How to estimate wine for a wedding

Written by andrea lott haney
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How to estimate wine for a wedding
Wine forms the traditional toast at a wedding. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Wine adds a touch of class to a wedding reception. Pairing wine effectively with the courses of the meal creates an enjoyable experience for your guests. Estimate the amount of wine you'll need for your wedding based on your menu, the number of guests and the amount of time you'll be serving the wine. Take into account whether the bar will be open serving beer or mixed drinks at the same time as wine. Plan on having too much wine rather than too little so that you have plenty for the celebration. Lower your costs by purchasing bottled wine by the case.

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Things you need

  • Guest list
  • Menu
  • Calculator

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  1. 1

    Eliminate children, teenagers and non-drinkers from your guest list to narrow down your count of wine drinkers. Only eliminate people you know have a medical or social reason to not drink alcohol. Leave people on the list who may not normally drink or you've never seen drinking. Some people drink wine at festive occasions but otherwise do not indulge.

  2. 2

    Plan on pouring four glasses of wine out of each standard 750 millilitre (26 fl oz) bottle of wine, and about 4.5 poured flutes out of each standard 750 millilitre (26 fl oz) bottle of sparkling wine.

  3. 3

    Estimate one flute of champagne per remaining guest on the list for toasting. Count the number of flutes of champagne needed, and divide that number by 4.5, giving you the number of bottles needed. Round up to the nearest whole number, then add two bottles per 20. Have at least two extra bottles per 20 purchased available in case of an accidental spill or bad bottle. For instance, for 100 drinking guests, divided by 4.5, you would need 22.2 bottles. Round that up to 23, then add two, and purchase 25 bottles.

  4. 4

    Estimate one glass of wine per guest per course. Add one additional glass of wine per person if you are not serving cocktails before or during dinner.

  5. 5

    Divide the total number of glasses per course by four to get the total number of bottles needed. Round up to the next whole number, then add two bottles per 20 bottles needed. For instance, if you have 100 drinking guests, you would need 25 bottles for the salad course, so purchase 27 bottles of the wine you plan to serve with salad. If your meal consists of three courses, purchase 27 bottles for each of the three courses. Eliminate dessert if you are serving a champagne toast with cake, and calculate sparkling wine with the formula listed in step 3. For a wedding serving 100 people with a salad and then a main course, no cocktail hour, and a champagne toast with cake for dessert, purchase a total of 81 bottles of wine and 23 bottles of champagne.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are purchasing the wine on your own instead of through an in-house caterer, save money by purchasing wine and champagne by the case. Divide your total number of bottles needed by the number of bottles in a case (usually 12), and round up to the next whole case number. Leave unneeded wine corked and take it home to give as gifts or serve in your home throughout the year.
  • Encourage responsible alcohol intake. Do not serve minors. Stop serving for an hour or more before the reception ends, and serve coffee and soft drinks. Have non-alcoholic choices available for designated drivers and non-drinkers. Reserve nearby hotel rooms for guests who are not able to drive home after drinking.

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