Thursday, June 11th, 2009...7:20 pm

Cordially Invited Guest: Anu Karwa, Swirl Events

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Today’s guest is Anu Karwa, Founder and CEO of Swirl Events, which offers customized, private in-home wine tasting with a fresh, hip spin. Anu knows everything there is to know about wine.

Q:  Can you recommend any Long Island wines for a wedding reception that won’t break the couple’s budget?

A:  The Pellegrini East End Chardonnay is crisp and very food friendly and at $12 a bottle, it won’t break the couple’s budget. But no reception is complete without an equally stunning red – try the Wolffer Reserve Merlot for $16.

Q:  What does champagne for the reception typically cost, and are there any less expensive options?

A:  Champagne can be 10-30% of your reception budget with each bottle starting at about $30 for drinkable Champagne.  A great alternative is Prosecco from Veneto, Italy.  Not only is this wine 1/5 the cost of the typical wedding Champagne, but it’s easy drinking and nearly universally loved.

Q:  Does the reception have to have an open bar?  This can get pretty expensive.  What are other ideas?

A:  Open bars can put a couple’s budget over the top. Instead, close down the bar during speeches and one hour prior to the end of the reception – this is also a safety tip for drivers.  Another way to be equally sophisticated is to limit your options. Serve one white wine, one red wine, one beer, and one “special” drink that you have the venue create and keep ready in pitchers.

Q:  What ‘s your top tip for the bride and groom when it comes to selecting wine for their reception?

A:  When picking wine for a wedding, you want to pick one white wine and one red wine. Make sure they’re food friendly and that they’ll please a wide spectrum of palates. Don’t pick extreme or non-food friendly wines, e.g. a sweet white wine, a big Barolo, red Zinfandel, etc. Plus, you need a sparkling wine for the toasts. My picks for wedding whites include: a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (especially the Marlborough region), a dry Riesling from Washington State or Alsace or an unoaked Chardonnay (known as White Burgundy in France.) For reds, I would pick a Pinot Noir (known as Red Burgundy in France.) Great choices come out of the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the classic region of Burgundy. They’re very food friendly or perfect on their own and easily please a wide taste range.

Q:  What about the budget for wine?

A: Assess your crowd. Some crowds are more likely to consume wine, beer and cocktails. The ratio is up to you, but assume people drinking wine consume one glass per hour.

Q:  For couples who really love wine, do you have any reception ideas?

A: Pick wines that are special to you and indicate the meaning behind the choice to guests via small tent cards. Place the tent cards in front of the wine or near the bar. This gives guests a little insight into you as a couple.

  • When  either the bride or groom come from a wine-friendly area, such as Long Island, pick a wine from there then.
  • Have you vacationed in wine country?
  • Are you especially environmentally conscious and planning a “green” wedding? Pick all organic or biodynamic wines.
  • Have you picked a wine to be your new “home” wine?
  • Do you have a special restaurant where you shared your first date, where he proposed, etc…? Pick a wine off their menu.
  • Are you going to a honeymoon spot known for its wine: Napa, Australia, France, Italy, Egypt, even India?

And here’s another idea: Be different and have a wine tasting cocktail reception! Swirl, as featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, The Knot and more, does wine tasting parties in the NY, NJ and CT region. We can set up stations, each with one wine and a sommelier or bartender pouring and discussing the wine. Pair an appetizer or cheese with each wine being tasted and keep it at the station. Get score cards printed with the names of the wines and the station number. Hand these to guests so they can vote for their favorite or write notes. This keeps guests occupied and encourages mingling between guests who might not know each other.

Thanks, Anu!