How to Choose Wedding Wines and Gift Wines (Video)

‘Tis the season to get married or to celebrate an anniversary. If you’d like to give the happy bottle the gift of wine, how do you know which ones will age?


Here with her tips is Natalie MacLean who offers Canada’s most popular online wine pairing classes at



Welcome, Natalie.

First, let’s start with why wine makes a great wedding or anniversary gift?


Wine is an ideal gift because one-size fits all, doubles are okay and it’s easy to re-gift if you don’t like it. I’d rather have two of the same bottles of bubbly than two sets of identical tea towels. ;)






How do you know which wines age best?


The wines that age best have all the elements in balance–fruit, alcohol, sugar, acidity and tannins. These knit together as the wine matures to create more complex aromas and to make it smoother and more subtle.


I have some examples with me today starting with a local favourite, Thirty Bench. I have their flagship wines, the Small Lots Cabernet Franc and the Benchmark Red. These beauties will age for at least ten to fifteen years, if not longer.






Thirty Bench Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2016
Beamsville Bench, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada









Thirty Bench Benchmark Red 2016
Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada







You have a third wine from Thirty Bench: what’s the difference?


This is their Winemaker’s Red, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The difference is that this one is made for drinking now. It has aromas of cassis, smoke and dried herbs.







Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend
Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada






I love creating gift sets of wines for newlyweds: a wine to drink now, a wine to drink in say five years and a wine to drink on their tenth or fifteenth anniversary. I like to include a note about that with the wines. Even better, when it’s local, you can ask the winemaker to sign the bottles.



What do you have for us next?


Bordeaux is the classic age-worthy wine. I have Château Le Boscq 2015 and the Château Clarke 2016. These are also blue-chip wines that go up in value over time, so collectors love them.







Château Le Boscq 2015
Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux A.C., France









Château Clarke 2016
Listrac-Médoc, Bordeaux A.C., France







Bordeaux can be quite tannic in youth–that furry mouth feeling you get from eating walnuts–so as it ages the tannins chain together and smooth out. It’ll also develop some incredibly exotic aromas like leather and cigar box over time.


One tip to personalize your gift further is to choose a vintage from the year the couple met or the year they were married.





Tell us about the bubbly you’re recommending.


Champagne is the wine of celebration, so it’s a wedding or anniversary classic. Non-vintage Champagne, like this Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne, is meant to be consumed as soon as you buy it, perhaps on the way to the church ;)





Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne
Reims, Champagne, France







Vintage Champagne, like this 2010 Dom Perignon, can age for decades. It takes on toasted almond aromas that are lovely and pair well with looking at wedding scrapbooks.






Dom Pérignon Brut Vintage Champagne 2010
Champagne A.C., France






What if you’re on the receiving end of a wine gift: how do you know how long to age it?


These days, it’s so easy to find a vintage chart online to check for peak drinking years. Or you can visit a website like mine to check the maturity dates for the wine, along with tasting notes and food pairings.





If you’re lucky enough to get more than one of the same bottle, experiment, try opening one during the first year it’s projected to be drinking well. See if you like it, and if so, enjoy the others soon after.


But if it’s still knitting together, now you have a benchmark to wait another year or two. This also applies to wines you buy for yourself, say a case of a wine you love. You can see how it evolves over time, just like the relationship ;)






You can find all of the wines Natalie recommended on her website at

Posted with permission from CHCH.




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