Sommelier Secrets: How to Pick the Perfect Wines for Your Wedding


June 12, 2015 | BY Dheeraj Bhatia

There are more decisions to be made than what labels to present on your big night

Every aspect of the wine menu requires careful planning. First, it’s essential that wines are served in the proper order—champagne to start, whites next, then reds and finally sweet dessert wines.

Nothing can replace champagne for the pre-dinner reception and a good vintage from a renowned house will greatly enhance the event. Try to select as many magnum-sized bottles as possible, as the quality is stunning and they really add a theatrical aspect to the table.

Wines should be chosen to suit every palate, and should be light- to medium-bodied.

For the white, I’d suggest a Chablis from Burgundy. These chardonnay wines tend to be unoaked, crisp and very fresh, with green fruit notes. Chablis is perfect for seafood and spicy cuisines.

For the red, I’d recommend a Bordeaux wine from Saint-Émilion—Hong Kong is very Bordeaux-driven—or a red Burgundy such as Chambolle-Musigny, which is pure romance. Saint-Émilion wines are generous, deep-coloured and considered the most robust in the Bordeaux region.

To follow, you want a dessert wine that is not too cloying and neither too young nor too old. Sauternes would be a good option, or a Vin Santo from Tuscany.

Up-and-coming or boutique wines made from novel grape varieties should be avoided. Although they are certainly nice to discover on another occasion, at a wedding, you want a wine that will connect people and get them talking. If the wine is too distinct, it can put them off.

Wine pairing can add diversity to the food and beverage programme, and you can play with wines from different countries for added interest. But be careful to pour a tasting portion—and not a full glass—of each wine.

All wines must be served at the right temperature and decanting should be done well in advance. Good vintage labels should be double-decanted back into the original bottle so that the guests can see the label.

Having your own sommelier for the big day is the key to smooth realisation, as he or she can ensure such details are observed throughout the wedding party.

Dheeraj Bhatia is the chief sommelier at The Peninsula Hong Kong