A Guide to Wine At Your Wedding

A Guide to Wine At Your Wedding

We’ve collaborated with the experts at FirstLeaf to provide you the best tips on how to serve the perfect wine at your wedding. Wondering which wine pairs with a particular protein? We’ve got you! No clue how much wine you’ll need for your guests? We’ve got the formulas to help you to decide exactly how much vino to purchase. Read on for A Guide To Wine At Your Wedding.

Do The “Research”

There’s a trick to choosing the perfect wedding wine: and it is doing “research!” This means you get to taste test several different varieties and wineries to find your favorites. Then choose a few wines you absolutely love. These will be the ones to serve on your special day. The fact that you handpicked the wines will provide a personalized touch.

One good way to make a wedding day your own is to select wines that you have sampled and enjoyed. If you aren’t sure where to start, you could go to a tasting at a local wine shop, visit a local winery, or consider a wine club subscription like Firstleaf.

Of course, there are some requirements — like pairing your picks with the right food and making sure you buy enough bottles. But this handy guide will answer all the technical questions you may have so you can get back to the fun part: Wine.

Choose the Perfect Wedding Wine

The perfect wedding wine is something that can be enjoyed by novice wine drinkers and enthusiasts alike. At a large event like a wedding, the food flavors are typically a bit muted. Every table will have a picky eater or two, or someone who can’t handle spice. Similarly, a wedding isn’t the best time to experiment with oddball pairings or exceptionally strong wines. 

A wedding wine should also pair with the main entree or entrees you are serving. If you are giving guests a choice of entree, you’d ideally give them a choice of wine as well. 

One strong principle of wine pairing is place-specific food pairings. An entree featuring bright Mediterranean flavors like lemon should be paired with wine from that region or one with a similar climate like Napa Valley. Likewise, an entree featuring beef should be paired with wine from a region where cattle are raised like Argentina or Eastern Washington.

To Pair With Poultry

The best wedding wine pairing with poultry depends on the flavors of your specific dish. Serving chicken with a tomato-based sauce? A red wine from Italy could be a good choice.  Another consideration is the mix of white and dark meat. If you are serving dark meat, which tends to have a deeper flavor, you might want to consider a wine with stronger flavors like a chardonnay. If you are serving only chicken breast, the lighter flavors of pinot grigio may be a better choice. 

Beef

Beef’s deep, intense flavor calls for a full-flavored wine to match. Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic pairing with beef. If you decide to go with a cab sav you won’t lack options as nearly every wine-growing region offers one. By going with such a popular wine, you could easily choose one from a place that has special meaning for you as a couple, making the choice even more personalized.

If you’re looking for other options, consider this rule of thumb: the fattier the cut, the stronger the wine should be. Lean steaks like sirloin would benefit from a more subtle flavor. If you’re having a fatty cut like prime rib, go bold.

Seafood

All fish are not created equal so the old “white wine with fish” rule isn’t necessarily one to follow. Fattier, stronger flavored fish like salmon or mahi-mahi pair well with lighter red wines such as pinot noir. If you do prefer a white wine with one of these stronger flavored fish, go for a stronger white, like a chardonnay. The sauce is a consideration as well. A stronger-flavored sauce, like teriyaki, might call for a stronger-flavored wine.

Mild fish like cod or halibut are best when paired with white wine. As with chicken, consider playing off the flavors that go along with the dish. Light Mediterranean flavors like lemon and herbs might call for a lighter wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. If a stronger flavor is being used, a stronger white like a Riesling may be an option.

Pork

There’s no hard and fast rule for pairing wine with pork. Still, pork is more delicately flavored than beef and has hints of sweetness that a strong wine will overpower. Pairings for pork should occupy a middle ground. Medium-bodied red wines like Merlot are as strong as you should consider for fattier cuts like ham or ribs. And for leaner cuts, don’t go any lighter than a medium-bodied white such as Pinot Grigio.

Vegetarian

The perfect pairing for a vegetarian main dish will match the heartiness of the wine with the heartiness of the vegetable. Seasonality is an important consideration as well.

