How to Choose Wine For Your Wedding

wine bottle

Choosing the perfect wine for your reception is influenced heavily by your personal taste. Fortunately, whether you prefer red, white or rosé, all three are always in style.

When you choose wine for a wedding reception it can be daunting when you consider temperature, menu pairings and the number of bottles to buy. Choose varieties that say something about you as a couple if you can, as part of your love story, and follow these tips so that you and your guests can enjoy your tipple.

It’s all in the menu

An autumn or winter wedding does not automatically suggest a red wine. Most people want to drink what they like at any time of year, even if white wine is synonymous with spring and summer.

Suggested wine and food pairings that carry similar flavours will complement each other. For chicken a medium to light red or a white is always a safe bet, a light white wine for fish, a strong red like Pinot Noir for beef and a bold white Burgundy for pork.

An experienced caterer can provide reliable food-and-wine-matching advice. Most will have a long list of possible choices to serve. Keep in mind, just because caterers can provide the total package does not mean that you should blindly entrust your wedding wine selections to them. You should taste all of their suggestions before settling on a particular wine. You could even buy a few bottles that you are interested in, invite a few friends over for a tasting, then let them help you pick out the winners if you cannot decide. Just consider it another pre-wedding celebration.

Keep it simple

A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rosé or a sparkling wine. To keep it simple, choose a white wine that's light and refreshing like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, and stick with a red that's a little bit on the crisp and fruity side, like a Pinot Noir. These selections go well with a variety of foods. For a sparkling wine choose a mild champagne, a sparkling wine from New Zealand or an Italian Prosecco.

With large events like a wedding, choose a wine with a screw cap over a cork to maximize efficiency and cut down on the inevitable bar queue.

wedding paper divas


Keep wines away from sunlight and heat exposure and ensure quality by storing them in a wine fridge or temperature controlled area like a cellar. Serve all of your wine cold, even red wine. While wine that is too cold can warm up, it does not work in reverse. Experts suggest that red wine should be served at 12 degrees celsius and white wine around 8 degrees celsius. If the bottle does not need to breathe, keep it unopened until needed, so the flavour is not lost.

Your wine budget

The cost of wine and champagne will likely represent about 15 percent of your overall reception budget. If you arrange for your caterer to provide the wine, it will typically be included as part of the bar bill. There are plenty of premium, inexpensive wines to choose from. Expect to pay about twice retail on each bottle that is served. This is standard procedure for both restaurants and caterers with the increase covering service.

Buy yourself or use the caterer’s wine

Couples who decide to serve wine they have bought themselves should anticipate a possible corkage fee per bottle to cover the opening and pouring of the wine. Most retailers offer a 10-percent discount for every case and that discount can increase with each additional case. Generally, the more expensive the bottle, the larger the savings when you buy it yourself and pay for corkage. If you plan to serve less expensive bottles it may be more economical to use the caterer's list.

One bottle per person

Whilst you may want a large glass of wine at the bar, keep the flavour and bottle count in check at your wedding by pouring eight glasses of wine from one bottle, around 90 millilitres per glass. Smaller glasses also keeps the wine from getting warm in the glass and it is simple enough for the server to refill.

For a whole evening reception, calculate your order basted on at least one bottle of wine per head. Add a cushion, so if you are expecting 150 guests, get 180 bottles. If you are planning a champagne toast for 150 guests but not offering it at the bar, you will only need 20 bottles.

It's always better to have wine left over than risk running out early. Any bottles left over can be given as gifts to special guests as they depart, taken on honeymoon or taken home to continue your wedding celebrations.