Wine 101

A top wine expert offers her insider tips for choosing your wedding-day drinks

There’s no doubt about it: Choosing wine can be one of the most enjoyable parts of wedding planning. And selecting your big-day libations doesn’t have to be stuffy or pretentious. Anu Karwa, who holds an Advanced Certification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, founded trendy wine tasting event organizer Swirl Events to share her passion for approaching wine in a fresh, fun way. Here, she shares her best advice for picking the wine for your wedding.

How should a couple pick wines for their wedding? What should they order?

When picking wine for a wedding, you want to pick one white wine and one red wine. Make sure they're food friendly and that they'll please a wide spectrum of palates. Don’t pick extreme or non-food friendly wines, e.g. a sweet white wine, a big Barolo, red Zinfandel, etc. Plus you need a sparkling wine for the toasts. My picks for wedding whites include: a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (especially the Marlborough region), a dry Riesling from Washington State or Alsace or an unoaked Chardonnay (known as White Burgundy in France.) For reds, I would pick a Pinot Noir (known as Red Burgundy in France.) Great choices come out of the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the classic region of Burgundy. They’re very food friendly or perfect on their own and easily please a wide taste range.

How many glasses of wine should a couple budget per person?

Assess your crowd. Some crowds are more likely to consume wine, beer and cocktails. The ratio is up to you, but assume people drinking wine consume one glass per hour.

Champagne's expensive but necessary for a Champagne toast. What can a couple do to save money without losing this special touch?

My favorite wine tip for weddings involves Champagne. Champagne is a major wedding expense (since people usually budget two glasses per guest.) Instead, pick a Prosecco, a sparkling wine from Italy, or a Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain. Both are equally elegant and you can find fantastic bottles for about $12!

How can oenophiles incorporate wine into their wedding?

Pick wines that are special to you and indicate the meaning behind the choice to guests via small tent cards. Place the tent cards in front of the wine or near the bar. This gives guests a little insight into you as a couple.

Not sure which wines to pick? Here are a few questions to get your imagination going:

  • Do either the bride or groom come from a wine-friendly area? Pick a wine from their home state or country.
  • Have you vacationed in wine country?
  • Are you especially environmentally conscious and planning a "green" wedding? Pick all organic or biodynamic wines.
  • Have you picked a wine to be your new “home” wine?
  • Do you have a special restaurant: Where you shared your first date, where he proposed, etc...? Pick a wine off their menu.
  • Are you going to a honeymoon spot known for its wine: Napa, Australia, France, Italy, Egypt, even India?
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