These days couples are more savvy about wines. And, more couples are serving up wines at their weddings. While it is tradition to use champagne for the toast, do not feel obligated. You can serve up a different type of sparkling wine to save a little money and no one will ever know – because champagne is a finer sparkling wine anyway.
But, picking wedding wines is a lot more labor intensive than most couples realize – and if you aren’t smart about it, you can easily blow the wedding budget. So, before you start picking out wines and ordering the glasses, make sure you familiarize yourself with the right wines to stick to the right price.
Deciding How Much Wine to Buy
The first step is finding out how much wine you need so that you can create a wedding wine budget. The rule of thumb is to divide the total number of guests by 2.15. This gives you the number of wedding wine bottles you will need.
So, if you have 100 guests coming, you will need 46 bottles of wine. Now you need to consider how much your per bottle price will be. If you are fine at $10 per bottle, multiple 46 bottles times $10 to get to a budget of $460. If that is too much, you may have to decrease the quality of wine or cut elsewhere. But, for $10 per bottle, you can still find some great wines.
Also, a few other things to remember:
- If you’re serving cocktails, order 30 percent less bottles than the max – because people may have cocktails instead.
- If you need more than 12 bottles, you can purchase by the case and hopefully get a per case discount. For example, if you need 46 bottles and there are 12 bottles to a case, just order four cases to get a discount.
- For summer and outdoor weddings, remember people will want white wine instead of red – white is more refreshing for the heat. Consider serving a sparkling rose instead of the traditional white – it goes great with summer wedding fare.
- For fall, winter and spring weddings, people tend to drink more wine, especially reds. This is because red wines are warming.
What About the Champagne Toast?
For the toast, you need champagne or another sparkling wine. To know how much to buy, divide the guest count by 9. So, if you have 100 guests, you only need a little over 11 bottles of sparkling wine. These are reserved for the toast only – so make sure the bartender knows to keep them separate.
Determining What Types of Wine to Buy
Sparkling wine is for the toast, and you already know what type you need. But, for the rest of the wedding wine, the choice is entirely yours. You will want to take a few things into consideration when picking out your wedding wines, including:
- The types of guests you have attending the wedding. Just because you love red wines doesn’t mean everyone else will. Consider the guest list and see if you have any wine lovers on the list or if they are all wine novices.
- If you are serving rich meat entrees, you will want a full-bodied, rich red wine to go along with it. If, however, you are serving seafood or poultry, you’ll want to stick to a refreshing white wine variety instead.
- Remember the wedding theme, time of year and time of day you’re having your wedding. Black tie events usually have red wines, because they are more sophisticated.
- Don’t forget the cake. Pair up wines with your cakes to make them taste even better. For example, a dry Chardonnay with a lemon zest cake or a vanilla sponge cake with a citrus-based white wine, or a dark merlot with a chocolate cake.
Choosing Red Wines
Red wine is a crowd classic and perfect for weddings. To choose the right red wine, you will have to consider your wedding wine budget:
- For $10 to $15 per bottle – You will want to stick to wine regions that include South Africa, Argentina, Spain, Australia and Chile. These are quality wines that are affordable. Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noirs from these regions are most likely the more affordable versions.
- For $15 to $20 per Bottle – You can buy a lot with this price range, but you will want to develop flavors from different regions. Stick to the crowd favorites such as Malbec, Syrah and Merlot.
- For $20 to $30 per Bottle – Start looking into reserve wines that come from southern France, such as the Chianti, Merlot and Cabernets.
Choosing White Wines
White wines are fruity, full of zest and always a crowd favorite. They are also more affordable than red wines. You can easily find a quality white wine for under $15, so instead of choosing by price, it comes to choosing the flavor profile you want.
- For something zesty – Look to the classic whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Vinho Verde.
- Bolder or oak wines – These usually come from Chile and Spain (for affordability). Look for a chardonnay – they’re always oaked and full of flavor. They are dry, however, so you may want to include a few lighter varieties or avoid this one if you are serving it up in the middle of summer.
Do Not Forget Rose Wines
Roses are becoming popular once again and they offer exceptional variety and flavor. Choose a rose if you are serving seafood or having a summer wedding, because they are very refreshing. Also, if you are doing certain cuisines like Sushi, Thai or Mexican food, you may find a rose pairs nicely with those flavors.
Choosing Your Champagne
For toasting wedding wines, you will want to choose a wine that is of great quality. Poor-quality champagnes have a poor aftertaste and it is easy to spot a shoddy champagne. If your toast is happening outdoors or in the middle of the day, consider a Prosecco, sparkling Rose or Cava. If it is happening at night, go with a sparkling wine such as French Champagne, Blanc de Noirs, or Italian Classico.
No matter what wedding wines you choose, there are plenty of ways to keep the wedding wine under budget and pleasing to the wine lovers on your guest list.
What are your favorite wedding wines? Where did you find the best price for your wine?
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