Wine at your wedding. What and how much?

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By Jimmy Quaile, Certified Sommelier

When you are deciding on wine to be served at your wedding there are a few things to consider. First and foremost is how much you will need. A 750ml bottle of wine has a little over 25 ounces, that’s 5 glasses. A 1.5L bottle is double that ~ 10 glasses. Most stores will allow you to return unopened/undamaged bottles, so take that into account if you choose the larger format. It may not be a saving since there is the potential for more waste with 1.5L bottles.

The rule of thumb is one glass per person, per hour. Granted, with the likelihood that you will also be serving spirits and beer, you have to give an educated guess as to the number of wine drinkers that will be attending. But be careful; The “Most of my friends drink beer” logic can get you into trouble.

So let’s use an easy 100 guest example for a four hour event. A realistic estimate is 60 people drinking wine. 60 X 4 = 240 glasses. Divide that by the 5 glasses per bottle and you have 48 bottles (750ml). That is 4 cases of wine. (12 bottles in a case)

Now the decision as to what kind. Unless you are a Sommelier or wine connoisseur your guests are not expecting a wine tasting event. Pick one white and one red. It might sound nice to offer two whites and two reds, but unless you just load up on all the wines you most certainly will run out of one…or two. (That is however, a good idea for the rehearsal dinner!)

If you prefer a slightly sweet white, make the other a dry red. Or the reverse ~ if you choose a sweet red, the other should be a dry white. Keep in mind the time of year. People do drink more white wine in summer.

Whites:  I do not recommend a wine that is too sweet like Moscato, because it’s such a terrible match with any food except dessert. Riesling is a good choice. It has enough sweetness to please a sweet wine drinker yet pairs well with food. A good dry white is a Pinot Grigio (the mainstream choice) or Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re feeling adventurous or want to be a little more unique, there are delicious whites from Italy (Verdicchio ), or Spain (Albarino) that are fabulous and should be more popular than they are.

Reds:  There are a lot of wines in a category called red blends. They can be all over the board, from sweet to dry. Try a couple before deciding.

A good dry red choice is Merlot ( the mainstream choice), Pinot Noir or Malbec. All three will please most red wine drinkers. Cabernet can be a good choice but has, in my opinion too many variables in style. Merlot has a similar profile, is typically more approachable when young and pleases a wide range of tastes.

Now for the Toast: You will be able to get more glasses, about 8-10, from a bottle of sparkling wine because it is typically poured into tapered glasses called “flutes”. Keep in mind that you will need one glass for every guest, and some might want more than one, so add a few bottles to your calculation. “Real” Champagne (i.e. From the Champagne region of France) can be expensive. A good alternative is Cava from Spain or Prosecco from Italy.  Both are delicious and are terrific values.

Important Note: Instruct your venue to NOT open the sparking wine too early and have it sitting on the tables getting warm and flat throughout the cocktail hour. Pour and distribute 10 or 15 minutes before the toast.

Having said all that…if you LOVE a certain wine, by all means pour it at your wedding. That wine, no matter how cheap or expensive will never be more delicious than drinking it on your special day surrounded by family and friends. 

Wine at your wedding. What and how much?
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