By Jaimie Schoen

More than just something to drink, wine pairings at weddings elevate entertainment.

As couples seek ways to enhance their weddings, to transorm that special day into an experience their guests will remember and treasure for years to come, they are turning to caterers and beverage directors to elevate dining, whether it's crafting a custom menu full of family recipes or finding that perfect sip that ties it all together. And there's no better way to augment a meal than with expertly paired wines.

Garo Eldemir, Director of Beverage for Global Gourmet Catering in San Francisco, has spent the past 25 years doing exactly that for his clients. He explains, "With weddings, it's all about heightening the guest's experience with attention to detail. And when a perfect pairing happens, when you find true synchronicity between a glass of wine and a bite of food, you feel it in all of your senses."

Serving wine at weddings has come a long way from "red with meat, white with fish." As his clients go about planning their menu, Eldemir works closely with the chef to examine every ingredient and every flavor. "We begin with the wines that clients like and dislike, as well as the menu options they're considering, and we customize every detail," Eldemir says. From altering flavors to match a wine variety the couple loves, to introducing an unfamiliar wine to bring out the best in a dish, the dining experience is curated from all angles. Champagne rules, but Eldemir encourages his clients to extend the pairing and exploration to dessert as well, whether it's a cheese station offering small glasses of Port or Madeira alongside Stilton or fresh goat cheese Sauternes with apple tarte tatin.

And it's not just serving a glass along with dinner: Pairing wine has been translated into interactive entertainment. "We work directly with a number of California vineyards, and if it's a small enough winery, we can bring the winemaker to the wedding to oversee a tasting station," says Eldemir. "It's an intimate and eye-opening conversation, because they're not just speaking to the flavors of the wines – they're telling you what the dirt is like and the name of the person who picked the grapes." He encourages couples to use a tasting station as a way to form bonds between guests who might not know one another.

"The epiphany when a sip of wine and a bite of food work together is a great way to form connections between people. And it gives them something to talk about other than the bride and groom!"

If wine is one of your passions – and your reception is on the smaller side – Eldemir loves serving a wine flight during dinner. "It allows guests to try each wine alongside the specified dish, taking them on a flavorful journey and allowing them to go back and forth between the ones they enjoy most," he says. "There is something so beautiful and indulgent about walking into a gorgeous room full of tables set with all the proper glasses. It lets you know that you're in for a transformative evening."

Reprinted from DETAIL, The Dallas Wedding Collective, Volume No. 3, 2016 Edition