Couples naturally want their wedding to be perfect, from the fit of the dress to the awe factor of the cake. Highballs and punch ladled from big bowls have long been staples of wedding ceremonies, yet many of today’s brides and grooms seek more sophistication in the beverages they serve at their reception, with wine playing an increasingly large role. Whether you’re planning a party for 20 or 200, the questions are still the same: Which wine should I buy?
Basic wine information: Get to know your seasonal wines
Brisk white wines, dry rosés, and light- to medium-bodied reds are ideal for warm-weather weddings because they offer more refreshment than heavier Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz, and Zinfandel.
Brisk whites include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio, unoaked Chardonnay, Riesling, and sparkling wines.
Medium-bodied reds include Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Italian Valpolicella, Spanish Rioja, and Rhone Valley Côtes du Rhône.
For winter and fall weddings, wines with more weight and power (Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, and the like) pair best with chilly temperatures and rich comfort foods.
What type of wine should I buy?
Although sparkling wine is a wedding fixture, consider also serving one red and one white still wine if the reception includes a meal or hors d’oeuvres. Most wedding planners advocate serving equal amounts of red and white wine—if only so you don’t disappoint half the crowd. For those who want to pour just one wine with the meal, there is a happy compromise: dry rosé, a wine that’s refreshing and also substantial enough to drink with sturdy foods.
Sauvignon Blanc is a super-versatile white that goes splendidly with seafood, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and salads. The citrusy 2008 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc and the pleasantly pungent 2009 Brancott Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand are tremendous values and they’re often discounted. Or go with crowd-pleasing, easy-to-drink Pinot Gris.
Also consider un-oaked or lightly oaked Chardonnays, which are great to sip alone and, with their unadulterated fruit flavors, match a wider range of dishes than the toasty, buttery type of Chardonnay.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red wine in America, and it’s best suited to serving with hearty beef and lamb dishes. There are indeed affordable Cabs made in Napa; look for one that is supple, medium- to full-bodied, and has textbook cassis and cedar Cabernet character.
Silky, earthy Pinot Noir is extremely flexible with many foods, including fish and vegetarian dishes, yet it also pairs nicely with light red meats, pork, and poultry. Pinot can be pricey
Sweet white Zinfandel is fine for casual, at-home quaffing, but weddings call for a more serious pink wine. Dry rosé is crisp and fruity, does not have the sweetness of white Zinfandel and other blush wines, and pairs beautifully with salads, poultry, pork, tuna, salmon, and even sirloin. Rosé also hits the spot in both warm and cool weather, day and night.
How much wine to purchase will depend on various factors, including the number of guests, whether it’s a wine-drinking crowd, the format of the reception, the time of year and time of day, and the menu. Here, some general rules of thumb provided by wedding planners, caterers, and married couples who have been through it already:
It’s better to have too much wine than not enough. Guests grumble when the wine runs out and they still have prime rib on their plate, or if they have an empty glass for the toast. Unopened leftovers can usually be returned to the seller (or taken home, of course).
•The standard 750-ml wine bottle holds 25 ounces; count on five servings of wine, at five ounces each, from one bottle. For sparkling wines served in flutes, allow for four ounces per serving (plus foam), which equals six servings per bottle.
• Most caterers count on each guest consuming one-half bottle of wine—roughly two glasses—every two hours. If the party lasts four hours, count on one 25-ounce bottle per person. These calculations allow for the fact that some folks will drink more, some less, and some not at all. One bottle each might seem like a lot of wine, yet many attendees want to sample everything, even though they don’t drain their glasses (half your wine may sit at the end of the night in half-empty cups).
Please note: Buying wine in bulk—by the case—can save you money. But not all venues or caterers allow the client (you) to choose or bring the wine, so check with everyone involved before purchasing.
For more information or helpful tips for your wedding, contact LimeLight Expressions.