Wine is an essential component of every wedding reception. Even if a couple has an open bar stocked with top-shelf liquour and delicious signature drinks, mosts guests will switch to vino during dinner. You want to be sure that the wines you choose are a fit for the season, complement the meal, and inspire guests to sip to their heart's content. Since choosing reds and whites for dozens of people can inspire panic in even the best sommelier, we're offering tips to help you ensure you serve the right wine at your fall wedding.
Remember the season.
According to Amanda Neville, owner of Tipsy wine shop in Brooklyn, New York, three factors affect the wine selection at a reception: season, menu, and budget. "In regions where the climate changes over the course of the year, seasonality matters a lot," she says. In the northeast, for example, rosé and white wine reign supreme from May through August, when the warm weather inspires the need for something light and refreshing. On the other hand, reds and richer whites are preferred in the fall and winter, since guests will crave something hearty and warming. Keep in mind that seasonality does not impact wine choice as much in the west and southwest, since the weather change is milder.
Think about your menu.
Your dinner menu should also impact your wine selection, since certain flavors pair well with specific types of vino. For example, seafood works best with a crisp white wine (like sauvignon blanc), while a rich red (like cabernet sauvignon) complements beef. Menus tend to get heavier and heartier during the autumn months, so wine choice evolves to reflect this. "Pinot noirs and merlots are well-known varietals that pair well with most menu selections," says Neville. "For whites, we usually see at least one chardonnay and then either a sauvignon blanc or an albariño, depending on the menu choices." Also, make sure to have some bubbly on hand for the cocktail hour and toasts. "Prosecco and cava are fun for the cocktail hour. Pick something special for the toast," says Neville.
Be mindful of budget.
Think about what kind of wine and spirits you may want to serve early in the wedding planning process, that way you can divide your finances accordingly. Neville says you should ask yourself the following questions: Do you or your guests care deeply about wine quality? Will the crowd lean towards wine? The answers will determine the percentage of your budget to designate to wine. If, for example, many of your guests are wine enthusiasts who will indulge in several glasses each, consider splurging on higher-end varietals. On the other hand, if many of your guests will stick with cocktails, you can opt for more affordable options.
Stick to your personal preferences.
Like everything else in your wedding, wine choice should also be influenced by personal preference, since the bride and groom should enjoy their glasses of vino, too. Consider including your favorite wine in the round-up, or selecting something that's meaningful to your relationship. The perfect wine will add to the overall ambience and sentimentality of your big day.