Whether it be Cote du Rhone at the rehearsal dinner or a Champagne toast at the reception, there’s a perfect wine for your wedding day. While there is a lot of wisdom and guidance out there about fine wine, the most important thing is that the wine is part of the celebration, so don’t get too caught up in discussions of traditional pairings or rules. At the end of the day, the best wine to serve at your wedding is a wine that you and your guests will enjoy drinking.
That said, there is a lot to consider when it comes to logistics. How much beer and wine should you buy for a wedding? Is there a suitable Champagne alternative? You want to serve wine that will account for the different tastes of your guests, pair well with the menu, and fit the overall theme of the wedding. You also want to make sure you have enough for the evening.
So what factors should you consider when considering the best wine to serve at your wedding?
The wine on offer should enhance your chosen menu. We’ve all heard the wisdom that red wine goes with red meat, while white wine goes with chicken and fish. That’s not always true; there are many red wines and white wines that pair very well with all sorts of meals, so don’t feel bound by old-school convention. At the end of the day, you want to be drinking wine you enjoy.
At a minimum, you should have one red and one white wine. You want each of these to be wines that work in a variety of contexts. Think something like a sauvignon blanc or a pinot noir. These are more mild white and red wines that won’t overpower the flavors of the hors d'oeuvres or food you are serving.
If you plan to have a variety of wine options, then you can offer wines with more distinctive tastes, like merlot or chardonnay, during the appetizers or cocktail hour as well. Then, during the wedding reception, you can do a cabernet sauvignon or a pinot gris to have a wide selection for any wine lover.
If you can swing it, try to choose your wines at the same time that you choose your menu. You could even taste how different wines go with different dishes. Otherwise, for the few months before placing your order, pay attention to different types of wines. Maybe buy a bottle of something you don’t usually drink to see how it tastes. If you have a go-to favorite wine, then try drinking it with the type of entree at your wedding and see if you like the pair. There’s a lot of wine out there, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
If you want to go beyond a red and a white, then try to find wines that pair with your wedding theme. You can have wines from a specific location, like Australia or Lebanon, to honor the heritage of one of the partners, or a wine-based drink like sangria to supplement your cocktail hour. You should also make sure there’s plenty of sparkling wine for toasts. Think about the kind of wedding you’re hosting. A summer wedding, for example, should have plenty of white wine. For brunch weddings, consider offering rosé, which is very popular right now. For a winter wedding or an indoor wedding, lean more heavily on red wine. You want the wedding wine to fit the wedding atmosphere in general.
Nobody wants to run out of wine at their wedding. That said, you also don’t want to lug multiple unopened cases of wine home that night either.
About half a bottle per guest is generally a good rule of thumb. If you’re having a smaller wedding with fifty or so guests, you can tailor this more specifically to your knowledge of how many guests will drink heavily or lightly. The thought here is that guests will be drinking wine at the cocktail hour and then might have one or two glasses with their meal, which could mean three glasses per guest. That’s a lot of wine!
Some other factors to consider include the time of day of your wedding, the age of your guests, and how many hours your event will be. If most of your guests are under 40 (but over 21!), chances are they might drink more heavily. At evening weddings, perhaps unsurprisingly, guests often consume more wine than they do at morning weddings. Likewise, a wedding that lasts six hours requires more wine than a wedding that lasts four hours. So start with half a bottle per guest, then round up or down based on your knowledge of the event and the guests.
The proportions also matter. For indoor weddings, about 50 percent of your wine should be red, 40 percent white, and then the rest enough Champagne to cover a toast (divide your guests by about eight to decide how many bottles). At outdoor weddings, guests tend to opt for more white Windsor rosé as well, so that will change your proportions, too.
Buying wine at your wedding can be tough. Everyone wants to serve the best wine at their wedding, and everyone wants to purchase the right amount of wine. These guidelines will ensure you serve the best wine at your wedding, and you and your guests enjoy the special beverage throughout the entire event.