Many frustrated couples have had their wedding plans dashed or disrupted over the last two years.
Now that almost all COVID restrictions have been lifted, it is expected that there will be a boom in weddings. Under the circumstances, I thought I’d share some thoughts on wedding wines.
Your Wedding Guest List is a Great Place to Start
Of course, you want your guests to have a good time throughout the day. A large part of them doing so is at the reception. Food and wine play an important element of that part in the day.
When couples approach us for wine advice, their biggest problem is that they don’t know where to start. My advice is to sit down with your partner, determine your budget and then examine your guest list to determine drink preferences.
By that I mean, some people don’t drink at all, and others drink a lot. Some only drink beer and not wine. My point is, at the end of the day you know your budget, and what your guests expect.
Considerations When Choosing Your Wedding Wines
First, I would recommend discussing the food options with the caterer before moving on to your beverage selection.
When you do, be careful that you don’t force your personal preferences on everybody. It’s always better to opt for popular tastes rather than eccentric ones. But not necessarily the cheapest on offer either.
Consider the time of day that the reception will commence, and the time of year. I know I’m more likely to pick a red at a winter wedding but can’t pass up a pinot grigio at a summer wedding.
You should also consider the flow of your wedding. Will you have a long break between the ceremony and wedding reception that would suit sparkling wine? Will there be a cocktail hour? A free bar?
Your budget will likely decide whether you take the wines on offer at the venue or whether you bring your own wine with you. This latter option will incur a ‘corkage fee’ so it’s worth discussing this with the venue.
A good rule of thumb is that if the wine costs less than the corkage fee, it is worth going through your caterer.
Wedding Wines and Food Pairing
Seafood, fish, and vegetarian – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or a light, unoaked white, Gavi, Soave or a Spanish white.
Chicken, smoked fish or anything with a creamy sauce - Needs a wine with a bit more body and texture, but with plenty of acidity so Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc would be perfect.
Pork – Can be fatty, so a wine with plenty of acidity, even a touch of apple. Riesling would be a good match.
Lamb – Nothing too tannic or overpowering. A Rhone red with a bit of black peppery spice would go well, so would a new world Syrah/Shiraz.
Beef – Bordeaux is the best bet, or a new world Cabernet Sauvignon would go with a beef dish.
Anything Italian or with a rich tomato sauce – stick to the old adage: 'what’s grown together goes together’ and you won’t go far wrong.
FAQs on Champagne & Wedding Wines
How many glasses do you get from a bottle of Champagne?
Standard Champagne flutes hold 125ml, so you will get 6 glasses from a normal bottle of Champagne.
How many bottles of champagne should we allow for?
For a champagne reception, you should ideally allow 2 glasses per person. So, for 100 guests, you will need 100 x 2 = 200 glasses or approx. 34 bottles.
How many glasses do you get from a bottle of wine?
For weddings, a standard bottle of wine will provide 6 small (125ml) glasses of wine. This can vary depending on the experience of the server, if being poured.
Should we always buy the wine offered from the venue?
Independents such as Green Acres have vast amounts of experience when it comes to helping people choose their wedding wine. Most will also offer free delivery to the venue and help if you have any last-minute hiccups.
How much red & white wine should we budget for?
A common mistake is to panic and over-order. Luckily, many wine merchants and some venues offer a sale or return policy, meaning that you can return anything that has not been drunk. In general, a standard bottle will serve 4/5 glasses, so 1 case of wine (12 bottles) = say 50/60 glasses.
For dinner allow a bottle per person with a little extra just to be sure (you can estimate beer vs wine drinkers and adjust accordingly)! Normally there is an even split between red and white but in summer months, you should allow for more white wine
Don’t forget soft drinks for the drivers and ensure you have enough water for your guests for all-day functions, allow a half litre of water per person.
Simple Steps Towards Planning the Wedding Drinks
As I’ve alluded to, a large part of the planning of any wedding is estimating drinks consumption. This can involve choosing the champagne or prosecco for the reception, the wines for the tables, and finally a spirit/bubbles to toast the speeches.
Alcohol often takes up to 20% of your total wedding budget. With a little bit of planning though, you might be able to stretch the money a little bit further.
A welcome drink. Often at weddings, the welcome drink is something fizzy, a bottle of beer or even low-alcohol drinks. Prosecco, Cava and Crémant make great alternatives to Champagne.
Reception. Most weddings will offer wine as part of the meal. The bottles can be left on each table or have the waiting staff top up everyone’s glasses. One bottle per adult is a good rule of thumb.
The bar. In my view, people tend to go overboard when you offer them anything for free, especially if the amounts are unlimited. Basically, somewhere between a free bar and a cash bar is perfect; you just need to find the most suitable option for your budget.
Toasts. There should be a small glass of Champagne, Cava or Prosecco available for everyone for the toast(s). You don’t have to offer more than a glass, so it might be best for the waiters to serve everyone to make sure there’s enough to go around.
Have coffee and tea available as well as water stations. This will help to cut down on boozing and hopefully help to limit the number of hangovers the next day.
Whatever You Decide – Keep It Simple
While many people attempt to match the wine to the food for their special day, our advice would be to keep it simple. Choose a red and a white (or rosé) for the table that will please most guests.
The wine team in Green Acres continuously work with wedding coordinators, venues, and brides and grooms to be, and provide a no-fuss consultation service that takes the stress out of arranging wine for your special day.
We recommend that you arrange a date to pop in and have a chat about planning the beverages for your special day. Thereafter, you can be confident that you and your guests will have fond memories of your wedding meal and party.
Talk soon - James