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Wedding WineBrides are finalizing their spring and summer wedding plans — some with extreme relief and others with overwhelming stress. With a wealth of wedding planning advice, most have confidently confirmed the dress, flowers and cake, but the celebratory drink sometimes is a last-minute thought.

The most important first step in choosing the ideal wine is your budget. Knowing how much you want to spend for your wine and beverages is the starting point for your caterer, retailer or consultant.

Exactly how much wine to buy depends on the time of day, number of guests and overall format of your reception. A daytime toast with wedding cake will require considerably less wine than an evening of dinner and dancing. For evening receptions, most wedding planners figure on each guest drinking two glasses of wine every two hours. If you’re without a consultant to tally how much wine to order there are many websites with wedding wine calculators. RealSimple. com offers an easy calculation based on the number of guests, type of beverage and time of day for the big event.

With your style in mind, make your plans based on how many people you will be serving at the reception. If you plan for 300 guests, an expensive vintage wine most likely will not be necessary. However, if your wedding will be intimate, in a home or small setting, you may want to give more attention to detail and stay with my past advice: Buy the best wine you can afford.

Choosing the style of wine for a reception can be straightforward if you are only serving cake and sweets. A glass of Champagne or sparkling wine lends a celebratory touch and an easy resolution. If your menu is more complex, select food-friendly wines such as chardonnay, pinot grigio, merlot, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. And if you still want the bubbly toast, choose a sparkling wine from California or Australia, where many finds are under $10 a bottle.


  • NV Seaview Brut, Australia (about $10 retail)
  • 2011 Chateau Bonnet Bordeaux Blanc, France (about $14 retail)
  • 2011 Santa Rita 120 Merlot, Chile (about $11 retail)


  • 2007 Argyle Brut Sparkling, California (about $34 retail)
  • 2010 Cambria Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay, California (about $28 retail)
  • 2009 Clos Pegase Napa Valley Merlot, California (about $31 retail)