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Toasting the Bride and Groom

May your love outlast your "Champagne" headache!

By Jan Walsh

It is quite common for brides and grooms to spend lavishly on the diamond, gown, flowers, and reception fare, and request the cheapest "Champagne" available. If vintage Champagne is beyond the budget, toast with a non-vintage (NV) Champagne or a seductive cuvée. Made in a definitive house style, and maintained by meticulous cuvée blending, non-vintage Champagnes are blends of two or more vintages-and make up 75 to 80 percent of all Champagnes produced. A cuvée is a blend of different base wines, usually from different grape varieties, vineyards and even vintages.

Tria Market's Chandler Busby suggests Pierre Boniface Apremont Vin de Savoie NV ($12). "I like this wine for weddings because it is light and crisp, slightly effervescent and in low alcohol. Apremont satisfies both the sparkling and still white wine drinkers, simplifying an otherwise complicated day," he explains. "Apremont is a zippy and refreshing white wine that also mirrors the Swiss Alps under which it is produced."

Thomas LaBoone at Village Wine Market toasts Bailly-Lapierre Brut Chardonnay Crémant de Bourgogne 2003 ($23). "Made with all the care and standards of a Champagne, this sparkling Chardonnay from Burgundy delivers a smooth elegance and great acidity for a great price," he describes. "And this is the company that makes the incredible Saint Meyland NV sparkling wine ($13), which is easily the best sparkling wine available in Birmingham for the money." In addition to helping you select wines for your wedding, LaBoone invites brides and grooms to sign up for either a bridal or a "stock the bar" registry.

At Vintage Wine Shoppe, Patti Davidson raises a glass to Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvee NV ($46). "Creamy, toasty, slightly nutty, with good balance and a smooth finish," she describes. "It is as good as many luxury cuvees that cost two or three times this price." Straw gold in color with very fine bubbles, aromas reveal lime, grapefruits, red fruits, banana and pineapple. And flavors of citrus, almonds, toasted bread, cherry, blackberry, plum and pear evolve in this elegant wine with a clean finish. Vintage Wine Shoppe also offers a bridal registry. Brides and grooms can also register for gifts-including their favorite wines-at Vintage.

Zac Martin, director of wine, at The Grape, Summit location, suggests DeVenoge, Demi-Sec NV ($55). "A deliciously sweet Champagne to serve at a wedding reception, especially for those who prefer sweeter wines," he says. "DeVenoge Demi-Sec is a light floral aroma turns to berry and honey on the palate of this medium-bodied, well-balanced bubbly. It also has an attractive, fruity character."

Pop open for a few options for a private tasting with your fiancé, or invite the entire wedding party. And find a wine worthy of your wedding. For more sparkling wedding wine suggestions, visit the Wedding page at BirminghamWine.com.

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