Think Local, Drink Local

By Anna Sachse

CTW Features

There's no place like home, right? Here's how to show off your favorite state with a wedding reception that features stand-out local wines, beers and spirits.

A Pretty Presentation

Shine the spotlight on local labels by finding fun ways to make them an active part of your big day's events, says Christopher Chan, director of wine & spirits at The Rainier Club, a historic private club and event space in Seattle. He suggests starting the reception with a "Wine Tasting Bar." Select two each of your state's best white and red wines and pair them with trays of hors d'oeuvres. Syrah is a winner with lamb, for example, while the sweetness of a dry sémillon is sublime with crab cakes.

For suds-lovers, Chan recommends hosting a microbrew station. Fill tubs with ice and a variety of local brews that range from bright, hoppy pale ales to dark, malty ambers and porters.

As for spirits, prepare a build-your-own bar that features a local vodka or gin along with a variety of mixers, such as fresh juices and specialty sodas, and ingredients like seasonal herbs and berries.

"If you opt for station-style dinner service, another way to highlight one or all of these beverages is to pair each table with the wine, beer or cocktail that suits that particular cuisine best," says Jessica Pennington, owner and lead planner for Stella Event Design in St. Joseph, Mich. But even if you decide to keep all the bottles behind the bar, she suggests including the background information on cute signs and/or your menu cards.

Smart Sourcing

Your caterer will likely have advice about which regional beverages are the best match for the food being served, but if you are able to procure your own alcohol and you really want to go local, chat with the folks at an area wine shop, Chan says. Not only do these vino aficionados have an insider's point of view on delicious wines at affordable prices, they often carry craft beers and can typically weigh in on the best local spirits. Plus, many wine shops offer a 10- to 20-percent discount when you buy in bulk, notes Pennington, as do many wineries, breweries, distilleries and grocery stores.

If you really want to show off some higher-end bottles but also have a limited budget, the answer is portion control, says Chan. Feature that favorite spirit in a specialty cocktail and, when guests are seated, have waiters pour small glasses of wine and beer as a special treat to kick off dinner. Or go with Pennington's sweet tip: Stick with cheaper products in the bar, but offer a really splendid local dessert wine with the cake for a fabulous flavor combination that guests won't soon forget.

(c) CTW Features

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