Wedding Wines, Part 1

A simple guide to making one part of your big day forgettable


No, I don’t mean to suggest that you share crappy wine at your wedding. Instead, I think that an easy guide like this will make selecting your wines an easy task, one you can quickly clear off your plate. So take some time and read our tips for a successful wedding and some great wine choices at popular price points. Make your choices and forget about it!

While I was thinking specifically about weddings when I started writing this, these recommendations and guidelines are applicable to almost any event, so you might just want to keep track of this as a primer on successful party planning! Today lets look at the easiest part, figuring how much to buy.

Photo courtesy Nickel Xie via Flickr/CC

What Should I Buy?

This is a tricky question and we’ll delve into more specific recommendations once we explore additional aspects of your wedding reception. We do need to start somewhere, and this is the most basic question.

I recommend that you stock at least one white wine and one red wine, plus a sparkling for the cocktail hour and toast!

Photo courtesy kenudigit via Flickr/CC

How Much Should I Buy?

A basic rule of thumb is to allot two glasses of sparkling wine per person, one for the cocktail hour and another for the toast, and then two glasses of wine per person, with an additional glass of wine per hour after the initial three hours.

Glasses of sparkling wine tend to be smaller than table wines, so you can figure on getting eight glasses of sparkling wine to the bottle, while six is a more reasonable figure to expect from a bottle of table wine.

Photo courtesy warrenski via Flickr/CC

The Minimum Number of Bottles

If we assume you’ll have 20 guests at your wedding (a nice number that’s easy to multiply), you should expect to buy a minimum of:

5 bottles of sparkling wine
(20 people x 2 glasses per person = 40 glasses/8 glasses per bottle = 5 bottles)

7 bottles of table wine
(20 people x 2 glasses per person = 40 glasses/6 glasses per bottle = 7 bottles)

But of course there is more to it than that!

Photo courtesy yashima via Flickr/CC

Are Your Friends Big Drinkers?

It is a question we have to ask ourselves. In general, the younger you are the more booze gets consumed at your parties. A wedding reception is no different.

If your crowd skews younger, consider bumping up the minimums for both the initial two hours and the hourly rate of consuming that follows. For my friends, admittedly a crowd of enthusiastic drinkers who would benefit from the public transit system here in New York City, I might suggest something like this:

Photo courtesy Matt Kowel via Flickr/CC

Adjusting the Minimum For Your Crowd

I can certainly imagine a crowd that enjoys two glasses of sparkling wine during your cocktail hour, a third for your toast, and drinks three glasses of wine during dinner. Of course consumption may slow down after dinner, particularly if you have an open bar, but an enthusiastic crowd definitely raises the bar for your minimum purchase.

8 bottles of sparkling wine
(20 people x 3 glasses per person = 60 glasses/8 glasses per bottle = 8 bottles)

10 bottles of table wine
(20 people x 3 glasses per person = 60 glasses/6 glasses per bottle = 10 bottles)

Will You be Having an Open Bar?

This is an important point in determining how much wine you will need for your wedding. If you have an open bar, the amount of wine consumed after dinner will most likely be much smaller than if you are only serving beer, wine and champagne.

I previously mentioned that you could figure that on average your guests will consume about a glass of wine per person for each hour your reception lasts. If you have an open bar, that figure may drop by more than 50%. Conversely, if you have only beer, wine and champagne, and an enthusiastic crowd, that number can easily increase by 25% to 50%.

Photo courtesy avlxyz via Flickr/CC

Accounting for The Open Bar

For an open bar consider using .75 glasses per hour as your wine consumption rate, so for a five hour party, you would need to add in an extra two hours of consumption. This would mean an extra five bottles.

(20 people x 2 extra hours x .75 glasses per person = 30 glasses/ 6 glasses per bottle = 5 extra bottles)

If you do not have an open bar and your guest are enthusiastic, consider using 1.25 glasses per hour as your consumption rate, for an extra eight bottles of table wine.

(20 people x 2 extra hours x 1.25 glasses per person = 50 glasses/ 6 glasses per bottle = 8 extra bottles)

Photo courtesy DeeJayTee23 via Flickr/CC

Stay Tuned for Part of the Wedding Wine Guide

It is easy to figure out how much wine to buy, it’s really just some simple math along with a few educated guesses. The next step is figuring out the mix of wines to buy. The sparkling wine is easier than your table wines if for no other reason than that there will probably be only a single sparkler, while you’ll probably serve both a white and a red wine, maybe even a rosé!

I’ll jump into more detail next week when we pick up the story with, “Answering the Age Old Question: ‘What wine should I serve at my wedding!?!’”

Photo courtesy Velo Steve via Flickr/CC

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  • Snooth User: Dinner Diva
    1131974 26

    Great information. I'm planning to pass this on to my clients, as I sometimes cater small weddings as a Personal Chef. Chef Mary Hathaway.

    Aug 25, 2012 at 12:42 AM

  • extreamly nice

    Aug 30, 2013 at 3:04 AM

  • really wonderful

    Aug 31, 2013 at 5:09 AM

  • wow...:) awesome post this is really nice and good post and i do appreciate for your detail to post by you...this is very good detail.... i m very happy to read it...:)

    Mar 13, 2014 at 7:24 AM

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