What Kinds of Wine Should I Serve at My Wedding?

serving wine at wedding

Regardless of what kind of bar or alcohol service you want to provide at your wedding, wine is the number one type of alcohol that you must include due to sparkling wine and champagne being an integral part of the traditional toasts and celebrations. Many brides and grooms choose to offer at least two other kinds of wine on their wedding menus: one red and one white. How do you decide what kinds of wine to serve? How do you know how many bottles will be enough? Does it really matter how expensive each bottle of wine is? We answer these questions and more to help you figure out what kinds of wine you should serve at your wedding.

How Much Wine Should I Get?

Running out of wine at your wedding would be a travesty, so make sure you pick up enough to serve everyone. Many people enjoy drinking a glass of wine with dinner, while some enjoy drinking wine throughout the night. To accommodate all of your guests of legal drinking age, the general rule of thumb is to purchase one drink per person per hour of your reception. A typical ratio of alcohol to serve is 1/3 beer, 1/3 liquor and 1/3 wine as well as sparkling wine or champagne. So, if you have 100 guests in attendance then you will need about 30 to 40 glasses of wine per hour. With approximately 4 glasses of wine per bottle, you’ll need about 8 to 10 bottles of wine per hour. If your reception is 3 hours long, we suggest purchasing about 24 bottles of wine, or 2 cases. Each bottle of sparkling wine or champagne will provide about 8 glasses to toast, so for 100 guests you should purchase 13 bottles of sparkling wine for toasts only.

how much champagne to buy for weddings

Photo Credit: Hakee Chang

Of course, if you know your side of the family are excellent wine-drinkers, then you should tailor your alcohol menu to have more wine. If you find yourself in between cases (each case is 12 bottles of wine), we suggest rounding up. After all, if you have any left over after the wedding, you or your guests can take it home!

Popular Types of Wine

There are three main kinds of wine that you might like to serve at  your wedding: red, white and rose. Within each category there are several subsections of wine that differ greatly in flavor, body and finish. In addition to these options, you may also choose to serve sparkling wine, champagne or dessert wine at your wedding. Sparkling wine and champagne should be considered separately from the rest of your wine order because you will most likely only serve bubbles during toasts. We suggest choosing one white wine and one red wine to serve throughout the night. Here are the most common wines for each category:

Red Wines

  • Merlot
  • Shiraz
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pinot Noir

White Wines

  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Riesling

Rose Wines

  • White Zinfandel
  • Grenache
  • Sangiovese

wine at weddings

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Bottles vs. Box Wine

Box wine has a terrible reputation for being too cheap and low quality. In reality, box wine is a fantastic option for those seeking to supply their own wine on a budget. The trick is to never let the guests know that it came from a box; have your wait staff serve glasses on a tray as passed cocktails, or serve it pre-poured in carafes. A 3 liter box of wine, the equivalent of 4 regular bottles, ranges from $10 to $20, making it a clear economical choice.

Bottles of wine are the more traditional option, making it clear to consumers what they are drinking. You can leave one bottle each of red and white on each reception table for guests to consume at their leisure, or have waiters walking around pouring glasses upon request.

red or white wine at wedding

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Seasonal Wine

Depending on the season during which you hold your wedding, you may want to serve different types of wine. If you have a spring or summer wedding, especially a daytime or outdoor one, you probably won’t want to serve anything too heavy. Daytime, outdoor spring and summer weddings typically pair better with crisp white wines rather than full bodied reds. On the other hand, fall and winter weddings tend to go well with red wines, especially during heartier plated dinners. A dry rose is fairly versatile in seasons, especially if you are having a seafood-based meal. Think about what you would like to drink if you were attending someone else’s wedding and you’ll be able to make an educated decision on what types of wine to serve.

Where to Buy Wine at a Bulk Discount

As we mentioned earlier, box wine can be a very economical and practical choice if you’re serving a large group. However, if you’re interested in purchasing bottles, most grocery stores and wholesale retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club will have a variety of options for inexpensive wines. If you know that you want a specific type of wine, make sure you call your store well ahead of time so that they have time to order cases for you. If you are unable to call ahead of time, you’ll have to go with whatever the store has, which is not necessarily a bad thing! You could get a great mix of wines at the price you’re looking for.

serving wine at wedding

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One store in particular that has a great deal on wines is BevMo. If you’re able to plan in advance, taking advantage of their 5 cent wine sales is an amazing way to purchase wine in bulk at a deep discount. For every bottle of wine you purchase, you can get another of equal or lesser value for 5 cents. If you are a savvy shopper ready to take on the challenge, the BevMo 5 cent wine sale can be an excellent option for your wedding.

Wineries and Wedding Venues

In recent years, winery weddings have become more and more popular. Wineries and vineyards make gorgeous wedding venues, with lush fields, beautiful cellars and sprawling grounds. Thanks to the rising popularity in vineyard weddings, many wineries offer fantastic wedding packages that include a certain amount of wine from their very own cellars as well as champagne for toasts. However, most wineries will not allow you to bring in other wine and if they allow beer and hard alcohol, you will most likely also have to purchase a wine package in order to have a full bar.

winery wedding

Photo Credit: Indu Huynh

When to Start Serving Wine at Your Wedding

Many weddings have a cocktail reception in between the ceremony and reception. This is the time where you and your photographer take any last minute photos and take advantage of the sunset lighting. During this time, your guests will mingle, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and beverages and sign your guest book. Typically, beer, wine and cocktails will begin being served at this time.

Some wines can be quite heavy, such as buttery Chardonnays or full-bodied Merlots. If you plan to start serving wine immediately following your ceremony during a cocktail reception, it’s recommended that you serve lighter wines to pair with the hors d’oeuvres and not make people too full, sleepy or intoxicated before dinner is even served. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are good choices for light wines.

Wine-Themed Wedding

Wine is an important element of any wedding, so why not have it as part of your theme and décor? Wine bottles can be painted, dipped in glitter or presented naturally as gorgeous centerpieces and vases, while wine corks make excellent craft supplies. Create fun signs, artwork for your new home, guest books and more. You can even turn them into boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen! Sending your guests home with a bottle of wine, either custom labeled with your wedding date or from the winery you held your wedding, makes a fantastic wedding favor. If you want to create a rustic ambiance, wine barrels make excellent tables and stands in your reception décor. There’s no limit to how you can include wine into your wedding theme.

DIY wine cork art wedding

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wine bottle centerpiece

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wine wedding ideas

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wine cork shadow box

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wine themed wedding

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wine barrels rustic wedding

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Wine is the quintessential wedding alcohol, thanks to champagne toasts and the natural paring of wine with dinner. If you are planning to have wine at your wedding, it’s important to consider the season, time of day and type of wedding you are having. Lighter wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir work best with warm, outdoor, daytime weddings while heavier wines like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon work better with indoor, fall and winter weddings. If you know that your guests will primarily drink wine, be sure to tailor your shopping list to account for that. It is a good idea to keep your wine list separate from your champagne list as people tend to drink more wine throughout the night and only drink sparkling wine during toasts. When it comes to providing alcohol at your wedding, we always suggest to err on the side of caution – it’s better to have too much than not enough!

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