Wedding Wine Buying Guide

Let’s be real. Wedding planning is stressful. From finding the perfect dress for the ceremony to creating a seating chart for the wedding reception, there are so many details to consider. The last thing you should worry about is what wine to serve on your big day.

outdoor wedding reception

The Wine Cellar Group is here to take some stress out of the planning process. Our team has cultivated a wedding wine guide to help you select the right wine bottles for your wedding.  Many guests will drink wine over spirits at weddings, so it’s important to buy the right amount of wine for your party. Check out our helpful wedding alcohol calculator below to plan perfectly so you’ll know how much serving alcohol at a wedding costs, the benefits of micro weddings to choosing the type of bar you want and the best champagne for toasts. Whatever alcohol-related wedding questions you have, our wedding wine guide has the answers.

How to Calculate Wedding Alcohol & Wine

Whether you’re wondering how much wine you need for 100 guests or how many bottles of wine to get for 50 guests, it’s important to calculate how much alcohol you’ll need ahead of time. Let’s face it, running out of wine would put a real damper on your wedding—and having too much leftover wine means wasted money. Calculating how much wine your wedding requires helps ensure you’ll have enough for every guest without exceeding your budget.

The general rule of thumb is to have enough alcohol for two drinks per person per hour of your wedding. This includes all alcohol: wine, beer, and liquor. A typical ratio of alcohol to serve at a wedding is ⅓ beer, ⅓ liquor, and ⅓ wine per guest.

How Much Alcohol is Needed for a Wedding?

If you’re wondering how much wine to buy for an upcoming wedding—whether it’s how many beer bottles you need for 100 guests or how many bottles of wine you need for 50 guests—use this wedding wine calculator to get an accurate estimate for various alcohol types.

 

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Drink Serving Guide for pouring amounts and drinks in a bottle

Drink Serving Guide

How much alcohol should I provide?

2 drinks per hour X  number of attendees X hours of event =  total number of drinks needed

How many drinks are in a bottle?

Use this cheatsheet as a reference guide for calculating the amount of drinks you can expect to have for various types of alcohol.

How many drinks are in a beer keg?

  • 1 Beer Keg = 165 12oz. beers

How many drinks are in a bottle of wine?

  • One Bottle of Wine (750ML) = 5 5oz. glasses

How many drinks are in a bottle of champagne?

  • 1 Bottle of Champagne (760ML) = 5 5oz. glasses

How many drinks are in a fifth of Liquor?

  • One Bottle of Liquor (760ML/1.76L) = 12/29 2oz. pours

How many bottles will you need for your wedding?

The average guest will consume two drinks per hour.

The average wedding lasts 5 hours.

  • 50 guests: 500 total drinks needed
  • 100 guests: 1,000 total drinks needed
  • 150 guests: 1,500 total drinks needed
  • 200 guests: 2,000 total drinks needed

 

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Planning a Micro Wedding

champagne and appetizers at wedding reception

What Is a Micro Wedding?

A micro wedding is exactly what it sounds like: a smaller version of a typical wedding. While every micro wedding looks different, it typically has everything that a usual wedding has but on a smaller scale: the guest list, venue, amount of food, decorations, and everything in between. In some cases, the attire might even change.

Couples opt for micro weddings largely because they offer a more intimate celebration, which means that every last detail can be personalized to fit their vision. You can have fun with it and reinvent what a wedding means to you.

The Average Cost of a Wedding

 The cost of a wedding depends on the size of the ceremony, reception, and whether it’s a destination wedding or a local venue. Between more guests, food, and decorations, traditional weddings can end up costing an arm and a leg. The more recent micro wedding trend offers couples a more cost-effective and intimate alternative that doesn’t require sacrificing their vision for a beautiful wedding.

Micro weddings allow couples to save money in a struggling economy. When you have a smaller guest list, you don’t have to spend as much on food, decorations, drinks, and even the venue–leaving you with more money in your pocket.

How Much Should I Spend on Wedding Wine?

When it comes to wedding wine, there are a few things that you need to consider.

