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Wedding wine without the whine: How to pick the drinks for your big day

Wedding drinks can be a minefield given the plethora of palates to please. Our advice for choosing the right drinks for your wedding is to keep it simple and classic, with the occasional, budget-friendly twist to personalise things and help make your big day memorable. Still feeling overwhelmed? We’ll explain...

How many bottles for a wedding?

Our tried and tested formula for wedding wine is to allow for one or two glasses of sparkling each at the reception, two to three per head for the main meal and one glass for the toast. Bizarrely, things nearly always work out this way, though most of us still panic-buy the day before. It’s always better to have more than you think you’ll need though as the worst thing would be to run out. If you do find you have bottles left, they make fantastic thank you presents later on and it’s always nice to keep a few at home to remind yourself of the big day. A good spirit option for later is a classy touch and as hardly anyone will take you up on it, you’ll probably only need two bottles (if that) for a normal sized wedding. We love the elegant Hennessy Fine de Cognac or the Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or to settle the food without being too heavy.  

Which wines for the wedding?

A sparkling reception

Go for a champagne as it’s a celebration: there is a champagne for any budget, start with the reliable, crowd-pleasing brut cuvées such as Moët Impérial, Veuve Clicquot’s Yellow Label or R de Ruinart. We also love serving rosé champagne as an alternative, alongside the classic white brut. Make sure your servers are up to speed. To personalise the whole affair and get the wow factor in early, why not add your own signature wedding cocktail to the reception menu and theme it to the bride and groom? A twist on a classic Bellini or Mimosa served with your sparkling wine and a special garnish for example, is easy to manage and lighter in alcohol. Not a bad thing when the party goes on for long!

The wedding feast: keep it classic

Next, comes the wedding ‘breakfast’ if you’re quaintly British, or main meal to most other people. You’ll need two great all-rounders, one white and one red. Malbec meant for immediate drinking will always be a red wine winner, such as the Terrazas de los Andes (and at £15, you’ll be smiling) as will a fuller-bodied New World pinot noir, such as the one from Cloudy Bay. It’s perfectly acceptable to sneak a bottle of something really special onto the top table such as Cheval Blanc or Dom Pérignon; it’s YOUR wedding after all. 

For whites, straight sauvignon or chardonnay tend to split opinions so a classic white Bordeaux blend in the form of sauvignon-semillon works nicely. It has the weight to appease the chardonnay fans with the freshness and zip for the sauvignon lovers. The style also happens to be an ideal gastronomic wine that will cover everything from poultry to fish to pork. We love the Cape Mentelle sauvignon-semillon blend.

A memorable finale with big bottles

A wedding is a fantastic chance to serve wine in magnum as it makes a great statement about your generosity (and how darn classy you are) as well as being a real head-turner. Cloudy Bay wines come in magnum, as do most of our delicious champagnes at every budget. Save these big guns for the toasts at the end of the meal; they’re just what you need to add gravitas to such an important occasion. Congratulations!

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