Hopefully, you’re able to use local, in-season vegetables — which will help drive your choice. At a winter wedding, you’ll probably want a warm, hearty wine. And root vegetables, an ideal pairing, will be the freshest ones available. Consider a dish heavy in root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and squash — or a deep-flavored bean stew. Sounds hearty, right? And both would be terrific with a popular red wine like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, or syrah

If you’re having a warm-weather wedding, delicate vegetables like local greens and in-season fruits would make for the best vegetarian main, and you’d probably want to stick with white wine. A salad with local fresh fruit would pair well with a wine with fruit notes to match like Riesling. 

Pair by Season

The time of year ought to play into both your choice of food and your choice of wine. At fall or winter weddings, there’s a good chance your guests will be coming in out of the cold, shedding their overcoats, and looking for a way to warm up. A hearty meal paired with a red wine like a Syrah or Tempranillo will brighten their mood. A light salad and a fruity white wine may not have the same effect.

Spring is a temperate time of year, and a good time to sample wines from the warmer growing regions. Areas like California, Australia, and Spain enjoy a perpetual spring and produce bright wines to match. 

If you’re having an indoor summer wedding with the benefit of air conditioning, your food choices should drive your wine selection choices. 

For an outdoor summer wedding, you should keep in mind that your guests are likely to be hot. A wine that can be chilled — White, Rose, or Sparkling — is an easy choice for sipping during the whole reception. But for the foodservice (depending on your main course) you may want to have something bolder on hand. If you’re serving steak, you’ll want some full-bodied reds like cabernet sauvignon or merlot to pair. 

How Much Wine Will You Need?

The amount of wine you should buy for your wedding depends on several factors.

  • Number of guests attending (and also drinking)
  • Duration of the wedding/reception
  • Whether you are serving other alcoholic beverages

To start with, figure out how many alcoholic beverages you’ll need overall. The basic rule of thumb for any celebration is 2 drinks per person for the first hour, and 1 drink per person for every hour thereafter.

So, if you were having a 4-hour reception for 100 adults, you could expect to serve 200 drinks in the first hour, and a further 100 drinks each in hours 2, 3, and 4: 500 drinks.

Of course, you may have reasons to adjust that estimate. If your reception is in the middle of the day rather than the evening, you can expect people to drink a little less. And if you know that a certain portion of the guest list doesn’t drink at all, you can bring your estimate down (of course, you’ll want to provide them with non-alcoholic options). 

How much wine should you buy if you’re only serving wine?

If you’re only serving wine, figure on about a bottle per person for a longer event (four hours or more).

How do you choose a mix of red and white?

Choose the mix of red and white based on the time of year, and the food you’re planning to serve. A light meal of chicken during a summer outdoor wedding? You might almost exclusively select white wines. Serving prime rib in the middle of winter? Going red-heavy would make more sense. 

How much wine should you buy if you’re also serving beer?

If you’re also serving beer at your wedding, figure on about 1 bottle of wine for every 2 guests for a longer event (four hours or more). People will likely enjoy beer before dinner, then switch to wine with their meal. You should have at least enough for everyone to have two glasses of wine with dinner. 

How much wine should you buy if you’re serving beer and cocktails?

If you’re serving beer, wine, and cocktails at your wedding, providing 1 bottle of wine for every 4 guests should be sufficient. This will provide enough wine for everyone to enjoy a glass with dinner and some overage for those who prefer wine above all else. 

How many glasses of wine in a bottle?

A normal 750-milliliter bottle of wine has five glasses of wine. A case of wine contains 12 bottles or approximately 60 glasses of wine.

Example: How many bottles of wine

do you need for 100 guests?

Let’s take a real-world example: A 100-adult reception, including a cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing, lasting approximately four hours.

How many guests will be drinking?

Let’s say that you know for a fact that 15 people on the guest list don’t drink. That takes our number of drinking guests down to 85.