First, the cost of the wine will depend on the type of wine. For example, if you want to serve a champagne toast at your wedding then you will need to spend more money than if you were serving white or red wines.

Second, the cost of the wine will depend on how much is being served per person. If there is an open bar then people may drink more and consume more alcohol which means that you would need to purchase more wine for this scenario than if there was not an open bar.

Wedding Guest List

How many people are you inviting? The cost of wine for a wedding with 200 guests will vary significantly from one with 50 guests. Take a tally of the number of guests who will be attending to determine a practical estimate for the total cost of wine. Consider the amount of wine that was served at your engagement party, bridal shower, and any other wedding activities leading up to the big day.

Wedding Schedule

What’s the schedule of events for the evening? Will you host a cocktail hour or just a wedding reception? Was there wine served at your bridal shower or engagement party? If so, guests will likely expect it at your reception too.

Wine Budget

Ultimately, the cost of serving wine at your wedding hinges on how much you’re willing to spend.

The Best Wedding Wines

Here are our top picks for the best wines to serve at your wedding. We have listed some great premier picks, affordable wedding wines, and our best red and white wines for wedding receptions.

Red Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon

Gold Pocket Cabernet-US:

The Assist Cabernet-US:

Drawbridge Cabernet-US:

Pinot Noir

Purple Owl Pinot Noir-US:

Pescadero Pinot Noir-US:

Les Allies Pinot Noir-France:

Zinfandel

Howling Cellars Zinfandel

Capital Z Zinfandel

GFF Lodi Zinfandel

Shiraz

Tussock Jumper Shiraz

Johnny Q Shiraz

Casas Del Maipo Syrah

White Wine

Sauvignon Blanc

Sebes Estate Sauvignon Blanc

Silver Puffs Sauvignon Blanc-US:

Elqui River Sauvignon Blanc

Pinot Grigio

Il Casato Pinot Grigio-Italy

Alessandro Gallici Pinot Grigio-Italy

Between the Vines Pinot Grigio, California

Chardonnay

 Legendary Chardonnay

Las Vides Chardonnay

Tussock Jumper Chardonnay

Riesling

St Michael Riesling

Tussock Jumper Riesling

Sparkling Wine

Champagne

Champagne Jacques Lorent Grand Reserve Brut-France

Brut

Maison de Madeleine Brut-France

 Les Allies Brut Blanc de Blancs

1913 Sparkling Natural Branco Brut

Sparkling Rosé

1913 Sparkling Brut Rosé

Cava

Vina Palaciega Cava Reserva

Prosecco

Alessandro Gallici Prosecco

Fabulo Prosecco

Blanc de Noir

Champagne Albert Lebrun Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut

What is a Champagne Toast?

Champagne is a sparkling wine that is usually drunk at celebrations. It was first made in France and was traditionally served at weddings, baptisms, and other celebrations.

Champagne toasts are often done at weddings where the newlyweds will drink a glass of champagne together as the guests cheer them on. The bride and groom will say a few words about their love for each other before drinking their champagne.

If any two things belong together, it’s wedding speeches and champagne toasts. You can’t have one without the other. It simply wouldn’t be right. When you finish the speech and it’s time for guests to raise their glasses for a toast, you want them to take a sip of the best champagne. That’s why we recommend the Champagne Jacques Lorent Grand Reserve Brut-France from our Cellar Collection. It’s a crowd favorite.

If you want to know how many bottles of champagne you need to serve a champagne glass to 100 guests at your wedding, scroll to the top of this guide to reference our handy wedding wine calculator.

Glasses of wine with pink champagne and lavender garnish

Is an Open Bar Expected at a Wedding?

When it comes to having a bar at your wedding, you have a few options from which you can choose. You can have an open bar, a dry bar, a cash bar, a beer and wine only bar, or no bar at all. It’s all up to you and what you want on your big day. You’ll need to consider factors such as how many guests will be there and what drink options you want—if any—to determine how much an open bar or other bar type would cost at your wedding.

