Karen Fistonich, chairperson of the award-winning Villa Maria Estate, says choosing your wine can be one of the easiest parts of wedding planning – as long as you keep a few golden rules in mind.
Pop the cork
‘It's traditional to serve your guests a glass of bubbly on arrival and one with the toast’, says Karen. ‘At least half your guests will have a second glass during the early part of the reception, before being seated. And you should be able to get between five and six glasses from a bottle.'
Keep in mind that not everyone likes sparkling wine, so when distributing it to guests for the first toast, fill glasses only a third full – there will be those who only take a sip, leaving the rest in the flute.
Cater for all tastes
Having a range of non-alcoholic beverages available for guests is a wise option. ‘It’s a good idea to include some soft drinks and juices along with sparkling water,’ says Karen. She suggests serving ginger beer with a dash of freshly squeezed lime juice. ‘It’s a refreshing non-alcoholic alternative, and works particularly well during the summer months,’ she says.
‘To determine the amount of wine you’ll need for the reception, consider the drink options that will be available to your guests, and the number of non-wine drinkers attending,’ says Karen. She gauges that an alcohol-drinking guest will consume between two and five wines during a reception.
Serve it up
‘It’s advisable to ask your caterer to serve the wine to your guests rather than leaving bottles on the tables,' says Karen. ‘It will ensure the whites remain chilled, and help to manage the amount of wine your guests can consume.'
Go white on the night
Karen reports that white wine tends to be more popular than red at weddings, especially in the wedding-high season of summer. ‘A trusted ratio is three bottles of white to one of red, unless you’re matching a wine with each course. In this case, allow one glass per person per course, assuming you’re getting five pours from a bottle.’
You devise a menu that your guests will enjoy, and the same philosophy should apply to wine. ‘Consider the timeless rule of quality versus quantity when selecting your wine menu,’ says Karen. ‘Guests will savour it more if it’s presented well.'
The trick to matching wine with food is to identify a key flavour, such as lemon in a seafood dish, and choose a wine that will draw it out,’ says award-winning winemaker Alastair Mailing. Look beyond the basic pairing of red meats with red wines and white meats or salad with whites – it’s really all about flavour and weight.