Your funeral is a chance for your loved ones to celebrate your life. In her latest article, Sophia Longhi explores how picking the wines for your funeral is like choosing your song – a final way to share a glass or two chosen by you.

Have you ever thought about what music you’d like to be played at your funeral?

Without wanting to sound morbid, it’s something my husband and I talk about now and again. We have music on most of the time at home and when certain songs come on, one of us might remark (with more enthusiasm than is entirely appropriate), “This is my funeral song!”

Is that weird? I don’t think it is; it’s pretty normal to create some control around something so unpredictable as death. Perhaps it’s a way of influencing or crafting how you’ll be remembered. Setting the scene and making your final impact on the world before you become a memory or just a character in an anecdote. Some people like to dictate what their guests will wear to their funeral and might, for instance, say that they don’t want people to dress in black (although, I’d reconsider: everyone looks good in black; it’s chic).

Recently, a thought came to me: why not do the same with wines? Like the songs you would want your loved ones to listen to while they think of you and celebrate your life, there might be certain wines that you’d like them to taste, to experience, to raise high in the air in memory of you. It makes sense to use wine in this way, especially if wine is something of a “love language” for you in life. Wine could be a way of forging connection in death. 

As with choosing the wines for your wedding, it’s about creating a moment and sharing something with the people you love the most – except that your funeral would be the last time you get to do that.

When I chose wines for my wedding, I felt as though I was pairing wines to the different moments of the day, rather than solely for the meal. There was a wine to drink as I got ready with my bridesmaids; there was a wine for our guests to glug post-ceremony; there were different wines at different stages of the meal. It could be the same for a funeral; a different wine for each part of the service.

I’d say that I’d have to start with something sparkling for the entrance part; it’s how I always like to begin an occasion and, really, the only way to make an entrance is with bubbles. A special sparkling wine for me is Franciacorta because it’s what my Italian family have drank for generations in Brescia, where they hail from. However, I also kind of want everyone to be sipping on Krug. I know, I know – we’d have to scrimp on the casket to balance the budget – but Krug is, excuse the pun, heavenly. I’ve been lucky enough to have more than one moment with Krug in my life and it really is the pinnacle of celebration wines. It would be a marvellous way to set the scene and I’m sure a few eyes would roll skyward in thanks. You are welcome, I would whisper from the clouds.

I think the next bit of the order of service is the moment of reflection. I guess you’d have to choose a wine that would remind your friends and family of you and your essence. Maybe a wine that represents your personality, or perhaps a favourite tipple of yours? (If your catchphrase when you’re out and about is “rosé all day!”, there’s your wine.) I’d go for my main wedding wine – the one that we served with the second course of the meal, and one that everyone said they loved. It’s a wine that means something to me and it’s the taste of happy times; the happiest of times. I’d love to crack that open for everyone. 

Then: the committal. You’d need a wine here that has some weight; some depth. Or maybe you’d need a light, wispy wine that floats on the palate and feels like freedom. I might go for the former. How about an earthy, velvety, layered Brunello? One of the momentous wines in my life that made me think “WOW” after asking for a Chianti and getting this in a steakhouse in New York in 2015. Brunello is a real meditation kind of wine. 

Finally, it’s exit time. Something sweet, perhaps, to get the palate and the mind back into focus? I couldn’t leave everyone on a downer – although some people like the idea of that (the more wailing, the better?). I think a sugar hit would be wise, to take everyone onto the party. A sweet Tokaji? A PX, even? Lots of people don’t partake in drinking sweet wines (more fool them), so I like the idea of lightbulbs pinging in their minds and leaving them with this gift.

It’s a common question on personality tests: How do you want to be remembered? We have this thing about “legacy”, don’t we? The truth is, unless we did something truly remarkable in life, like invent the telephone or something, we’ll be pretty much forgotten in a few generations, as everyone who knew us will be gone, too. Wine – and this is what’s cool about it – is something that can connect us through the ages, even beyond the grave. I can taste the same wine as someone from 100 years ago, if it came from the same barrel. Their hands could have made the wine I’m tasting and they are long gone.

Some of my best memories in life started with wine and, for me, the sound of glasses clinking together in a toast is the sound of joy. I’d like to leave my loved ones with that feeling. It’s the last thing you’d get to share with the people who knew you – and even, in years to come, people who didn’t.

How would you choose your funeral wines? Let us know in the comments below.