winery. It's pricey ($18) but a very special wine for lovers of sparkling Muscat--delicate and fresh.
If sweet is what you want, you might try one of the most successful new Gallo products in years. It is called Spumante Ballatore and it is a sparkling Muscat that has won 14 gold medals since it was introduced in 1984. The freshness of the fruit is obvious and the sweetness (about 8% residual sugar) is a delight with wedding cake. It sells for about $4.50.
Malvasia Bianca also makes a delightful wedding wine, and one made sparkling is from Stony Ridge. And at $6.50 it's less expensive than some, and sweeter than the Ballatore. Its aroma has a peachiness that's appealing.
Better balanced, but also fairly sweet, is a superb Johannisberg Riesling sparkling wine from Ste. Chapelle in Idaho, designated Special Harvest Demi-Sec. This wine has a most delicate floral aroma and a rich, full taste. It sells for $10.