How To Cater Your Wine To Your Wedding – The Ultimate Guide

Planning a wedding can be stressful – there are so many things you need to do.

How To Cater Your Wine To Your Wedding - The Ultimate Guide

One of those things is organizing the wine for your celebration. But how do you know which wines to serve? How much wine do you need to provide?

What is the best way to serve wine at a wedding? 

If you want to know the answers to these questions and more then keep reading. We have put together this guide to make it easier to cater the wine to your wedding. 

What Are The Best Wines To Serve At Your Wedding? 

There are lots of different wines that you can serve at your wedding, and a lot of it will come down to preference. Many people choose to serve more red wine than white wine at weddings as it tends to be more popular.

Here are some recommendations that will work with lots of different foods and would make a great choice for your wedding. 

Red Wines 

Red wines tend to be the most popular options with wedding guests, but you need to choose the right one. Find something easy to drink that is not overly complex on the palate. 

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Full bodied yet mellow red wine with high acidity. It is one of the most popular red wines, with flavor notes of blackcurrant, black cherry, spice and vanilla. You will also pick up notes of green pepper and tobacco. 
  • Pinot Noir – Pinot noir is a light bodied wine with complex flavors and a long lasting finish. It tends to be quite dry and bright with some acidity. The main tasting notes are cherry and raspberry with some hints of vanilla from the oak barrels. You will also notice earthy notes like mushrooms. 
  • Zinfandel – This is a jammy red wine with a full body and a high alcohol content. It is spicy and smoky, with flavor notes of blackberry, cherry and plums. You will also notice cinnamon and black pepper. 
  • Shiraz – Shiraz is a medium bodied red wine with some spice. It has intense black fruit flavors with black pepper. 

White Wines

White wines can be very refreshing, especially when they are served chilled. You should serve something that is not too niche to make sure that it is appealing to all of your guests. 

  • Pinot Grigio – Known for being crisp and refreshing, this is an easy drinking white wine. It has a perfumed aroma and flavor notes of citrus fruits and white peach. Some varieties also have notes of green apple and honeysuckle. 
  • Savuginon Blanc – This is a high acidity white wine with a full flavor. It has a medium alcohol content with mineral notes and flavors of grass and grapefruit. 
  • Chardonnay – Chardonnay is a dry white wine with medium levels of acidity and alcohol. It tends to be medium bodied with flavors of apple and tropical fruit. It also has notes of vanilla aged in oak barrels. 
  • Riesling – Riesling is a German white wine with a deep yellow color. It is zesty with juicy apple flavors. If you choose a sweet Riesling over a dry Riesling then you will notice ginger spices and sweet apricots. 

Rose Wines 

Rose is a less popular option at a wedding as it is hard to pair with food, but it can be ideal for a drinks reception or after the meal. 

  • Sangiovese Rose – A light, delicate rose wine with flavor notes of strawberry and cherry and aromatic qualities.
  • Syrah Rose – A rich rose with a silky consistency and flavor notes of cherry and lime. There are also savory notes of white and black pepper. 
  • Grenache Rose – A dry rose with a complex palate of rich flavors. You will notice watermelon, strawberry and lemon.

Sparkling Wines 

Whether you are using sparkling wine for a toast or serving it on ice on the tables, you need to make sure that you make the right choice.

Sparkling wine should be quite dry with fine bubbles to make it delicious and easy to drink. 

  • Champagne  – Champagne can vary quite a lot depending on which type you choose.. It can be full or medium bodied, but is often dry and crisp. Champagne is often fruity and elegant with notes of minerals. The best champagne can be quite expensive. If you can only afford a low end champagne you might be better off buying a higher end variety of a different sparkling wine. 
  • Brut – Brut is known for its dryness and light color. It only has a hint of sweetness, and is a less refined version of champagne. 
  • Prosecco – An aromatic sparkling white wine with notes of peach, pear, melon, green apple and honeysuckle. It is dry, but the fruitiness makes it seem a little sweet. You can mix it with orange juice and grenadine to make a lovely mimosa cocktail. 
  • Cava – Most caves are very dry, but some of them are sweet. The bubbles are very fine, similar to champagne, which is why it is often used as an alternative. You will notice notes of apple, lime and lemon. 
  • Blanc De Noir – A full bodied and fruity sparkling white wine that is made with red grapes. This gives it a pinkish color, but it is technically a white wine. It is elegant and fresh and ideal for your wedding. 

