It was one of those invitations that land in your inbox and catch your eye because of their sheer unlikeliness. I’ve been to wine and food matching dinners – but matching wines to wedding dresses? Surely this was some sort of wind-up? But no, having re-read the invitation, this was definitely what it said: “the language of romance in wedding styling and corresponding wines of love”. Seeing as I am a sucker for weddings (witness my own FOUR ceremonies!), how could I refuse? So shortly before Valentine’s Day, Nick and I presented ourselves at the lovely Langham Hotel at the top end of Regent Street, to be whisked off to the impressive Infinity Suite where the event was taking place. The Langham is one of those classically glamorous old school London hotels and the Infinity Suite is, I have to say, the largest and most luxurious hotel suite I have seen outside of my room at Atlantis The Palm in Dubai (i.e. absolutely humungous) – and apparently it is one of the most expensive in London. The occasion was the launch of a bespoke wine service by Tom Harrow (The Wine Chap) in collaboration with exclusive wedding organisers Love & Lord, and I could not wait to see how the connection was to be made between the dress and the wine!
Once we had all had a chance to nose around the enormous suite and were settled with a glass of bubbly, we sat back to hear what Lucia Silver (creative director of Love & Lord and founder of The State of Grace) and Tom Harrow had to say. And astonshingly, after listening to them I could almost say that I got the wine/wedding dress connection . Lucia explained the services that Love & Lord offer, which basically boils down to a one-stop shop for a totally bespoke wedding experience, incorporating damn near anything that the bride and groom wants. The locations that they offer are scattered around the world including the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Provence, Marrakesh, Scotland and the home counties (Le Manoir aux quat Saisons) and, of course, the Langham in central London. For a couple with an ambitious vision and a robust budget, the sky is evidently the limit: Love & Lord have done things for clients like importing hand-crafted crystal lanterns from India for table centre pieces, transporting 20 entire lemon tress to the top of a cliff to enhance an already majestic setting, or even sourcing a troupe of synchronised swimmers to perform at a wedding in Tuscany. All fine and well, you say, but what about the dress/wine link? Well Lucia said (and I concur) that the first things that get chosen when a couple are getting married are the dress, and the venue. Once these two are chosen, they usually dictate the theme and mood for the rest of the wedding: it’s not a giant leap from choosing a 1930′s deco-style dress to having a deco-themed wedding; and once you decide to get married in a Tuscan villa, it becomes somewhat unlikely that that you will be serving your guests Thai food. So in fact, “matching the wine to the dress” really means “matching the wine to the theme of the wedding as dictated by the choice of dress” – surely a sensible thing to do. And apart from helping couples choose a structured selection of wines for the wedding itself, to match their chosen theme (and budget!), Wine Chap also offers a gift registry that guests the option of buying carefully selected individual bottles, half or full cases of wine as presents for the happy couple. And if the couple have not created a gift registry, Wine Chap offers s selection of 3 wines to mark the passing years, gift-boxed with tasting notes, food pairing suggestions and a personal message, costing from £50 to £120.
But what of the dresses and the wine, I hear you ask? Lucia talked us through four actual weddings that Love & Lord had helped to design and execute, showing us the four different dresses. Once the dress andthe idea behind the wedding theme had been explained, Tom took over and explained what wine he would have paried with each ceremony and dress, and we got to taste the wine. Here’s the selection:
The “Demure” dress (a simple bias cut silk crepe dress with long, transparent chiffon sleeves and a puddle train) was matched with Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne (very fine mousse, butterscotchy, stewed apple notes, clean, lemony finish).
The “Dolce Vita” dress (a sculpted plunge-front corset and lace-up back, short skirt and cheeky bustle) was matched with Vesevo Fiano d’Avellino (appley, like green Fizz Bar sweets. Wonderful palate – a very distinct flavours of pears. One of those wines that makes you salivate – perfect with appetisers. Apparently it also works with tomatoes because of ite minerality and good acids.)
The “Versailles” lace coat (a body-silhouetting high-collared coat of Belgian lace with train) and for later, the “Siren” dress with “Maharani” coat (a 1930s inspired low-back satin dress worn with an Indian-inspired beaded organza silk coat) were matched with Chêne Bleu Rosé (lovely onionskin colour, full bodied and delicious for a rosé, with notes of papaya and tropical fruit salad, good, clean finish.)
The “Goddess” dress and “Erte” Cape (extravagant 30s style silk satin dress with plunging back and jewelled tie, topped with a deco sequinned cape) was matched with La Giaretta Valpolicella Classico “I Quadretti” (a red wine whose grapes are picked early to maintain acidity, then dried so that they lose 30% of their water content which concentrates the flavour and alcohol, at 14%! Wonderful nose, concentrated fruit, dried cherries and berries with a touch of white pepper. A lovely palate witn nice structurem supple tanins and a VERY long fruit finish with dried plums and peaches. A very surprising wine.)
Despite my initial doubts, it was a most enjoyable evening – Lucia and Tom were both excellent and engaging speakers; the venue was lovely, the wines were good (as were the rather smashing canapés) and who can resist a little wedding voyeurism? Sadly, I doubt that I can persuade Nick that we need a troupe of synchronised swimmers or fireworks on barges on the Venice Grand Canal for our next vow renewal (!), but if I were in such a rareified market, I would certainly engage Love & Lord’s services, particularly having met and chatted to some of the charming and enthusiastic employees. But even though I’m not in the market for a wedding co-ordinator, I can certainly see myself making use of the Wine Chap’s drinkable wedding gift services. And if I should win the Lotto, I will be decamping to the Infinity Suite with immediate effect.
Thanks again to Love & Lord and the Wine Chap for a most enjoyable and entertaining evening.