Wedding Wine – How to Pick the Best For Your Wedding

Choosing Wine for Your Wedding

Most people associate weddings with Champagne; it is the customary choice for wedding toasts. But wines are just as customary and should be considered with care when planning your reception menu. Even if your knowledge of wine is limited, it can be easy to select the right wine for your wedding reception.

Choosing the wine is an important detail, one that should not be overlooked. You sample the food and the cake, why would you not sample the wine? An experienced caterer will have many wine options to share with you while you are sampling their dinner and appetizer menu. Keep in mind; you are not limited to the selection provided by your caterer. Sometimes, going on your own with your wine purchase can save you money on your overall reception bill (we’ll discuss that more later). Whatever you choose, make sure that you sample the choices and pick the wine that you feel is going to be the best compliment to your wedding.

Where to begin?

First, we must admit that it’s impossible to give advice on selecting wine that will work for everyone. Which wines you choose for your wedding and how much you order depends on many factors; here are a few things to consider when deciding on wine for your wedding:

Your Guests:

What kind of wine do you like? How about your friends and family? Do they prefer red, white, rosé, sparkling, or a dessert wine? Would your guests enjoy one or two really nice glasses of wine to sip as they socialize? Or, is wine not that important to your guests?


What are you serving for dinner? The heavier and more flavorful the dish, the more full-bodied and complex the wine can be. So if you are serving beef in a hearty sauce, then by all means, bring on the Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux. If you are serving a delicate white fish, you should offer a light bodied white – a Sauvignon Blanc would be the perfect choice.

White wine top picks: Don’t overlook Sauvignon Blanc, a super-versatile white that goes splendidly with seafood, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and salads.
Red wine top picks: Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red wine in America, built best for hearty meats.

Don’t forget Rosé: Dry rosé is crisp and fruity, without the sweetness of white zinfandel and other blush wines, and pairs beautifully with salads, poultry, pork, tuna, salmon, and even sirloin. Rosé is perfect in both warm and cool weather, day and night and is a favorite for weddings.

Time of Year:

Is your reception scheduled for the middle of summer or the dead of winter? The season could make a difference in what wine you decide to serve your guests-are you trying to warm them up or cool them off? If you are hosting an outdoor reception and the weather is expected to be warm, plan accordingly and serve a refreshing, lighter wine like a Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc, rather than a heavy Chardonnay. For red wine drinkers, you might offer a Grand Cru Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir. You might even consider a dry rosé.

Other things to consider:

Are you a novice to selecting wine?

Here are some tried and true wine suggestions:

Two wines that go very well with many different types of foods and that can be served year-round are Sauvignon Blanc for a white and, among reds, Pinot Noir. Both of these are lighter in body and less fruity than Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. They’re also excellent when served as aperitifs.

Unless you know your guests will enjoy your creative selection of wines, stick with what people know and love best — a white such as Chardonnay or a Chardonnay-based wine and a red such as Merlot. If you prefer to veer just a little bit off the beaten path, try a light, food-friendly white such as Sauvignon Blanc and a red Zinfandel.

Which varietals do you want to serve?

You may want to cater to guests’ expectations. Many of your guests who drink wine regularly may limit their choices to what they are familiar with. If you want to ensure that guests will have a wine they are familiar with, then your whites should be Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc and your reds should be Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

Want to try something a little different?

Wine is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated, why not try something fun! Why not offer your guests a new experience? Have a wine tasting with your friends before the event or go to a local wine bar and enjoy some new varietals. In whites, consider a Riesling, Muscadet, Pinot Gris or Semillion. In reds, be sure to taste a Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah or Rioja.

Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Weddings are all about celebration, and so is champagne and sparkling wine. Be sure you have enough on hand to have at least one reception toast. Read more about selecting champagne for your wedding toast on our Tips and Advice page.

How much do I buy and what will I spend?

You don’t have to spend a fortune to serve terrific wines at your wedding. The wine world is enjoying a boom in quality these days, so there are plenty of first-rate, inexpensive ones to choose from. Premium bottles can be as low as $7, ranging to more than $30 a bottle.

Wine will likely represent about 15 percent of your overall reception budget. If you arrange for your caterer to provide the wine, it will typically be included as part of the bar bill. If you purchase from your caterer, expect to pay about twice retail on each bottle that’s served. This is standard for both restaurants and caterers; the increase covers service and helps with food costs. 강남풀싸롱
Couples who decide to serve wine they’ve bought themselves should anticipate a possible corkage fee from the caterer; this fee covers opening and pouring. Still, buying your own wine can save you money: A $20 bottle with a caterer’s markup will cost you $40, whereas your own $20 bottle with a $15 corkage fee will cost $35. Also, most retailers offer discounts for purchases of cases of wine and champagne.

Will you buy wine from the caterer or pay a corkage fee to bring in your own? This depends entirely on your budget and tastes. In some cases, caterers will offer a great selection of high quality wines that might meet your needs perfectly. In other cases, corkage fees can vary wildly, and if you can find a wine you like at a good price (find a local wholesaler), it may be worth it to purchase by the case and pay the fee.

To determine the number of bottles to buy, a good rule of thumb is to allot anywhere from a half to three-quarters of a bottle per person, assuming that most guests will drink two glasses with dinner. Most bottles serve about 5 glasses of wine. There is some debate of whether more white or red wine gets consumed at wedding. Take into consideration your menu and time of year of your wedding when deciding the ratio of white to red. If the wines will also be served with cocktails, double that amount. Guests will likely enjoy a glass or two before sitting down to dine.

The final touch

Your wine choice can also provide an opportunity to further personalize your wedding. For instance, you might serve the wine that you had on your first date or the kind your parents drank on their wedding day. Depending on where you’ll be holding your reception, you could choose a wine from a local vineyard, or pick one from a favorite vacation spot or your honeymoon destination.


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