How Much Wine Do You Need For Your Wedding? 

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It’s important to make sure that you have enough wine for your guests.

Whether you are having a small, intimate gathering or a lavish celebration with lots of guests, you need to know how to figure out the right amount of wine to serve.

If you buy too much wine then there will be lots left over, and you could have spent that money on another part of your bridal budget.

If you don’t have enough wine then it will slow down the celebrations and could give the wrong impression to your guests. 

We have put together this advice to help you understand how much wine you need for your wedding, and how to balance it with the rest of the alcohol you will be serving. 

How Many Servings Are In A Bottle Of Wine? 

A standard bottle of wine contains 750ml. This equates to 5 glasses of wine with 5 ounces in each glass. This is somewhere in between a small (125ml) and a medium (175ml) glass of wine.

If the wine is on the table and guests are serving themselves then they might end up pouring themselves a slightly larger glass. 

How Many Servings Are In A Bottle Of Champagne? 

Most bottles of champagne have 760ml in the bottle, which is a little more than a bottle of wine.

However, it is not enough to get an extra glass of champagne out of the bottle, so one bottle of champagne will equate to 5 glasses of champagne. If you are using the champagne for a toast, you tend to serve only 4 ounces per glass.

This means you can get 6 servings out of each bottle. 

What About Other Types Of Alcohol? 

You should also provide other types of alcohol at your wedding, like beer and spirits. A keg of beer contains 165 servings of beer, with each serving being 12 ounces.

A 760 ml bottle of liquor contains 29 single servings or 12 double servings, with each serving being 2 ounces. 

So, How Much Alcohol Do You Need At Your Wedding? 

The easiest way to work out how much alcohol you need is to provide 2 drinks per guest for every hour of the wedding celebrations. This amount of alcohol is usually split equally between wine, beer and spirits – a third each.

This ratio can be adjusted depending on what your preferences are, and what you think your guests are more likely to drink. 

Most wedding celebrations last for around 5 hours. Not every guest will stay until the end, but you should account for each guest anyway. Here is a guide to how many drinks you will need based on how many guests you have. 

  • 25 Guests – 250 drinks (17 bottles of wine, 83 beers, 3 bottles of liquor)
  • 50 Guests – 500 drinks (34 bottles of wine, 1 keg of beer, 6 bottles of liquor) 
  • 150 Guests – 1500 drinks (100 bottles of wine, 3 kegs of beer, 18 liquor) 
  • 200 Guests – 2000 drinks (134 bottles of wine, 5 kegs of beer, 23 bottles of liquor)

What About Corkage Fees?

Many couples forget to budget for corkage fees when planning their wedding. Here is what they need to know. 

What Are Corkage Fees? 

A corkage fee is what the venue charges for storing and serving the alcohol that you provide from an outside supplier.

This is partially to encourage you to choose their alcohol for your guests, but also to cover the work their staff put in to opening the bottles and serving the wine. 

Can Corkage Fees Be Avoided? 

Corkage fees tend to apply to wine and beer, but not liquor. This can vary depending on the venue so you should make sure that you check.

To avoid the corkage fees you will need to use the alcohol provided by the venue in one of their wedding packages.

Some venues may not charge you corkage (or will charge a reduced corkage) if you put the wine on the table and let the guests serve themselves. 

Should You Consider An Open Bar? 

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Some couples prefer to put on an open bar for their guests. This is very generous and certainly goes down well with the guests, but it can be an expensive option so you need to consider it carefully in your budget.

If you have an open bar at your engagement party then your guests will probably expect an open bar at your wedding. 

How Much Does An Open Bar Cost? 

The price of an open bar at your wedding will depend on a lot of different factors –

the number of guests, the price of alcohol at the venue, the range of alcohol you decide to have on offer, whether you have a cocktail hour, a drinks reception, champagne toasts etc. 

An open bar doesn’t mean that you have to offer your guests all of the drinks available at the venue – you can choose a selection of drinks that are available to your guests at no charge, with the other drinks available if the guests want to pay for it themselves.

A lot of people choose to exclude liquors from an open bar to save money, as wine and beer are less expensive. 

