INSPIRATION: Bring on the Bubbly!

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Thanks to Kara Sweet of The Sweet Sommelier in Newcastle for sending this informative piece on how to pick the best bubbly for your first toast as husband & wife! Find Kara on Facebook for lots of vino inspiration…

Bring on the Bubbly!

The beautiful bride has walked down the aisle.  The handsome groom has said his vows.  The newly married couple has shared their first kiss.  Now the celebration begins!  And it wouldn’t be a true wedding celebration without breaking out the bubbles to toast the Mr. and Mrs.  Sparkling wines are a must at wedding celebrations.  Though bubbles come in many different kinds and styles, a great celebratory wine must be refreshing and graceful, just like the happy couple.

When most people think of sparkling wine, they think of Champagne.  However, true Champagne is the sparkling wine made in the French wine-making region called Champagne.  Champagne is made from a blend of red and white grapes that actually go through a second fermentation process while in the bottle.  This fermentation creates carbon dioxide that is reabsorbed into the wine, thus creating the bubbles.  This is called “Methode Champenoise” or “Methode Traditionnelle,” so even though only wines from this particular region of France are true Champagnes, many other wines around the world go through this same process.  Drinking real Champagne at a wedding is a wonderful gesture, but when most Champagnes cost $35 a bottle or more, it may not always fit into a wedding budget for all the guests to toast the newlyweds with Champagne.  If Champagne is on the menu, there are some amazing producers that make breath-taking wines.  Of course, everyone has heard of Dom Perignon and Cristal, both retailing for just under or well over $200 per bottle.  Other Champagnes with fewer zeros in the price are produced by Moet and Chandon and Veuve Clicquot.  Of course, if producer is not an issue, just look for the word “Champagne” on a bottle, and you will be enjoying one of the world’s most renowned sparkling wines.

If Champagne is not in the budget or on the wish list of the wedding planners, there are other sparklers from around the world that are equally amazing for a wedding toast…and most are a bit more budget-friendly.  Cava is the sparkling wine made in the northeast region of Spain near Catalonia.  Cavas are produced using the same classic method of Champagne, so these wines make a great alternative for toasting at less than half the price per bottle.  Producers to look for if choosing Cava are Codorniu and Freixenet (in the black bottle).


Yet another option for a sparkling wine toast is to purchase Prosecco from Italy.  These wines are known for having slightly larger bubbles and being less crisp than Champagnes or Cavas, yet make for a great wine for wedding receptions.  Again, the price is going to be less than half the cost of Champagnes while still drinking a quality product.  Look for Prosecco on the bottle or these reputable producers:  Bisol and Masottina.

Though Europe has been producing sparkling wines for centuries, you can also find wonderful bubbly in the United States.  If you are looking for a higher-quality sparkling from the U.S., make sure to look for the terms “Methode Champenoise” or “Methode Traditionnelle” on the bottle.  Due to American wine laws, these are the only terms to tell how the wine was made.  Of course, California makes some amazing sparklers.  Look for the producers Gloria Ferrer, Domaine Carneros, Schramsberg, and Roederer.  New York State is also moving toward making quality sparkling wines; Dr. Konstantin Frank is leading the way.  Gruet, from New Mexico, is also a great bet.

These are not the only sparkling wines made around the world.  All countries make some sort of bubbly.  Other terms to look for on wine bottles that may help find a sparkler include cremant, sekt, frizzante, spumante, Blanquette de Limoux, and Franciacorta.  These words either mean the wines are a sparkling style or are produced in a region that, by law, are required to make sparkling wines.  Bubbles also come in many dryness/sweetness levels, anywhere from very dry to very sweet.  However, these levels can be confusing; when the term “dry” is used, it does not actually refer to the driest wines.  The driest sparklers are called Brut Zero (though these are not as common in the U.S.).  Brut means dry.  Extra Dry actually means not as dry as a Brut but off-dry.  Sec is semi-sweet, Demi-Sec is sweet, and Doux is very sweet.  Though these are the French terms, they are used fairly universally for other European and American sparklers.  Of course some bubbly wines, like Moscato d’ Asti, will always be sweet, even if they don’t have any of the above terms on the label.

With so many options, it can be hard to decide.  However, like most wedding decisions, budget might play a part in the celebratory toast.  If budget is no issue, treat your guests to true Champagne or a quality sparkling from one of the great producers mentioned earlier. When trying to stay within a budget, wedding planners can have a special (more expensive) bottle of sparkling for the bride, groom, and bridal party to toast with, and then have a quality—yet less expensive—option for all of the guests.  Of course, like with any product, cheap options can be found.  These might be wines that are made from a method other than the classic method to make them sparkling…and that’s okay.  The most important part of this special day is not the brand of sparkling wine, but the bride and groom that are being toasted with that wine!

The final, and absolutely most important, note on sparkling wines, however, is the serving temperature of these wines.  Sparkling wines MUST be served COLD, as cold as the wine can get!  Even the most expensive bubbly will not taste its best if it is served at room temperature or warm.  In fact, for many years, I believed I didn’t like sparkling wines because of too many wedding receptions where I had hot bubbly.  Make sure to keep the sparklers in a restaurant-grade, very cold refrigerator just until it is time to pop the top.  Ask for volunteers or have the event-location staff help to open and pour the bottles just before time to toast.  If there are still bottles with wine in them, make sure to put these bottles on ice so they can be consumed cold during the remainder of the wedding reception.

