You might remember a few weeks ago we published a post featuring 7 Delicious Toast Wines Under $20 by the lovely Hana-Lee from the Wander and Wine blog. Well today, we get to gain from Hana-Lee’s wino prowess (after all she is a certified sommelier!) yet again, this time she’s delivering five important tips for how to choose your wedding wine to please your guests, yourself and your wallet! She’s also given some awesome wine recommendations to get you started.
Photo by Michelle Nagle Photography
The time leading up to your wedding should be an enjoyable period full of celebrations and pure excitement. There will be some big decisions, sure, but some things just aren’t worth stressing over… like choosing which wines to serve on the big day. I get it though, it can be a tough decision… Chard or Pinot Grigio? Merlot or Cabernet? How many bottles and should the wine be paired with the food? So much to think about!
The number one thing to remember is that planning your wedding should be enjoyable, so choosing the wine should be (and actually can be) fun! Here are a few tips to get you started…
1. Go for at least one white & one red
Go for one white wine and one red wine at the very least (in addition to the Champagne, of course, which I already helped you choose last month!). Some popular wines, like the super oaky, buttery Chardonnays and intensely fruity Merlots, might not actually be the best match for the wedding fare. Instead, think about looking for lighter, more crisp whites that won’t overpower the hors d’oeuvres, like a Sauvignon Blanc for example. For reds, Pinot Noir is a food-friendly option that will be a safe bet whether your guests are eating chicken, steak, or mushroom ravioli.
2. Think about what you like and consider the alternatives
What if you prefer oaky, buttery Chardonnay? Well, it’s your wedding and you should do what you want and drink what you like! However, since many people either love it or hate it, you might consider a Viognier instead. It’ll have a similar richness to Chardonnay, but the oak nuances will be less dominating. Or try an unoaked or ‘naked’ Chardonnay, which is made using stainless steel or neutral oak barrels.
Photo by Ariel Nay Photography
3. Personalize it
I always appreciate weddings that have personal touches/details that complement the couple, so don’t feel limited to the song list or the food. You can select a wine that has a story or a special meaning behind it – ie, the wine served on your first date, the wine you enjoyed when he proposed, or a wine from your favorite winery. Unless, of course, it was a $200 bottle… then you might want to rethink that approach!
4. How much to buy and how much to spend?
You can usually plan on one drink per guest per hour, but when in doubt, it’s best to have too much wine on hand than too little. No one wants to stop and make a booze run midway through the evening, and you certainly don’t want to have to worry about things like that on your big day. Also, consider your guests’ tastes. Are they the types that like to guzzle down the wine without a thought (go for less expensive wines then) or the types that want to sip and savor their wines while mingling (maybe consider more special bottles)? Even if your guests are mostly red drinkers, at big gatherings like a wedding, people tend to reach for white wines over red. For one, many weddings are held in the summer months when it’s warm outside and a cold drink sounds better. And second, no one wants to be that person that spills red wine down the bride’s dress. Yeah, not so good.
5. Make it a fun event
Overall, it’s important to remember to have fun when choosing your wedding wine. You could even buy a few bottles that you’re interested in, invite a few friends over for a tasting, then let them help you pick out the winners if you just can’t decide. Just consider it another pre-wedding celebration.
Here are a few good options to check out, based on my recommendations above:
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc ($14) – it’s got lots of tropical fruit and citrus with a lively acidity. A great Sauvignon Blanc year in and year out.
2012 Bonterra Viognier ($13) – this wine is floral with nice apricot and peach flavors, and a somewhat spicy finish. Refreshing enough for summer, but a good option any time of year.
2011 Mark West Pinot Noir ($10) – big on juicy red fruit like cherries and raspberries, with a slightly smokey, spicy finish. It’s easy on the budget and easy to drink.
2012 Meiomi Pinot Noir ($20) – a little bit earthy, a little bit fruity, and a little bit spicy, this is a crowd pleasing Pinot, I can promise you that.
If you really love oaky/buttery…
2010 Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay ($15) – if you’re going to go with the big and rich Chardonnay, this one is creamy but with less dominating oak flavors than some others.