What Are The Pros And Cons Of an Open Bar? 

There are upsides and downsides to having an open bar at your wedding. Here are some things that you should consider. 


  • An open bar makes you look like a very generous host 
  • Guests will able to relax and have fun regardless of their personal economic situation 
  • Your wedding will have a great atmosphere with everyone in the party mood
  • Guests don’t need to worry about carrying cash or cards, or losing them! 


  • It is difficult to budget for an open bar as you don’t know how much people will drink 
  • Guests tend to drink more when there is an open bar, so it tends to be a more expensive option 
  • Some guests might drink too much and not be able to handle their alcohol 
  • You tend to have less choice over which wines are on offer when you have an open bar as it depends on the suppliers of the venue 

How Do You Plan The Wine For Your Wedding? 

If you are still feeling overwhelmed about planning the wine for your wedding, we have put together this simple step by step guide to help you. Breaking down the process into smaller stages makes the task less daunting. 

Talk To Your Venue 

Start off by talking to your venue about their terms and conditions when it comes to alcohol supply. You can check which wines they supply and see if you like them or if you want to supply your own.

If you are supplying your own wine, make sure you check the corkage fees. Talk to the venue about where your wine will be stored and how it will be served.

You should also check that the venue is happy for you to use their glasses etc if you are providing your own wine – if not you will need to consider glassware in your budget.  

Confirm Your Guest List 

Once you have discussed terms with your venue, you need to look at your guest list. You might start looking into the wine options before you get final numbers, but you can still get a good idea of how much wine you will need.

You can also think about what your guests might want – are they likely to drink more red or white? 

Consider Your Menu 

You don’t want to over complicate your wine choices, but you can think about your menu when you pick your wines. Check some simple food pairings to see what is going to work best with your menu.

Overall, it is best to look for versatile wines that work with lots of different foods. 

Sample Some Wines 

Taste some wines to make sure that you like them before you buy. There is no point paying for wines that you are not going to enjoy, and if you don’t like them then there is a good chance that your guests won’t like them either.

You need to find the right balance between a great taste and an affordable price. 

Compare Prices 

You might think that you need to spend a lot of money on wine to impress your guests, but this is not the case.

Not many of your guests will be wine experts, so go for something that is good value, reliable and will please the majority of people.

After a glass or two of wine your guests will not notice the distinct flavors of the wine, and will be more focused on the event and the wedding celebrations. 

Buy In Bulk 

When you are buying wine for your wedding, it often works out best to buy in bulk from one place.

This will allow you to get a good deal and save some money. See if you can negotiate with the supplier and find the best price for you – every little helps when it comes to your wedding budget! 

How Should You Serve Wine At Your Wedding? 

Once you have chosen which wines you want to get for your wedding and how much of them you need, you also need to figure out the best way to serve it. Here are some ideas to help you. 

Can You Use Wine As A Centerpiece?

Some people choose to use wine as a centerpiece, as it can be an elegant touch. Make sure the wine is being kept at the right temperature – most wines should be kept on ice.

This works better for white wines than red wines. Red wine needs to be prevented from overheating without becoming too cold. This means that serving wine on the table can be a challenge, especially if you have an outdoor wedding. 

Should You Keep Wine Behind The Bar? 

Some venues will allow you to keep your wine behind the bar, and the staff will serve it for you. This is the best way to keep the wine at an ideal temperature, but additional fees may be involved.

You will need to discuss this with your venue. 

The good thing about keeping wine behind the bar is that only the people who want to drink the wine will get a glass. If you keep wine on the table, people may end up pouring themselves a glass to be polite, but not finishing it or enjoying it.

It also prevents some tables from drinking their wine and others leaving it because they prefer other drinks. 

What About Toasting? 

One part of your wedding celebration that requires wine is the toasts. These are usually done with sparkling wine – champagne if your budget allows.

Work with your venue to make sure that the staff know the schedule of your wedding day and all the guests have a flute of sparkling wine or champagne in time for the toasts. 

Champagne flutes can usually hold 6 ounces of champagne, but for toasts they tend to be filled up with 4 ounces. You need to decide whether you are having toasts and which wine you are using. 


Planning the wine for your wedding can be a challenging and sometimes overwhelming task. Make sure you use our guide to ensure you provide the right amount of wine.

Sarah Perez
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