After the bride has lifted her veil and the groom has professed his love, it is time to celebrate this beautiful new union!  These celebrations include special speeches, loving dances, and festive toasts.  Sparkling wine is an important part of this tradition.  No wedding day is complete without the pop of a cork followed by a joyful “Cheers” to the newlyweds!  Congratulations!

Thanks again to Kara Sweet of The Sweet Sommelier in Newcastle for the tips on picking that great bubbly for your first toast as husband & wife! Find Kara on Facebook for lots of vino inspiration!




One reception trend is the cocktail — set up with the bar ahead of time, the drink of choice is provided for the guests.  Now, whether you charge for said drink or give it away, in my opinion, is up to you — a cash bar is always popular, and I for one would venture to guess that a lovely sign with the reception’s cocktail of choice and price would sell quite well.  But, if you’d like to treat your guests, a drink on the house is always popular!


Photo by Charles Walton IV; Styling by Buffy Hargett;

As we know, there are as many cocktail recipes out there as there are opinions on how you should be planning your wedding. 🙂 Below are a few awesome websites to check out for some recipe inspiration — and be sure to scroll to the bottom, as we discuss our own summer cocktail recipe and some fabulous Wyoming resources!


How do you want to display your cocktail?  If you want to have a bit of fun and make the cocktail part of your atmosphere, purchase your own glasses — they can be fabulous take-home gifts to your guests!  (For the budget-conscious, yes this might make you faint of heart — perhaps consider this for a small wedding, an outdoor event, or do some shopping online to find purchases in bulk.  Another great option? Garage sales and flea markets! A eclectic mix of mismatched glasses would be tres chic for a garden-style reception or fun & funky modern vibe!)

Here’s a look I LOVE — I’m imagining outdoor weddings, garden themes, and of course western weddings — but I’m sure any theme could adapt this idea easily…the Mason jar…


Of course, we are WYOMING Weddings for a reason — we’re here to promote all that’s fabulous for weddings in Wyoming! How cool would it be to support all sorts of WY businesses with your big event?!  If you want a hometown splash (no pun intended) at your reception, there are some fabulous wine and spirit manufacturers in Wyoming that you can incorporate into your reception’s cocktail: — Table Mountain Vineyards:  Made in Huntley, WY, owner Patrick Zimmerer is passionate about both Wyoming and wine.  His blog contains fun and unique recipes using his wine.  Look for the recipes, or just ask your bartender to stock TMV for your wedding! (*Check out Patrick’s educational and entertaining columns in every issue of our sister magazine, Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine!) — Irvin Cellar Winery:  In Riverton, the Irvin Cellar Winery is a fun place to explore wine!  Check out their website for their options, including some fantastic fruit wines! They also have a wine club! — Koltiska Fine Spirits:  This family business operates out of Sheridan, WY, and do they love what they do! The family works together to create their amazing product.  That is just COOL — and 100% Wyoming! (*Check out our Drink of Summer 2011, coming out in our summer issue of Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine soon — containing Koltiska and created by the MAGICAL Cece Tolin of Vintage Fine Wine & Martini Bar in Casper!) — Wyoming Whiskey:  We know what you’re going to say:  they’re not ready yet! That’s okay — we still are excited to promote this up-and-coming Kirby, Wyoming business!  It’ll be a few years still until they’re ready to release product, but keep up with these guys — it’ll be super exciting when they’re ready to release!


Carrying Wyoming beer at your wedding is another fabulous idea!  Here are a list of Wyoming’s breweries — talk to your bar and see what it takes to bring Wyoming beer to your wedding!

Altitude Chophouse & Brewery, Laramie:

Bitter Creek Brewing, Rock Springs:

Black Tooth Brewing, Sheridan:

Lander Brewing Co., Lander:

Library Restaurant & Brewery, Laramie:

Snake River Brew Pub, Jackson:

Snowy Mountain Brewing, Saratoga:

Suds Brothers Brewing, Evanston:

Thai Me Up Restaurant & Brewery, Jackson:

Wind River Brewing Company:


Be on the lookout for our Drink of Summer 2011 recipe in our upcoming summer issue of Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine, featuring Koltiska Fine Spirits from Sheridan!  If you serve our Drink of Summer at your wedding this summer, please send us some pictures — we’ll be posting the pictures of the Drink of Summer as it’s served out there this summer!


‘Til Next Time…Have fun and be creative, be YOU!


Kati Hime, Editor

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WYO Wine for your Wedding?

When you’re considering something fun for your centerpiece, gifts, even favors … consider giving a beautiful bottle of wine with your own custom label!  We have some fantastic wine makers in Wyoming, and it’s worth a call to see what they have to offer! Can they offer special labels or a service to make your wedding wine unique?

One of our partners is Table Mountain Vineyards, located in Huntley, Wyoming.  Patrick takes pride in his work and enjoys supporting all things Wyoming — give him a call or shoot him an email to see how you can include Wyoming wine in YOUR event!  307-459-0233

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