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Wedding Wines

Cape Cod Package Store's wine manager shares tips for great wedding wines.

As part of our special focus on weddings in this issue, Centerville’s Cape Cod Package Store wine manager and buyer Diane Slater speaks with Cape Cod Life about the perfect wine for a Cape Cod or Islands wedding reception.

Tell us about your background in the wine industry.

Wedding Wines

I’ve been in the wine business for almost two decades. I put myself through college tending bar and working in restaurants and also owned my own restaurant in the Federal Hill neighborhood in Providence. I’ve had jobs with small fine wines companies. Then my partner and I bought a second home in Barnstable Village. I saw the Cape Cod Package Store expanding and wanted a change of pace. It’s been a lovely situation.

What are your goals as wine manager for the Cape Cod Package Store?

It’s been my mission to develop the wine room. We have a full box package store with spirits and beer and an additional room for wine. We’ve expanded to include a global selection. We have everything you need for entertaining for weddings, big parties, or a small cookout. We try to carry a large selection of artisan wines from around the world and taste as many as possible before they come in. They’re delicious—they’re a taste of the world!

Tell us about your in-store wine tastings?

We have Enomatic wine machines on the premises. We call them “liquid geography.” Wine at its best is a taste of a place and should transport you to that place, so that’s what is behind the liquid geography metaphor. We change the wines every month and the machines are open as long as the store is.

Our wine club is complimentary. People can come in and even if they don’t know a lot, they can try a Viognier even if they can’t spell or pronounce the name of the wine. They can have a real interactive experience here and it helps me diagnose their palate. You develop a trust. It’s relationship building really.

How do you work with a bride or a wedding planner?

The people who come to see us are often getting married on the beach, or in a beach home. There are some people who are budget conscious, but they want a fun wine; they might choose a bottle based on a nickname, or maybe they’re green-minded and want an organic wine. It’s really personalized, so there’s not a formula.

What advice do you have on pairing wines with food for a reception?

I always try to get people to go with what they like, but it’s got to be sensible. If you want a red wine paired with a fish course, that’s fine, but don’t pick a cabernet—pick a lighter red. In the summer, go with a Grüner Veltliner. There’s a slight chill on these wines and they’re very pleasant. It really depends on the budget and menu.

What emerging wine trends do you see for weddings?

Couples are using wines that are personalized to them. Mostly what I’ve run into is young couples who don’t want the big-brand stuff because it’s their own very special event. We work with wines from Argentina, France, and Chile that are really affordable so they can get bottles that look great.

Are more people opting for wine as the beverage of choice at weddings?

Wine is very, very hot. People are looking at wine like they do vegetables at a farmers market. They want something from a small and artisanal winery that is organic, or maybe even biodynamic. We also sell hibiscus flowers that can be dropped into bottles that open up when the wine is poured.

What are your personal recommendations?

I would look at sparkling wine from southwestern France, cava from Spain, and prosecco from Italy. Definitely southwestern France and Argentina for whites.

To speak with Diane, contact the Cape Cod Package Store (1495 Falmouth Road, Centerville, 508-775-2065, capecodpackagestore.com).

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