You’ve been planning this since you were too little to recite your ABCs. You’ve got your dress all picked out; the flowers have been ordered; and you even know how your hair is going to be done. But have you picked out your wine?
The right wine can be just as important as all the other details on your big day. There is no reason picking a wine for your wedding shouldn’t be anything but fun. Grab a glass and follow these steps to pick the perfect wine for your wedding:
What kind of wine to serve:
How many wines you serve will depend on how big your reception is. If you’re planning something smaller--just hors d'oeuvres and a toast--there’s no need to have more than a red, a white and a champagne for toasting.
Wedding planner Melissa Panico advises that you have one red and white for cocktails, a different red and white for dinner and a champagne for toasting if you're planning on serving a meal in addition to cocktails.
Taste, taste taste:
Get out there and start tasting as early as you can. Check out wine tastings at local markets, wine shops and wineries, or invite your girlfriends over and pop open a couple bottles. You’re going to be drinking at the wedding too so “make sure and pick something you like,” advises Panico.
Don’t forget to think about your menu. Bring a few of your finalists with you to your menu tasting. Or, ask the chef/catering company for recommendations. You might also want to connect with a local purveyor. He can work with you to pick out something in your budget that you will like, but that will also satisfy a crowd.
Panico suggests sauvignon blanc and pinot noir for cocktail hour and something a little richer for dinner. She’s noticed, however, that a newer trend is to serve a rose before dinner.
Get a deal:
Aim to buy “fewer wines in larger quantities.” This will save you money. Wine shops, wineries and even grocery stores tend to give discounts if you buy in bulk. If you already have a wine in mind, or a favorite winery, give them a ring and ask if they offer any special discounts for larger orders. And keep an eye out for sales. If you’ve got a few months before your wedding, chances are someone will have a sale before the big day. Stock up then.
A caution: If you’re planning on getting married at a winery, you should plan on purchasing their wine. Also some catering companies charge a corkage fee. You’ll want to check with them ahead of time.
How much to buy:
Panico suggestions you plan that each guest will drink about four glasses of wine--roughly one bottle--and a little less than 1/2 a glass of champagne for the toast if you're having cocktails and a meal. If you have 50 guests, you’re looking at about 50 bottles of wine and 12 or 13 bottles of champagne.
On frills and being fancy:
One thing you want to remember is that you’re serving a mass of people, and they’ll probably be happy with just about any wine they get. “There are plenty of wines at a reasonable price, $20 to $30 per bottle,” says Panico, who has been planning weddings for over 10 years.
However, if you want to have a little fun, go for it. Some couples have their own labels designed specifically for their wedding. They might say, "Brad and Jo Ann 'forever and always'" or have pictures or other sentimental designs important to the couple. An invitation designer can help you design and print the labels to stick over the bottles. Some wineries, like Windsor Vineyards, will allow you to design your own labels and then they'll stick them on the bottles for you. They make for great party favors, or just save a few for yourself. They’ll be something you appreciate for years to come.