Monday, 21 November 2011

Mr and Mrs Jones

We left Switzerland on 1 November as girl and boyfriend. We returned to Switzerland on 14 November as man and wife.

Our wedding in England was a wonderful, joyful occasion. Guests came from near and far to celebrate with us, and it was simply an unforgettable day.

While I would prefer not to use this blog to write a synopsis or post a photo album of our wedding, I would like to mention the wines we chose to accompany the menu at our wedding breakfast.

As readers of this blog may know, Jenny and I had been doing a fair amount of sampling during our engagement with a view to selecting our wedding wines. Ultimately, we settled on the following:

First, the starter wine:

Riesling "Pfeffo", 2010, Weingut Pfeffingen, Pfalz
, Germany
We opted for a starter wine that would pair well with smoked salmon, beetroot relish, rocket and brioche. Judging by the reactions around the room, this one went down well. The slight touch of sweetness meant it held up to the relish, while the acidity helped to cut through the oiliness of the salmon. It was also relatively light in alcohol but high in taste.

Our idea to have a dedicated starter wine centred around the desire to have everyone enjoying the same wine for at least one part of the meal. It also lent a certain structure to proceedings, I would say.

Main course:

"Quintessenz", 2009, Weingut Rings, Pfalz, Germany
To go with venison in a rich sauce with mustard and chestnut mash, baby onions and root vegetables, we could have gone for a Pinot Noir. However, we chose this red wine from Rings Estate without hesitation after trying it earlier in the spring. Judging by our guests' reactions, "Quintessenz" stole the show on account of its sheer drinkability. I doubt many people in the room would have ever drunk a German red before, not to mention one as rich as this. A blend of Merlot, Saint Laurent and Dornfelder (i.e. of "globetrotter" and native grapes), this was the revelation of the evening, I can safely say.

Riesling "Terra Rossa", 2009, Weingut Pfeffingen, Pfalz, Germany
The "Quintessenz" put this wine in the shade somewhat, though I don't think many white wines would have stood up to what was essentially a very hearty autumnal/wintry dish. Maybe in hindsight we could have gone for, say, a Pinot Gris or Blanc from Baden, but this still did a sterling job in the circumstances and is a dry Riesling we both really love.

After the main course, we had the bridegroom's father's speech, my speech and then the best man's speech. This is where our sparkling wine, which had already been poured out to guests before dinner as an aperitif to accompany their fish and chip canapés, made a reappearance.

Pinot brut, 2007, Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl, Pfalz, Germany
Nothing that detailed to say other than this predominantly blanc de noirs Sekt more than did the trick.

The surprise came later on our return to Switzerland, when our neighbour knocked on our door to deliver a package containing even more Pinot brut which had arrived while we were on honeymoon. After subsequent inquiries, I discovered that von Buhl had originally sent my order to our Swiss address by mistake. After noticing their error, von Buhl tried to recall the bottles while sending a delivery of 30 bottles to the correct address in the UK instead. Subsequently, 16 of the erroneously dispatched bottles made their way back to Deidesheim while the remaining 14 (an admittedly unusual number for a package) must have got stuck somewhere before eventually ending up in Basel.

Herr Graf at von Buhl said that, given the circumstances, he could make me a very good, reduced offer for the extra bottles that had found their way here. I said that was fine and promptly paid up. We now have plenty of bubbly in stock...

Scheurebe Spätlese, 2009, Weingut Pfeffingen, Pfalz, Germany
To round off our very English menu, we had apple/blackberry crumble and custard (with the custard contained in large jugs on each table). This coupled with Scheurebe was a match made in heaven. There was a slight twist here in that the wine was also served on the plate in a shot glass. What may sound uncouth worked a treat in practice. It was Paul the caterer's idea to incorporate the shot glasses as a way to integrate the wine with the dessert and avoid confusion amid a proverbial forest of wine bottles that would have landed on our guests' tables by then. To stop people from necking the wine like a shot of grappa but enjoying it as a component part of the dessert (athough the former is not necessarily something we would have frowned upon!), we deliberately chose not to refer to the glass of wine on the menu explicitly as a "shot glass" but as a "small glass of dessert wine".

The wine itself had just the requisite sweetness and exotic fruit to hold up to all the components of the dessert. Less the sticky pudding wine some people may have been expecting and more the restorative that guests would continue glugging throughout the evening.

That all the wines came from Germany was no coincidence. Amid what was otherwise a quintessentially English wedding, the unashamedly teutonic wine acted as a counterpoint. And, given the teutonic influence in my family (my mother is German), it also seemed to make sense. That we chose wines exclusively from the Pfalz was, however, less by design and more of a coincidence. All the wines served were simply big favourites of ours, and we hope everyone enjoyed them on the day as much as we did.


  1. Sounds like everything us perfect...and I tipped the Quintessenz would be the star.
    You are too young to maybe know this...part of MY younger years tho...

  2. Thanks Barry. Just listened to the tune and I have heard it before - but only the cover versions, not the original. Billy Paul was a bit before my time.