Pop the champs and pour some bubbly because we’re about to share all the industry secrets for choosing the best wines for your wedding reception. From how to pair wines with your meal or wedding theme to how much alcohol you’ll need for your wedding and how many bottles of champagne you’ll need for toasts, we’ve got all the answers!
Most brides probably already know that they’ll need some sort of wine at their wedding. But if you’re not a wine connoisseur, selecting a perfect one that feels unique yet affordable can be a bit challenging.
Since one of my favorite wines is a $10 bottle of Moscato with a screw-top, I figured the wine experts over at First Leaf would be much more equipped to help guide you through the wine selection process.
They’ve put together some helpful tips and wine pairings below so keep reading for their expert recommendations and an exclusive discount code to start taste-testing right from home!
What Makes a Good Wedding Wine
A good wedding wine pairs well with your reception meal and has the quality you’d want for such a special event while fitting within your budget.
How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Wine
At a large event like a wedding, choosing a wine is a fine balance between finding something the couple loves but keeping in mind the preferences of their guests. The perfect wedding wine is something that can be enjoyed by novice wine drinkers and enthusiasts alike. It’s typically not the time to try out random pairings or really strong wines.
The exception would be if you were having a small, intimate ceremony of close friends and family. In this case, you can have a little more fun with your drink menu.
How to Pair Wine with Your Wedding Menu
If you’re unsure of what wine you want, you can always refer back to your wedding menu to help you decide. One of the oldest hosting tips is to pair your wine with the food. The idea is to choose wines that will match the type of meat you’re serving and the flavors of the meal. If you are giving guests a choice of entree, you’d ideally give them a choice of wine as well.
The best wedding wine pairing with chicken depends on the flavors of your specific chicken dish. Serving chicken with a tomato-based sauce? A red wine from Italy could be a good choice.
Another consideration is the mix of white and dark meat. If you are serving dark meat, which tends to have a deeper flavor, you might want to consider a wine with stronger flavors like a chardonnay. If you are serving only chicken breast, the lighter flavors of pinot grigio may be a better choice.
The best wedding wine pairing with beef is a Cabernet Sauvignon, which happens to be one of the world’s most popular varietals. Since it’s so popular, you could even choose a wine from a place that has a special meaning to both of you, making the choice even more perfect.
If you’re looking for other options, consider this rule of thumb: the fattier the cut, the stronger the wine should be. Lean steaks like sirloin would benefit from a more subtle flavor. If you’re having a fatty cut like prime rib, go bold.
Fish and Seafood
All fish are not created equal so the old “white wine with fish” rule isn’t necessarily one to follow.
Fattier, stronger flavored fish like salmon or mahi-mahi pair well with lighter red wines such as pinot noir. If you do prefer a white wine with one of these stronger flavored fish, go for a stronger white, like a chardonnay.
Mild fish like cod or halibut are best when paired with white wine. As with chicken, consider playing off the flavors that go along with the dish. Light Mediterranean flavors like lemon and herbs might call for a lighter wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. If a stronger flavor is being used, a stronger white like a riesling may be an option.
There’s no hard and fast rule for pairing your wedding wine with pork. A hearty hunk of fatty smoked ham requires a totally different pairing strategy than a delicately flavored slice of lean pork tenderloin. Medium-bodied red wines like merlot are as strong as you should consider for fattier cuts like ham or ribs. And for leaner cuts, don’t go any lighter than a medium-bodied white such as pinot grigio.
The perfect wine pairing for a vegetarian main dish will match the heartiness of the wine with the heartiness of the vegetable. Seasonality is an important consideration as well.
Consider a dish heavy in root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and squash — or a deep-flavored bean stew. Sounds hearty, right? And both would be terrific with a popular red wine like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, or syrah.
If you’re having a warm-weather wedding, delicate vegetables like local greens and in-season fruits would make for the best vegetarian main, and you’d probably want to stick with white wine. A salad with local fresh fruit would pair well with a wine with fruit notes to match like riesling.
