Whether you’re the helpful parents of the happy couple or the happy couple, navigating where to buy wedding wine and how to get the best deals can seem like a daunting task.
To help, the Good Housekeeping Institute has put four of the best wedding wine retailers to the test, trialling the service and selecting the best value bottles from their range. We’ve also tried to answer all the major questions you might have, to ensure the party goes off without a hitch.
How much wine do you need for a wedding or party?
Firstly, you should work out how many hours you’ll be offering drinks for. A good rule of thumb is to supply one drink per hour, per adult guest. Some will drink faster, and others less, balancing each other out. However, you may want to round up or down, depending on your guests’ appetite (which you’ll know best!).
Typically, red and white wine is equally popular, so we’d split your order down the middle. However, do allow for seasonality. More guests are likely to drink white wine in the middle of a heatwave, and likewise red might prove more popular during the winter months.
On top of this, you should allow for champagne or sparkling wine if you’re planning to make a toast, and/or serving it during the wedding reception before the meal. You get six glasses of sparkling wine in a bottle (vs four 175ml glasses of wine) so you will likely need to buy fewer bottles of bubbly than red and white wine.
It’s also important to consider those not drinking, whether you choose to offer soft drinks, non-alcoholic wine, or mocktails.
How much should I spend on a bottle of wine for a wedding?
Everyone’s budget is different, but whether you spend five pounds or fifty, it’s important you stick to the figure once decided, and make sure you factor in corkage where applicable. That said, many retailers offer sale or return — meaning you’re able to get a full refund on unopened bottles — so you don’t need to worry about ordering too many and being left with a surplus.
To make your money go further, we recommend swerving well-known wine regions such as Bordeaux or Provence and replacing them with under the radar alternatives.
For example, you could replace champagne with crémant (sparkling wine made just outside of the Champagne region), or Spanish cava, which is made in the same traditional method. Instead of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, look to South Africa or Chile, and if you adore Italy’s rich Amarone, try appassito-style wines, where the grapes are partially dried, replicating that big, concentrated flavour.
Wedding food and wine pairings
Whether you’ve serving a traditional sit-down dinner, or more of a relaxed buffet, choosing wine that will go with each course, and be enjoyed into the evening, can be tricky.
While it goes without saying that the bride and groom should enjoy what’s chosen, we’d avoid going for anything too “out there”, or polarising, in a bid to appeal to all. Sauvignon blanc, merlot and unoaked chardonnay are all safe bets and food-friendly, whatever the season.
How we test wedding wine
Our panel of WSET-trained experts sampled 27 bottles of red, white and sparkling wines from four of the leading wedding wine retailers. They were looking for crowd-pleasing, easy drinking styles that offered the biggest savings and would go with a range of dishes.
These are the bottles our experts recommend for the big day…