Wedding Wines on a Budget
Expenses, expenses. Planning a wedding can be so expensive – venue, band, limousines, invitations, hair stylist, flowers, photographer, dress, honeymoon, and countless other expenses – so it’s a good idea for the couple to do their research and determine where and how to save money. Sometimes, it’s not safe to take a less expensive route, for fear of compromising on quantity or quality, and the couple should determine where to cut some costs safely, going over priorities and weighing options.
In previous posts I’ve encouraged couples to think twice about having “house wines” poured at their wedding – I say this because oftentimes, house wines aren’t of particularly good quality at many venues, and while some of us may think guests simply won’t notice poor quality, I can safely say that guests do tend to notice when something is in fact good quality. At my sister’s wedding two years ago, she selected good quality Champagne and wines and much to our delight, many guests later commented on just how much they enjoyed her wine selections. I’ve also suggested that perhaps a couple should consider having their Champagne or sparkling wine flowing throughout the reception and not just for the toast. It’s not necessary to have it flowing throughout the event, although it is a nice touch.
So let’s say the couple wants to have good quality wines served at their wedding, but is concerned over the cost of pouring good quality selections. Fortunately, this can be done without spending exorbitant amounts on wine. With proper research, or guidance from the caterer or wine consultant, the couple successfully can select wines of good quality without spending above their budget.
While it is a nice touch to serve sparkling wine or Champagne throughout the wedding, it’s not necessary. As long as the couple has a sparkling wine served for the toast, this is
perfectly acceptable. And the couple need not choose a true Champagne, a sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France. Champagne is wonderful for sure, but the couple can opt for a less expensive sparkling wine from a different wine region, and save a lot on this expense. Sparkling wines from California and other parts of the United States come in all different qualities and price ranges, and indeed some are very good quality. Other options are Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain, or Prosecco or other sparkling wines from Italy – there are many lovely selections of Cava and Prosecco. And if the couple wants to try something a bit different from the norm, perhaps they’d even consider a Sekt – a sparkling Riesling from Germany or Austria – light, lovely, crisp, and flavorful.
As for the other wine selections, it’s a good idea to have a white and a red being poured. I still feel it’s smart to think twice about serving house wines, as there’s a good chance they
won’t be up to the couple’s standards, but it’s possible that the house wines are good quality. If the couple decided they’d like to replace the house wines with other selections, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling are relatively easy to find without spending a large sum of money and still staying with good quality. For Sauvignon Blanc of good quality but less expense, look to selections from New Zealand, particularly the Marlborough region. For Chardonnay, try a California wine. Pinot Grigio and Riesling are fairly easy to find at a reasonable price. While French wines can be quite amazing, it’s not necessary to choose French wine for a wedding, if the couple is concerned about spending above their means.
Regarding reds, I’m generally careful when choosing an inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon, as Cabernet often commands somewhat higher prices than other reds, and often the same goes for Pinot Noir. Yes, it’s possible to find decent Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon for less, but it’s fairly easy to find good quality Chianti, Merlot, and the very popular Malbec for a lot less than good Cabernet and Pinot. For Chianti we look to Tuscany, for good but often inexpensive Merlot California offers so many options, and for good and fairly inexpensive Malbec we can depend on the Mendoza region of Argentina.
As long as the couple wishes to serve good quality yet reasonably priced wines at their wedding reception, there are always options, and the couple and their guests will undoubtedly be pleased.
Jacqueline Malenda is a member of the Guild of Sommeliers, and a wine consultant and wine blogger based on Long Island, NY. Her research is primarily in the area of wine pairing. She is available for wine consulting, writing and guest blogging about everything wine!