The Basics of Picking Great Wedding Champagne and Wine

wedding champagne
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Wondering which Champagnes and wines to serve at your wedding? Don't know how much of each you'll need? You want your guests to be happy, but you also don't want to waste any money.

You and your husband- or wife-to-be might have a Champagne or wine you both love; maybe something you drank on a special date or what your parents drank at their wedding. If you don't, there are plenty of helpful resources available online that can help you make a decision.

How to Choose Champagne

You'll want to have a Champagne or sparkling wine for toasting. Many of you may not know that sparkling wine is actually the same thing as Champagne; the only difference is that sparkling wine is not made from grapes from the Champagne region in Northeastern France.

Champagne and sparkling wine are used during toasting, which is a brief part of the reception, so you could go either way: knock your guests' socks off with a delicious, high-end Champagne, or save a little money by going with a less expensive option.

Plan accordingly; ration two glasses of Champagne or sparkling wine per guest, unless you know you have a lot of Champagne drinkers, your reception will be very long or there will be many formal toasts.

How to Choose Wine

When trying to figure out what kinds of wines to order, there are a few things to consider: your guests and your meal. Start by assessing your guest list. For example, you might be hosting more than 150 people, but if you know your side of the family doesn't drink much, save money and only order what you know will be consumed. You don't want to spend more money than you need to, but you also don't want to run out.

Your caterer will most likely have recommendations and will help you figure out how much wine you'll realistically need for the number of people you're having. At most parties, approximately 30% to 50% of guests drink white wine (mostly chardonnay), 30% to 50% drink red wine (mostly cabernet sauvignon) and about 10 to 20 percent drink white zinfandel. Consider your crowd: more women usually means more white wine drinkers; more men typically means more red wine.

The entree(s) you are serving also factors into your decision. White wines are the most versatile in terms of pairing. For example, sauvignon blanc goes with a wide variety of seafood entrees, as well as poultry and cheeses, and is the best option for pasta with a cream sauce. Chardonnay is a widely popular white wine that works well with chicken, pork and many seafood dishes.

For red wines, merlot and cabernet sauvignon are the two most popular options. Both suit a menu that includes beef or pasta with red sauces. Another crowd pleaser is beaujolais, a light fruity red. If you're having a late November or early December wedding, why not serve a beaujolais nouveau? This highly-anticipated wine is the first wine of the new season and should be drunk immediately. It's also great for weddings, as it carries a sentiment of new beginnings and celebration.