How to buy wine for your wedding

Wine Basics / Serve, Store & Taste

How to buy wine for your wedding


Rosie Allen Rosie Allen

So, you’re planning a wedding and don’t want to be at the mercy of your venue’s over-priced wine list? Luckily, weddings and wine are two of our favourite things, so we’ve put together our most-asked party and wedding planning questions so you can go ahead and buy your own wedding wine with confidence. Cheers!

The basics:

  • How much wine for a wedding? Plan for a glass of Champagne / fizz per guest for the aperitif (and another for a toast if you like) plus 3/4s a bottle per-person with dinner

  • Champagne for a wedding can get pricey – Cava or Crémant de Loire makes a delicious, wallet-friendly alternative to premium French fizz, as it’s made in the same style, by the same methods.

  • How much to spend on wedding wine is all down to your budget. We’d suggest buying more bottles of good quality, great value wines over a few bottles of expensive premiers crus or fancy producers.

  • Don’t worry too much about how to match food and wine for a wedding: go for easy-drinking people pleasers instead, preferably that taste as good with food, for the dinner, as without, for the dancing!

  • Wedding-friendly red wines: merlot, young or Crianza Rioja, new world pinot noir, valpolicella, Beaujolais

  • Wedding-friendly white wines: sauvignon blanc, Chablis, gruner veltliner, albariño /alvarinho , Côtes du Gascogne

  • Don’t overlook rosé for your wedding wine. It’s food-friendly, looks great in pictures and feels very celebratory.

Step 1: Be clear what you really love (and really hate)

Much like showing your hairdresser a picture of a mullet, it’s often easier to explain what you really want by identifying what you really don’t want first. Hate obvious oakiness, super-astringent tannins or mouth-puckering acidity? A great wedding wine supplier can steer you in the right direction.

Also, think about the wines you really love. If you adore the buttery goodness of a white Burgundy but don’t want to sell an organ so your nearest and dearest can drink premium Meursault, tell your supplier and they’ll be able to source something similar at a wedding-friendly price.

Be clear what you love
Be clear what you love

Step 2: Budget, budget, budget

The actual amount of wine per person for a wedding in real terms:
You get around 6 glasses of wine per Champagne/ Cava/ Prosecco bottle so if you have 60 guests you’ll need 10 bottles for a glass each.
You’ll also want around 3/4s bottle of table wine per guest as well (which might sound a lot on paper, but free wine is always guzzled super-speedily).
Go 60:40 on red and white wines to keep everyone happy.

Don’t splash out – in our opinion, it’s better to focus on making sure you have plenty of good-quality but great-value favourites rather than forking out for a smaller number of über-premium bottles.

Also, remember that if you are buying your own wine, many venues will add an eye watering corkage charge, so make sure you allow for this in your budget.

Glass hire is another expense that often gets forgotten, so plan ahead and seek out specialists who’ll hire out wine glasses and Champagne flutes for the big day. Expect to pay around 30p – to £1 per glass. The Wine Society offers a free wine glass hire service from our Stevenage showroom if you’d rather spend your cash on wine over glassware.

And remember, wine glasses get smashed at weddings (fact). Avoid a nasty surprise the other side of your honeymoon by planning a reserve budget for breakages.

Don't forget about glasses!
Don't forget about glasses!

Step 3: Let your setting inspire your choice of wedding wine

Is your wedding a relaxed outdoors summer gathering or an elegant indoors winter wedding? Thinking about the weather, food style and getting an aspect of your personalities across will make a big impact on what you choose. For example:

A sun-soaked festival wedding with a street-food menu will be better enjoyed with bright and breezy whites: think Vinho Verde, Chilean / Kiwi sauvignon blanc or soft and supple reds such as merlot, grenache or new world syrah. A summer-pudding-scented Beaujolais is also a great call.

Moody weather at an autumn/winter wedding might suit something a little more classic and structured best; think big brooding reds such as cabernet sauvignon or the ethereal beauty of a pinot noir. Whites can be perfect too; think Mâcon-Villages or Aussie semillon.

Is there a region that’s special to you?
Maybe your eyes first met at an Italian restaurant, or when you were backpacking in Auckland? Choosing a wine from a region special to you can add a lovely personal touch to your day. If you met at Kwik Fit in Milton Keynes you’ll have to use your imagination (though Hampshire is probably close enough to be convincing). Matching your wine to your honeymoon destination also makes for a nice story whether you’ll be skiing in the Alps, caravanning in the South of France or camping in Cornwall.

Let your setting inspire your choice of wedding wine
Let your setting inspire your choice of wedding wine

More tips for buying wedding wine

Do I need a Champagne toast?

Not necessarily. Cava makes a delicious and cheap alternative to Champagne as it’s made in exactly the same way to give that lovely, toasty brioche flavour you get in premium fizz. Cremant is another great choice for low-cost fizz. It’s made in France by the same method and occasionally with different grape blends depending on the region. Or, if you love the wines you’ve already got on the table stick to those.

Should I match wine with the wedding breakfast?

Don’t worry too much about food matching (unless you and your guests are seriously into your wine). Go for easy-drinking styles without divisive characteristics such as harsh tannins, super-high acidity, overt oaky notes or uber-subtle flavours which can get lost with strongly-flavoured foods.

Which style of wine should I buy for my wedding?

If you don’t feel confident in choosing the perfect style, there are a few easy bankers that won’t let you down. Merlot gets a lot of flack for its easy-going nature, but this is exactly why it can make a great wedding wine: soft, round fruity flavours, a touch of spice and people-pleasing smooth texture: Chile is a great place to look for good quality inexpensive versions.

Also, look to Europe’s crowd-pleasing classics, such as Crianza Rioja, or lighter-weight valpolicella. A new world pinot noir makes a mouthwatering alternative, packing loads of crunchy cranberry and raspberry flavours.

For whites, it’s safest to stay in the dry and refreshing zone: try new world sauvignon blanc for aromatic fruit flavours, Chablis for classic elegance or go for something a bit different with an Austrian grüner veltliner (I’ve yet to find anyone who doesn’t love it), Spanish albariño / Portuguese alvarinho.

Rosé is an unexpected hero when it comes to matching with food – they work beautifully with spicy foods, fish, meat and vegetables and look amazing on the table (which might not matter to you most of the time, but think of the pictures!).

Try something lighter in alcohol

So you can have a few glasses and still remember that ‘massive thing you spent all your money on’ (aka your wedding day) the next morning.

Or just do what you want

It’s your wedding after all, so don’t be afraid to inject a little personality with your favourite wines or choose styles from a region that’s special to you.

How can we help with buying wedding wine?

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