Wine Tasting For Your Wedding? Tips For Your Big Day

beautiful wine setup

Picking out the wine for your wedding can be an overwhelming task, but it can also be a fun way to express your creativity and uniqueness as a couple. Local wineries and online services can offer up a wide selection of wines to taste, but you can also buy your own bottles and do it at home.

Regardless of how you decide to conduct your initial wine tasting, you'll get to choose what wines you like most to enhance the menu for your special day. Guests will be thrilled to have different options, and wines are an excellent opportunity to showcase different regions.

Guest List And Tasting

Guest List and Tasting

When selecting wines for your wedding, you'll want to have a firm guest list that isn't likely to change so that you can plan for the right number of varieties and bottles to have on hand. This way when you taste different wines, you'll have a set number of types you'll want to choose to satisfy your guests.

You can go to multiple places to taste wines, and depending on your location you may be able to do it from home. Wine tastings are generally widely available, and you can set them up using different sources:

  • Local wineries that offer tastings
  • Online tasting services
  • Buy bottles of wine from a retail location and do a tasting at home

When you have a set guest list, it is likely that you'll want to have at least two different kinds of wine, but the popular opinion is that it's better to have at least 3-4. You'll want to have different varieties that cover both red and white wines, and its best to have recommendations for guests on what order they should be consumed, and what pairs best.

Once you’ve determined where you'd like to do your tasting, it's time to gather up a few friends or family members and dive into the tasting of the wines. For this, you'll want to have someone knowledgeable about wines, or at least look up some information on the wines you intend to taste if you are at home.

If you are at home, it's usually best to do a "blind tasting" where you cover up the labels of the wine bottles to ensure that you get unbiased feedback from your fellow tasters. Having an evaluation card printed out and ready to go for the tasting is also handy and will help gather up feedback more efficiently.

When tasting you’ll want to keep in mind the “Four S’s” as it’s called: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip. This method will help to uncover all of the subtle flavors and aromas of the wine that may otherwise be overlooked when wine tasting.

When planning your tasting at home, remember that red and white are not the only considerations when it comes to wine types. There are also variations such as rose wines, and champagne that may be a wonderful addition to your festivities.

Champagne toasts, for example, have not lost any of their popularity and rose wines are particularly famous for summer events. You may also want to consider wines that have some personal connection to you as a couple such as the wine you drank on your first date.

Regional wines are often a good choice if you are unable to get exotic varieties. Regional wines are frequently less expensive than their imported counterparts, and they also serve to highlight the local offerings that may be connected in some way to the couple.

You may also want to consider offering options that aren't wines if you are particularly interested in keeping things local. There has been a surge in popularity for microbrew beers and other beverages that are just as classy as wine and pair just as easily with different menus.

During your wine tasting at home, you'll want to make sure that you have crackers and water on hand for your fellow tasters to cleanse their palate with between wines. Traditionally, when you taste wine you don’t actually swallow it but most of the time this guideline is ignored.

Wine Varieties And Regions

Wine toasting

If you are looking to have different kinds of white and red wine at your wedding but love a specific variety, keep in mind that you can get bottles from different regions to add some spice. For example, you can get a chardonnay from Argentina, California, and Spain that will all taste different enough to entertain guests and pair well with various menu items.

Likewise, champagne can vary widely from region to region, and also comes with different infusions and levels of sweetness. Champagne bars have risen in popularity as couples look to add a bit of class to the traditional bar set up.

Red wines are another solid choice for your big day, but you'll want to pick them carefully, so you have a proper selection of light to more full-bodied wines. If you are unsure which varieties are best; it's a great idea to go to a local winery for a wine tasting where they will also serve different cheeses and crackers so you can experiment.

Keep in mind that when tasting wines, it's inevitable that you'll discover one that is undrinkable to you that someone else may like. This reaction happens to everyone at some point, and it may be good to have a "spit bucket" on hand for guests to dump out the wine that they don't like while at your wedding.

Lastly, when tasting wines, and having them poured at your wedding, make sure that the bartender knows not to fill the glass. By giving guests 1/3rd of a glass of wine they can taste multiple different kinds. At your tasting, you may even want to just try a splash in a wine glass if you have many different bottles to choose from.

Pairings For Red And White

Pairings for Red and White

The menu for your wedding doesn’t have to change just to fit the wines because different wines can pair beautifully with a variety of different dishes. The rules of red and white wines being mandatory for certain dishes have disappeared, and now many different wines can be paired with all kinds of delicious foods.

If you do your initial wine tasting at a winery, they’ll be able to look at your menu for your wedding and make recommendations for wines that you should try. This method can be a great way to try a variety of wines and save time while also getting the most information out of the experience.

Frequently, if you purchase your wines from a local winery, you won't have to worry about being able to get enough unless your reception will be quite large. You can plan on getting about five glasses of wine out of each bottle, and with 3-4 varieties, you won't need as much of a single kind.

Besides pairing wines with a menu on your big day, you'll want to consider the glassware that you are using. There are glasses for both red and white wines, but you can also choose a neutral option that is suitable for both.

Traditionally, red and white wines are served in different glassware, but this is no longer mandatory, and it’s become much more common to serve both kinds of wine in the same glass in order to limit confusion and expense.

You may want to consider different glassware if you plan to serve champagne or other specialty wines. For more rich or stronger beverages such as port or liquor, you’ll also want to have smaller glasses on hand that are appropriate.

Both red and white wines pair wonderfully with charcuterie and different snack items that are perfect for starting your reception. Champagne can also pair nicely with a variety of different appetizers as well.

Execution On Your Big Day

Execution on Your Big Day

When planning for your wedding day you’ll want to make sure that you have the appropriate number of drink stations for your guests, and the general recommendation is one bar for every 75-100 guests.

If you choose to have smaller drink kiosks, you may need to have more of them in order to serve your guests efficiently. Make sure that each drink station is equipped with a bartender that has some knowledge or information about the wines and other beverages being served so that they can make recommendations to guests.

You'll also want to have crackers close at hand for guests to eat between glasses, and you'll want to have trays to collect used glassware that is off to the side of the room. Keep in mind that guests don't like long lines to get drinks and you'll want to have the bars strategically located whenever possible.

Signage can help guests stay on track and decide what kind of beverages they wish to try. It's usually best to have the bartender’s direct guests to try the wines in order from least to the most full-bodied. This way they can best appreciate all of the flavors and subtleties of each one.

Plan on each guest having a total of three glasses of wine, or five for those who particularly relish a good drink.