If you're like me, you're rising tomorrow at an insanely early hour to watch the royal wedding of Will and Kate. That means being up around 2 a.m. Pacific time for me. At that hour I want something interesting to sip on while watching the spectacle, um I mean spectacular event, on TV.
When nothing but bubbles will do
There's been much speculation over what the royal couple will drink as they toast their marriage. The New York Times' wine writer Eric Asimov recently wrote about English bubbly. Yes, that's right, the Brits are indeed making sparkling wine, and more and more of it as time goes on. After all, the Champagne region in France has limestone rich soil, and the White Cliffs of Dover in southern England, where you'll find the vineyards, are also limestone, a similar terroir if you will for growing grapes as in Champagne. But alas, French bubbles will instead carry the day.
While Bollinger Champagne has been the traditional choice of English royalty (Queen Victoria granted the house a Royal Warrant to be official suppliers of Champagne to the court), it's now known that what's filling Will and Kate's glasses is the bubbly Pol Roger, and a non-vintage Champagne at that. This choice makes sense. In 1975 the Champagne house created a special cuvee´, or blend, called the Cuveé Sir Winston Churchill, as Pol Roger was his favorite bubbly. Some reports say Pol Roger was also served at Charles and Diana's wedding in 1981. It's also a more sensible choice instead of a splashy "prestige cuvee´" like Dom Pe´rignon or Cristal, costing hundreds of dollars per bottle. The regal Pol Roger goes for about $50 depending on where you buy it. Thrift has been a theme of this royal wedding celebration (as if royalty really ever equates to thrift).
A fitting American-made alternative is the Wedding Cuvee´, made by Iron Horse Vineyards in California's Sonoma County. Perhaps it's sentimental, but I got engaged over a bottle of Wedding Cuvee´. My husband and I often drink it to celebrate anniversaries.
Since we're talking bubbly, and a morning wedding, a mimosa is another option. That's fine, but if you go that way, there are some nice, inexpensive Prosecco sparklers from Italy or sparkling wines from American producers such as Domaine Ste. Michelle, that make excellent mixers, but are also tasty on their own.
One other bubbly to consider is really more fizzy than it is bubbly. Italian Moscato d'Asti, from the Piedmont region of Italy, is what the Italians call frizzante. It's slightly sweet, with lower alcohol, and is light and refreshing, and also wallet-friendly. One of my favorites, which is perfect for the Royal Wedding is Scagliola's Primo Bacio ("First Kiss").
Port, another wine fit for a royal occasion
If bubbles aren't your thing in the morning, Port wines offer a wide variety of choices. The Brits are famous for consuming more Port than even the Portuguese, and invested heavily in the Port region, which is the Duoro Valley. That's why you see very English names, like Taylor Fladgate, Graham's and Warre's on bottles of Port. I'd go for a vibrant Ruby port, which has more fruit and is a younger wine, over a rich tawny port (usually aged with more complex flavors) or a vintage bottling.
Just remember to chill whatever bottle of bubbly or port (slightly chilled is fine) you are drinking tonight, so that you are ready to pop the cork and toast the royal couple in the wedding of the century.