Earlier this year as I relaxed after a grueling day on the ranch, sipping of course a superb glass of Pinot Noir, I received a call from my good friend and family physician Kurt, who proceeded to ask my advice, on what? Not fishing, not hunting, which are our usual conversations, but wine. His daughter Sara was soon to be married, which I know as the invite was sitting on my desk upstairs, and I knew it was being held at his estate, a beautiful Victorian House set on stunning grounds of old growth timber, flowers and what else? A pond with deck and sitting area and overall a perfect location for an outdoor wedding.
As he explained to me his situation, how he hadn’t really given much thought to serving wine at the wedding until now, but suddenly realizing he had no idea what to serve when, or good golly, where to get it and how much would he need. As wine is my life, my passion and my profession, I have become rather an expert on wines and serving them, for two people or two hundred. I have been to rather large parties, vineyards, weddings and social affairs, and after all these years understand just one thing. You can never have too much wine!
There are many factors that play important parts to your wine decisions, from what time of year will the wedding be held, where will it be held, how many people will be attending, what kind of food will be served, will there be an open bar and or a beer keg? Another very important ingredient is the toast, and what kind and amount of sparkling wine will be needed for that. And lastly, something you might not think of as important, how will you keep the wines at proper serving temperature and what glasses will they be served in.
Lets start with some basic facts to assist you in deciding how much red and white wines you will need, and suggestions on the varietal. The average serving size of either white or red wine is 5 ounces every half hour that the wine bar is open, for those drinking wine.
If you are just serving wine and beer, the average consumption is as follows.
- 50% will drink white wine
- 30% will drink red wine
- 20% will drink beer
At an average wedding you should plan on each wine consuming person to drink 3-5 glasses of wine or ¾ of a bottle. Lets say you have 45 wine drinkers at your wedding. At 4 glasses each that would add up to 180 glasses of wine, which is 36 bottles of wine, which is 3 cases.
The best scenario is having a winery that you like in your immediate vicinity, which was the case with my friend Kurt. He and I went to his favorite winery and proceeded to taste all their present releases, deciding on one red and two whites that we both agreed on for the wedding. As I was in the business, I was able to provide a substantial discount on the wine for him, whom he hadn’t planned on, but lets say, was an additional gift to the bride and groom. But more importantly, as we calculated how much wine we needed on hand, we planned for an extra few cases, of which the vineyard accepted that if we didn’t use them we could return the cases for a full refund. If this is something you can work out with a winery or wine distributor, it is obviously to your advantage.
Now the question of what varietal of wine to serve at the wedding. I would say try not to be to fancy, however, serve the best wine that your budget can handle. After all, you only plan to get married once, so lets give a lasting memory to the taste buds of friends and family.
What Type of Meat Are They Serving
- Serving steak? Then go with good Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Merlot
- Serving chicken? Go with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir
- In heat of summer, cool off those reds for 20 minutes before serving
- Serve the white wines chilled
- Serve wines in proper glasses, especially sparkling wine for toast
The most important wine for you wedding is the sparkling wine for the toast. Three things are very important in making your decision. First, what is the best you can serve within your budget, having an accurate count of attendees, having the proper glasses for the toast, wine flutes. Please remember that this is one of the moments you will always remember, and so will your guests, so help them remember by serving the best sparkling wine you can, that actually tastes great. If your budget can handle one of the expensive champagnes from France, then by all means serve some, however, I still suggest you taste what you will serve. Even thought you may have a developed palate, and can appreciate this elegance in a flute, can your attendees?
My suggestion for the toast is a really great domestic sparkling wine, like Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards Brut from Sonoma California. Their Royal Cuvee just recently received 92 points from the Wine Spectator, and I personally not only drink this wine, but I have a row dedicated to it in my wine cellar. However, your taste, your budget and your choice may be different, so maybe taste a few and decide. Remember, any excuse to sip some sparkling wines along with maybe shrimp cocktail in front of a fire can make and evening special.
The Champagne Toast
- Glassware- 5 oz. flutes (not wineglasses)
- You will get 5-6 glasses from each bottle
Cheers to the Bride and Groom and also Mom and Dad!