How To Choose Your Wedding Wine

wedding wine insolence + wine

Every now and then, we receive e-mails or comments with wine-related questions. Kimberly, who is getting married in July, asked that all-important question about how much wine she might expect to need for her wedding. 

“Hi! I am newly engaged and feverishly planning my July wedding. The dress, venue and menu have all been chosen. My caterer just threw a bomb in my direction asking me which wines I will be serving. I don’t know what to choose. Help!”

Never fear, Kimberly! This is a little something we know a bit about. 

We were advised to select two white wines, two red wines, and of course a sparkling wine for toasts. Wine is always a matter of taste, but to do your best to accommodate your guests’ palates, choose one light, fruity white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc and a heavier, more full-bodied, for example, a Chardonnay. For your red wine selection, choose a medium-bodied red, such as Grenache, Zinfandel or Merlot, and a full-bodied like a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec or Syrah. Because your wedding is in the middle of the summer, you certainly could choose a nice rosé as your light-bodied red wine choice.

Don’t forget the sparkling wine for that never-ending round of toasts. 

Of course you need to taste those wines yourself, and if you don’t want to carry the weight of that selection on your shoulders, may I suggest you bring some of the wedding party with you on a wine tasting adventure? 

Now the more difficult question: How much wine do I need? There are a few variables to consider here—is wine the only alcoholic beverage you are serving? Will you be serving beverages to guests before the ceremony? Will you be serving wine during the break between the ceremony and your dinner? Are you also serving beer or mixed drinks? 

choosing your wedding wine insolence + wine

At my wedding, we started out with the guideline of 2-1/2 bottles per person (we had an hour between dinner and the ceremony, so guests could choose from the wines we’d selected). Our dinner was a sit-down dinner, so each table had a wine glass at each place setting, and guests took their glass to a bar and made their selection from our chosen wines. Of course there was dancing and more libations, and after dinner the wait service crew offered a sparkling wine flute to each guest and poured a serving of sparkling wine. 

We ran out of wine. Let’s just say we had more wine drinkers than beer drinkers, and said wine drinkers very much liked our selections. Fortunately our wedding was at a winery so getting more was quite simple!  

So how many servings do you get out of each 750 milliliter/25.4 ounce bottle? Of course it depends on the amount poured. You can agree on a pour amount with your wait and bar staff beforehand—most have received training in estimating pour amounts. You can get as little as four glasses (a 6.4 ounce or 192 milliliters), five glasses (5.1 ounces or 153 milliliters) or six glasses (4.2 ounces or 126 milliliters). Of course you don’t want a very large oversized red wine glass as your stemware—a 4-ounce pour would look ungenerous in a bowl that large! 

And here’s some advice you didn’t ask for: for pre-wedding festivities, such as showers or rehearsal dinners, keep it light and don’t encourage overconsumption—aromatic white wines are summery and relatively low in alcohol! For a summer wedding shower, choose a fruity, palate-pleasing white (Riesling) or a refreshing rosé over heavier fare, or think about a creative sparkling wine cocktail or a fruit-filled sangria. Depending on your menu for your rehearsal dinner (we had artisan pizza prepared in wood-fired ovens), keep it simple and limit your guests’ choices. Don’t want to be feeling the pain of over imbibing on that special day, do you! Keep it simple—beer, a nice white that pleases most people (Moscato usually) and a medium-bodied red like Grenache.

Most of all, have fun when making all of your selections. Yes, you want to please your guests, but it’s more important that you are pleased with your choices. Let us know how it goes, and we hope this helps!

Are you getting married soon? What are you most nervous about? If you're already married and serve wine to your guests, how did you go about selecting your wine?