Pair By Season
The time of year that you’ll be getting married can also play a big role when choosing your wedding wine. At fall or winter weddings, your guests will want to warm up so a hearty meal paired with a red wine like a syrah or tempranillo will brighten their mood. A light salad and a fruity white wine may not have the same effect.
Spring is a temperate time of year, and a good time to sample wines from the warmer growing regions. Areas like California, Australia, and Spain enjoy a perpetual spring, and produce bright wines to match.
For a summer wedding outdoors, your guests will need a little relief from the heat and appreciate a chilled drink like white wine, rosé, or a sparkling wine.
Pair by Wedding Theme
We’re all about finding ways to make your special day unique so we love the idea of centering your wine choices around the wedding theme. A beach-themed wedding with fresh fruit and seafood on the menu would pair well with a wine with tropical notes, often found in white wines like chardonnay or sauvignon blanc.
What Are Some Popular Wedding Wines?
- Popular red wedding wines are cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and rose.
- Popular white wedding wines are chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and pinot grigio.
- Popular sparkling wines for weddings are champagne, sparkling rose, and prosecco.
How Much Wine Do You Need for Your Wedding?
Running out of alcohol will stop the party faster than you can say “where’s the nearest liquor store?” To ensure that doesn’t happen, you’ll want to calculate how much alcohol you’ll need by factoring in a few things like:
- The Guest Count (assume everyone who is over 21 will drink)
- Duration of reception
- Whether you are serving other alcoholic beverages
To start, figure out how many alcoholic beverages you’ll need overall. The basic rule of thumb for any celebration is 2 drinks per person for the first hour, and 1 drink per person for every hour thereafter.
So, if you were having a 4-hour reception for 100 adults, you could expect to serve 500 drinks. Of course, if you know your friends and family drink like fish 🤣 then it’s best to overestimate that number!
How Much Wine Should You Buy if You’re Only Serving Wine?
If you’re only serving wine, figure on about a bottle per person for a longer event (four hours or more).
How to Choose the Right Ratio of Red to White?
Choose the amount based on the season of your wedding and the food you’re planning to serve.
How Much Wine Should You Buy if You’re Also Serving Beer?
If you’re also serving beer at your wedding, figure on about 1 bottle of wine for every 2 guests for a longer event (four hours or more). People will likely enjoy beer before dinner, then switch to wine with their meal. You should have at least enough for everyone to have two glasses of wine with dinner.
How Much Wine Should You Buy if You’re Serving Beer and Cocktails?
If you’re serving beer, wine, and cocktails at your wedding, providing 1 bottle of wine for every 4 guests should be sufficient. This will provide enough wine for everyone to enjoy a glass with dinner and some overage for those who prefer wine above all else.
How Many Glasses of Wine in A Bottle?
Well if you have a heavy hand like me, a bottle of wine has about 2.5 glasses. 🤣 But for everyone else, a normal 750 milliliter bottle of wine has five glasses of wine. A case of wine contains 12 bottles, or approximately 60 glasses of wine.
How Many Bottles of Champagne Do You Need for a Champagne Toast?
Champagne and other sparkling wines are sold in the same sized bottle as wine. (750mL) And just like regular wine, you can count on approximately 5 full glasses of wine per bottle.
But you don’t need or want a full pour for a champagne toast — only enough for a sip or two. So, for a champagne toast, you’ll need about 1 bottle for every 10 drinking guests.
Start Sampling Wines Now
The best way to figure out which wines you should serve at your wedding is by testing them out! You can go to a tasting at a local shop, or consider a wine club subscription, like First Leaf. If you prefer to start your wine tasting at home in your comfies, then use our discount code: 6yn59k4t3 for $10 off your first box of 6 curated wines.
Take their wine quiz to find your next favorite wine!
Thanks to First Leaf for partnering on today’s post.