Based on the guidelines above, 85 drinkers at a 4-hour party can be expected to drink 2 drinks per person in the first hour, and 1 drink every hour thereafter. So we’ll be serving 

170 drinks (2 x 85) during hour 1, and 

255 drinks (3 x 85) during hours 2, 3, and 4 (1 per person per hour) 

The total number of drinks we need to provide is 170 + 255 or 425 drinks.

Are you serving other drinks?

Let’s say we also plan to offer a specialty cocktail, and, because our guests are big beer fans, purchase two different kegs of beer. We should assume 1 cocktail per person, so that’s 85 drinks. A 15.5-gallon keg contains 124 pints of beer for a total of 248. Between our specialty cocktail and our beer, we’ve taken care of 333 drinks. 

That would leave us with 92 drinks to come from wine or about 18 bottles of wine.

Are you serving a meal?

If you’re serving a meal, especially a sit-down meal with a thoughtfully-considered wine pairing, you may want to assume that guests will drink at least two glasses while they eat. So, in the case of our example, even though our calculator tells us that we only need 92 drinks of wine, we may want to stock enough for everyone to have those two glasses, and plan on 170 glasses of wine or 34 bottles.

Is your wedding in the afternoon or evening?

People tend to drink less at afternoon events than during evening events. At a lunch reception, one glass of wine with the meal is probably all that most people will want. So we might revise our wine estimate down to 85 drinks (1 per person) or 17 bottles of wine.

How many bottles of champagne do you need for a toast?

Champagne and other sparkling wines are sold in 750-milliliter bottles just like regular wine. And just like regular wine, you can count on approximately 5 full glasses of wine per bottle. 

But you don’t need or want a full pour for a champagne toast — only enough for a sip or two. A light pour, approximately halfway, is all that’s needed. So, for a champagne toast, you’ll need about 1 bottle for every 10 drinking guests. For a 100-person event that would mean 10 bottles of sparkling wine.

Example: How many bottles of wine do you need for 100 guests?

Let’s take a real-world example: A 100-adult reception, including a cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing, lasting approximately four hours.

How many guests will be drinking?

Let’s say that you know for a fact that 15 people on the guest list don’t drink. That takes our number of drinking guests down to 85.

Based on the guidelines above, 85 drinkers at a 4-hour party can be expected to drink 2 drinks per person in the first hour, and 1 drink every hour thereafter. So we’ll be serving 

170 drinks (2 x 85) during hour 1, and 

255 drinks (3 x 85) during hours 2, 3, and 4 (1 per person per hour) 

The total number of drinks we need to provide is 170 + 255 or 425 drinks.

Are you serving other drinks?

Let’s say we also plan to offer a specialty cocktail, and, because our guests are big beer fans, purchase two different kegs of beer. We should assume 1 cocktail per person, so that’s 85 drinks. A 15.5-gallon keg contains 124 pints of beer for a total of 248. Between our specialty cocktail and our beer, we’ve taken care of 333 drinks. 

That would leave us with 92 drinks to come from wine or about 18 bottles of wine.

Are you serving a meal?

If you’re serving a meal, especially a sit-down meal with a thoughtfully-considered wine pairing, you may want to assume that guests will drink at least two glasses while they eat. So, in the case of our example, even though our calculator tells us that we only need 92 drinks of wine, we may want to stock enough for everyone to have those two glasses, and plan on 170 glasses of wine or 34 bottles.

Is your wedding in the afternoon or evening?

People tend to drink less at afternoon events than during evening events. At a lunch reception, one glass of wine with the meal is probably all that most people will want. So we might revise our wine estimate down to 85 drinks (1 per person) or 17 bottles of wine.

How many bottles of champagne do you need for a toast?

Champagne and other sparkling wines are sold in 750-milliliter bottles just like regular wine. And just like regular wine, you can count on approximately 5 full glasses of wine per bottle. 

After all this wine talk, you probably will need a Cake Break. Check out some of our tasty blogs on inspirational wedding cakes:

CAKE BREAK: Mini Wedding Cakes are Perfect for 2021

CAKE BREAK: Jaw-dropping Wedding Cakes From Around the World

CAKE BREAK: Inspiring Summer Wedding Cakes

Leave a Reply