Bar Options for Weddings:

Open Bar:

An open bar is one of the most common bar options for a wedding. As its name suggests, the wedding hosts will pay a set amount for the bar, allowing guests to drink as much as they want. The key to an open bar is to think about how much money you want to spend beforehand and decide whether or not that is feasible for you.

Cash Bar:

When you have a cash bar at your wedding, your guests are paying for their own drinks. That being said, the onus is on you as the host to make sure there is enough alcohol available for all of them. This option can help maintaining a budget as you will not be covering the cost of the drinks.

  • Beer & Wine Only: The bar serves beer and wine but no liquor.

Dry Bar:

The bar only serves nonalcoholic drinks. This can be for religious, cultural reasons or due to venue limitations, but serving non-alcoholic drinks will help reduce the cost of a wedding significantly.  

 

Open bar sign at wedding

How Much is an Open Bar at a Wedding?

Let’s say you’ve decided to have an open bar at your reception. Now you’re wondering how much it’s going to cost to have that open bar at your wedding. As we mentioned above, the cost really depends on how many guests will attend, how long your cocktail hour and/or reception will last, and what kind of alcohol you plan on serving. Once you answer those three questions, refer back to our wedding wine calculator to get a better idea of what the open bar will cost.

Consider the Pros & Cons

Pros of Open Bar Weddings

-Your guests will appreciate it

-Your wedding will have a fun atmosphere

-Guests don’t have to worry about bringing cards or cash to pay for their drinks

Cons of Open Bars

-It’s expensive for the host

-Some guests will take advantage

-Things could get messy

Corkage Fees & Hidden Costs

What Is a Corkage Fee?

Corkage fees are fees that a venue or caterer charges to serve the alcohol that you and/or guests bring to the wedding. The fees may be charged for both wine and beer or wine only. They encourage guests to drink the venue’s alcohol rather than bring their own.

How Much Do They Cost?

An average corkage fee ranges from $10 to $40 per bottle. Some venues and catering companies charge a flat rate rather than a per bottle fee.

Can A Corkage Fee Be Avoided?

If your chosen venue or caterer offers to serve their own wine and you’re happy with the selection, you can avoid the corkage fees.

4 Tips for Buying the Right Amount of Wine for Your Wedding

You don’t have to break the bank to serve quality wine at a wedding. We’ve assisted with many weddings and have found these tips to keep in mind when it comes to ordering the ideal amount of wedding alcohol:

1.Plan early:

When it comes to fine wines, the earlier you order the better. That’s why shopping around and comparing brands by taste is essential to finding the best price. It also takes time for retailers to ship your bottles from their sourcing location, so order early if you can.

2. Try before you buy:

The same varietal can taste different depending on its place of origin, grape growing conditions, and aging techniques. For example, a malbec from one winery may be very different in terms of flavor than a malbec from another winery. Always try before you buy to get exactly what you want.

3. Compare prices of bigger bottles, crates, and cases of wine:

If you’re charging a per bottle fee for corkage, buying a crate or a case will be cheaper in the end.

4. Buy all at once:

Placing one large order for all the wine and champagne for your wedding can save you a serious chunk of change. That’s because most wine retailers offer bulk discounts. The larger your order, the larger your savings.

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Simplify the Serving Process

One way you can simplify the wine serving process during the wedding reception is by placing a magnum bottle at every table. Since magnum wine bottles hold twice the amount of wine than regular bottles, they last twice as long. Guests can easily refill their glasses throughout the night without you having to lift a finger. They also make for a practical and aesthetic table centerpiece.

servers serving champagne at wedding

Find the Perfect Bottles for Your Big Day

From rich, dry reds to crisp and refreshing rosés, you’re sure to find the perfect wedding wine in our Cellar Collection. All you have to do is select the bottles you want, click “add to cart,” and complete the checkout process. Your order will arrive at your doorstep in plenty of time before the big day. It’s really that easy. Browse our Cellar Collection to get started.

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Contact Us

Contact one of our stores by phone, or email us to schedule a wine sampling and to learn more about our bulk wine discounts and free shipping options!

 

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