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You’ve said your “I dos,” and now it’s time to celebrate. Along with the food and music, more couples are using the wines they serve at their reception to showcase their personal style and wedding-day theme.
“It’s not as simple as choosing red and white anymore—there’s a lot to consider before making the decision,” says Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White, and Drunk All Over. “And with so many wine regions and producers today, it’s easy to find delicious bottles to fit any budget.” Here are some tips on choosing the right wedding-day wine.
CALCULATE YOUR QUANTITY
The average guest consumes about one to two drinks per hour, while a bottle of wine contains about four drinks (a bottle of Champagne has five). Of course, you will probably be serving other liquor besides wine, so take that into consideration when deciding how much to serve.
HAVE A TASTING
Just like picking out your wedding-day menu, your caterer should also be able to supply you with a tasting before you select the wines for your wedding day. If you’re getting bottles from an independent retailer, ask them to set something up for you before the big day. “A simple flight of eight to ten wines—two to three ounces of each—should be enough to make your decision,” says MacLean.
CELEBRATE YOUR HISTORY
Choosing a wine made in the country you (or your ancestors) were born, where you and your spouse met or got engaged, or a special vineyard you visited during your courtship is a fun way to personalize your day. Be sure to include a note on the menu cards or on the label explaining why you chose that specific bottle.
Put a spotlight on your home state by serving up wines from local vineyards. There are a slew of wineries all over the Garden State—find one near you at newjerseywines.com. You can even take a day to go on a tour, visiting a few wineries so that you can serve a variety of New Jersey wines at your reception.
MAKE YOUR OWN
At the Wine Room in Cherry Hill , couples can gather with family and friends to make a customized barrel of wine. You’ll go through the entire wine-making process, including selecting the grapes, crushing them, bottling, and putting on labels. “This is a unique way for couples to make choosing a wine for their wedding more meaningful,” says owner Kenton Nice. Prices start at less than $10 for each 750-milliliter bottle (smaller bottles are available for favors), and you’ll need to start the process at least ten months in advance, since it takes that long for the wine to age.
Gone are the days when red wine was reserved for pasta and red meat, while white was simply served with chicken or fish. Instead, choose wines that are food-friendly and appeal to many palates. “The best choices are not too light or too heavy,” says MacLean. For whites, try riesling, sauvignon blanc, or pinot grigio; for reds, opt for gamay, pinot noir, or merlot. MacLean even has an interactive tool on her site to help couples with the decision-making process.