Michigan Wines: Where to Begin?

At the risk of dedicating too many entires on what we’ll be drinking on our wedding day, we set about tackling yet another: the wines!

It’s not that we’re overly focused on drinking our way through the day. When it comes to homegrown adult beverages, Michigan simply excels. As the nation’s fourth largest grape producer and the state ranked fifth for the most microbreweries, the craft beer and wine options are aplenty here. As a state, we’re just really good at making really great drinks from scratch. And as a couple with a Michigan-themed wedding, we owe it to our collective heritage spend a goodly time picking out the best of the best. (Right? Right.)

Girls' weekend in Traverse City! This is the "before" picture. I've promised not to publish any of the "after" shots.

So let’s start from the top: the toasting champagne. I recently spent a super fun weekend with my girlfriends in Traverse City celebrating our year of 30th birthdays in style. I had a secret plan to scout out wedding wines during our wine tour. It took all of two samples at the very first winery, Chateau Chantal, for me to decide on the spot what we’d be toasting to: the Chateau’s Tonight Sparkling Wine.

It’s not that I didn’t try any others. Believe you me, I have had my share of “champagnes,” and I knew instantly this one was the one. It’s a dry sparkling wine,

This is tasty stuff. Cheers!

which I like, but fruity as well. Often dry champagnes are so extreme they actually taste like nothing but dryness and acidity, which is no good. Plus, the place was beautiful, I was with my best friends, so what more shopping around did I need to do? I did, for the sake of democracy, buy a bottle to bring home so Mike could try it. He sipped a glass, gave it his approval, and opened a bottle of Dark Horse Raspberry Ale as I drank the rest of the champagne myself. Perfect.

So what about the other wines for the night? There are so many to choose from that we decided to start with wines that had some sort of meaning for us. For example, one of our first dates was to Uncle John’s Cider Mill in St. Johns where we sampled wines from the Fruit House Winery. We recently returned to the Uncle John’s stand in the Lansing City Market to buy a couple to consider for the wedding. We chose the Harvest Peach and the Concord Michigan Table Wine.

Uncle John's is known for their apple cider, but they're not doing to badly in the grape department either.

Now, I’m a dedicated red wine consumer, and I typically like my reds dry and full-bodied. The exception is concord grape wines. Yes, they are sweet, but they taste just like the grape jam from a perfect PB&J sandwich. The Uncle John’s version is no exception. It’s sweet and fun – two adjectives we’re hoping will be a good fit for our wedding day.

Finally (I mean, I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you), there is a grouping of wines that is probably my favorite go-to Michigan wines that must be included: the Leelanau Cellars‘ Season Wines. They come in Autumn Harvest, Spring Splendor, Winter White and Summer Sunset. I’m not going to lie: I started buying these because they’re $6.99. I keep buying them for every occasion possible, however, because they’re delicious. The Autumn Harvest is my favorite, but even a red wine lover like myself

Delicious. Cheap. Michigan made. All of my favorite things.

will choose the Spring Splendor whenever the mood for a white strikes.

Those are our picks. Really, I could go on and on. Though these are our (my) favorites, we are certainly still open for suggestion. Any thoughts on other Michigan wines we should consider?

P.S. Just so you’re aware, I wrote the entire wine entry above in the voice of Lynne Rossetto Kasper. If you didn’t read it this way, you might want to consider starting from the beginning and trying again.

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