Flower girl and ring bearer. Bouquet and veil. Wedding reception and wine selection. Rarely do you see one of these without the other. But there are a whole lot of decisions to consider when ordering bottles for your reception. That’s why we chatted with David Skurnik, one of the proprietors of The Pinot Project (who wined up our Zola Retreat a few weeks back) to help answer our questions.
1. How do you decide how much wine to order for a wedding reception?
If you’re getting married at a full-service wedding venue, they should have you covered on this front. But, if you’re bringing all the wine to your own reception, like my wife and I did, assume you’ll need roughly half as many bottles as people attending your wedding, split 50/50 between white and red. If you’ve got a really fun crowd coming to your party, you might even want to have a few extra bottles behind the bar. The last thing you want is to run out of wine!
You should also have at least one bottle of sparkling wine for every four guests, as everyone will have a glass for toasts. Plus, it’s always nice to greet your guests before the ceremony with a bit of bubbly, too.
2. Does seasonality matter? Can you serve rose at a fall and/or winter wedding? Or is it more about the location?
Yes, in the sense that your guests may change their preferences based on the season. Lighter bodied wines are better suited for the spring or summer, while richer and bolder wines are normally served in the fall and winter. I would only serve Rose at a wedding between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but remember, it’s your party! Serve what you like to drink. My wife and I served an Italian red wine, Rosso di Montalcino, at our reception, because it was a vineyard we had visited together and was special to us.
3. Ordering wine in bulk seems difficult—everyone’s taste buds are different. What are some crowd-pleasers?
That’s for sure, and most couples are only going to get to select one white and one red. I say stick to fan favorites that are fruit-forward and dry. You don’t want anything that is sweet or generally divisive. For white, something crisp, light and clean will be a crowd pleaser. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or an unoaked Chardonnay are solid choices. When it comes to Chardonnay specifically, I recommend you steer clear of anything oaky and buttery, which is unfortunately what most catering venues serve these days. For red, something juicy with a silky tannin is a good bet, like a Pinot Noir, Malbec, or Cabernet Sauvignon.
4. What role does the catering menu play in wine choices? Should the number of guests asking for chicken and steak affect the ratio of white wine to red wine that you order?
You should think about your menu when you’re choosing your wines because you want to select wines that complement the dinner rather than combat it. If everybody sends back their RSVP card checking off steak, you might want to order a few extra bottles of red, but everyone has their own preferences, so you should be safe with a 50/50 split. If you choose light-bodied, drier wines, they will likely pair with most menu selections anyway. Also, think beyond the protein. Sometimes it’s the sauce that matters most in a wine pairing.
5. What advice would you give to couples on a budget?
Great wine doesn’t have to be expensive. There are high quality wines at every price point if you know what you’re looking for. The Pinot Project retails for about $12-15 a bottle and sincerely is a brand that most guests will enjoy, as it combines quality, value, great design, and fun. I would also say, nobody has ever been to a dry wedding that was really fun, so don’t cut the alcohol completely!