While it is often easy to pick a bottle of wine you think you may enjoy with your meal, selecting a bottle that will please the tastes of around a hundred people sometimes seems like an impossible task. However, when planning a wedding, this is a task you will likely have to face. To make the process of planning your big day a little easier, we have put together a guide to help you pick the right wine, work out how many bottles you will need and offer some helpful advice to make your wedding run smoothly!
How Much Wine Do You Need To Buy?
The type of wine you can buy depends on your budget, so before you set your heart on a specific bottle of wine, you will need to work out how many bottles you are likely to need. A tried and tested method of working out this magic number of bottles is to divide the number of guests by 2.15. For example, if you had 70 guests coming, then you should aim to buy around 33 bottles of wine. You will now be able to work this figure into your budget plans accordingly, for example, a £500 budget would get you 33 £15 bottles of wine. Alternatively, if you would like your guests to have more wine, rather than rely on a bar at your venue, you can simply allocate three-quarters of a bottle of wine per drinking guest (i.e. don’t include any children in your guest count!). If you are including a Champagne toast in your reception then dividing your guest list by eight should reveal how many bottles of bubbly you require.
What Type of Wine Should You Choose For a Wedding?
Most couples will choose to purchase a mixture of red, white, rose and sparkling wines for their wedding so that guests are able to enjoy their preferred sip. However, it is unlikely that you will be buying the same number of each of these different wine types. The split of these bottle types will largely be dependent on when and where you are getting married. For example, weddings held in the winter or autumn months should have a higher percentage of red wine, as this is more likely to be wanted in the colder seasons than the fresher, citrusy sip offered by many white wines. Conversely, guests at summer weddings or weddings hosted outdoors, are more likely to want to drink a refreshing rosé, white or glass of bubbly than a warming glass of red.
When selecting specific types of wine for the table, you should take the planned meal into consideration. For example, if the wedding breakfast includes a red meat dish, then a full-bodied red wine should be selected. However, if you are serving chicken or fish, then the red wine option on the table should be lighter-bodied, and more bottles of white or rosé wine should be placed on each table. Take a look at our food and wine pairing guide to find out the best combinations for your planned dinner. Don’t stress too much about finding the perfect match of food and wine though, as it is more important to select a wine simply because you and your partner enjoy it!
When choosing wine, you may also want to consider the ease of opening and pouring. Having to have each bottle uncorked adds time to an already busy day, and can add additional fees from your venue. Selecting bottles that have a screw cap can be an easy way of cutting time and costs, and can allow your guests to open their own bottles as they require them.
It is likely that red wine will make up the bulk of the wine you buy for your wedding – typically around 40-50%. However, it may seem a little daunting to pick one type of red wine that will suit the tastes of a diverse group of people. Popular wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Syrah are likely to please many wine drinkers, and there will be a wide variety of these wine types to choose from. When selecting the red wine you want for your wedding, buy three to five different bottles within your allocated budget and get sampling with your partner or a couple of friends, and work out which one you like best.
Lighter white wine tends to be easier to pair with an assortment of dishes, and the zestier taste often provides a more refreshing sip for guests. Unoaked wines will also typically be cheaper than their oaky counterparts, so unless you’re a big fan of bold Chardonnay, picking a lighter wine will be better for your guest’s tastes and your budget! Choose Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio if you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing white wine.
While the traditional toasting drink of choice is Champagne, there are many other bottles of bubbly that are far cheaper and would do just as well for the toast, such as Prosecco, Cava or Sparkling Rosé, especially if your wedding is held in the summer months. When giving a toast, the Champagne flute does not need to be filled to the brim; a half-glass should suffice for your guests. Therefore, you will need far fewer bottles of sparkling wine than you will red or white wine. One bottle of bubbly per eight to ten people should be enough. With fewer bottles needed, you can then put your budget towards better quality sparkling wines!
While you may think your wine budget need only extend to wine, there are, unfortunately, often several other expenses relating to wedding wine. For one, if you are providing your own wine, the venue may add a corkage charge, which can be around £10-15 per bottle.
You will also need to think about the wine glasses. While some venues may provide them, others will not, and you will need to look into hiring wine glasses for the day. This is typically up to £1 per glass, although you may need some reserve budget saved to cover any damage from broken glasses! Alternatively, you can bulk buy cheaper wine glasses and be fully prepared for any future parties and events!
You may also want a few bottles of bubbly for other stages of the wedding, such as the hen do, or as a celebratory sip for the morning of the wedding, so you may wish to factor this in when buying your sparkling wine.
How to Store Wine Bought for a Wedding
When buying wine for your wedding, you probably won’t be purchasing the bottles the day before your ceremony, so you will need somewhere to store the wine in the run-up to the big day. If you are buying from a wine vendor, some will offer a delivery service to take your bottles direct to your venue on the big day; however, many couples feel happier knowing their wine has arrived and is in safe hands a little more in advance! If you have purchased the wine weeks or months before the big day and are storing it at home, then it is crucial to store it correctly as there would be nothing worse than discovering your wine has developed faults on the day of your wedding!
Wine cabinets are typically the most reliable and safe storage option for bottles; however, unless you and your partner are wine lovers who want to treat themselves with a pre-wedding gift, this is unlikely to be a possibility for many! Ultimately, your wine needs to be kept somewhere dark, away from any light and heat sources, at a stable, cool temperature with a little humidity. If you have chosen wine that is closed with a cork, then you will also need to store the bottles horizontally, so that the cork does not become too dry. If your selected bottles are closed with a cork, then purchasing a wine rack can be a great way to keep your bottles together, safe and stored in the accurate way. Plus wine racks will always be handy and able to be reused! Wine that is closed with a screwcap, synthetic cork, or is a Champagne bottle, can all be stored upright.
If you have recently got married and have any advice to share regarding the purchasing and storing of wine for weddings or other events, then please leave a comment below!