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Should You Offer Wine Pairings at Your Wedding?

We found out what the pros think.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Nina and Wes Photography

Food and drink make up a large part of a wedding's offering, and the decision to include satellite bars, wine tasting stations, cocktail bars, and special after-dinner drinks are all important parts of the bigger picture. Some couples may opt to keep things simple by offering just wine and beer at their wedding while others go for a premium, fully stocked bar. For some couples, offering a dinner menu with wine pairings is an absolute must-do, but is it right for you? Whatever format you go with—a classic bar, a wine tasting station, or a pairing menu—here are a few wine-related considerations to make for your guests.

 

Related: Choosing Wine for Your Wedding

 

Offer Guests Drinkable Wines Throughout the Wedding Day

Keeping a bar moving at a wedding is every catering team's priority, so it's not surprising that most bar managers and catering directors will recommend limiting the number of wines you serve at your main bar. Jessica Lasky of Jessica Lasky Catering advises, "I like to keep weddings simple at the bar, offering one or two whites and one or two reds and that's it." David Zlatchin of Betty Zlatchin Catering follows a similar setup, adding that, "unless you are a true wine connoisseur or many of your guests and family have come to expect this around you, stick to a single option. You can always add a big red at the dinner table."

 

Incorporate Wine Pairings as a Station

For couples considering a wine tasting station, Zlatchin suggests, "I would limit selections to three or four reds and whites, one or two rosé options and maybe two or three sparkling wines at most. I always keep this as an auxiliary station—never the main bar—as people want to interact at the station with each other, with the wines and with the sommelier." This concept usually works best if your wedding venue is located in wine country or on a vineyard. Otherwise, wine as a focus may not be of as much interest to your guests.

 

Keep Wine Pairings at the Dinner Table Simple

Depending how food-centric your wedding is, you may be considering wine pairings with dinner. The verdict is mixed on whether to pair courses, but offering a wine that goes well with dinner is always a priority. "If it's a major multi-course dinner, then great, let's do some fabulous wine pairings," Lasky says, "but if our clients want to dance, socialize, and move around, I always suggest easier to drink wines that will appeal to a broader crowd and be easy to enjoy throughout the evening."

 

After-Dinner Considerations

Aperitifs and digestifs are a thoughtful way to end the evening if you have a satellite bar going. Zlatchin suggests dessert wines, cognac, bourbons, scotch, whisky, port, and digestifs can make great offering options if you keep the menu small and interesting. He also recommends pairing this style of bar service with a sweet or savory bite, "something like Moscato complemented by mini peach crumble, or a late harvest Zinfandel paired with a dark chocolate bite." Ending the night on a high note is the key, whether through food, drink, song, or dance.