Wedding Wine: A Marriage of True Vines

Liza and I chat about wines for weddings and parties on Global Morning Television.

Here are my Top 50 Wines Under $15 also showing you your closest liquor stores that have them in stock now.

As a bonus, here are my 20 Best Bubblies Under $20 for wedding toasts, and the most Gorgeous Gift Wines for the happy couple.

wedding wine bride

I love Liza’s gift idea for the happy couple: a wine crate with 3-4 bottles of wine.

Notes on each wine indicate the bottle to drink now, the one drink on their first anniversary, fifth and tenth. Add another special touch and buy one wine from the vintage of when they met or got engaged or the wedding year.

Here are more tips on planning party wines and drinks for weddings, reunions, graduations, birthdays and anniversaries.

When celebrating a wedding, anniversary, graduation or birthday with a large party, much energy is devoted to the food, flowers and entertainment. Yet one of the most expensive parts of any large function is the alcohol.

– how to calculate how much wine you need for the reception and dinner, and what mix between red and white, as well as other alcoholic beverageschampagne glasses clinking

– do you need champagne for the toast or are there other sparkling wines that taste good but don’t cost as much?

– similarly are there red and white wines that won’t blow the budget? what if you want to go local with your choices?

– how to personalize your wine selection as the couple, or how to do so if giving the gift of wine (every bottle has a story, special vintage to commemorate when you met, Italian wine for couples of Italian heritage, getting a signed bottle from the winemaker etc)

– quick tips for food pairings with the dinner

– which types of glasses to use

– other tips: serving water for hydration/responsible hosts, beverage stations separated from food stations to avoid congestion etc.


Liza: Natalie MacLean is here now. She’s the author of Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk all Over.

Natalie: I’m doing my research.

Liza: Right, great titles, welcome. So we are talking about, you know, ‘tis the season for big parties and weddings, and if you are hosting an event like that, it can be quite overwhelming to figure out how  many bottles of wine you need for something, how much red, how much white. How you do it without busting the budget?

Natalie: Exactly.

wedding wine coupleLiza: So should we start then with the bubbly?

Natalie: Absolutely, because most couples think of the toast and having bubbly at the wedding But the first step is that it doesn’t have to be champagne to be either tasting good or classy.

Liza: Right.

Natalie: So what I brought today is Segura, which is a Spanish bubbly made with champagne methods and it’s a fraction of the price. But if we keep going to, along here we’ve also got a bubbly from Niagara, and again it’s made, often from the same grapes as they use in Champaign. Same methods but you know where champagne clocks in at about 65 -70 dollars, this one is about 50, this is about 25.

Liza: Often if I want to have some bubbly around the house or anything like that, I go for a Prosecco rather than a champagne.

Natalie: Exactly. Italy is another great source so, Italy and Spain really compete on value bubbly, taste great. They’re dry, your guests will love them.

Liza: Okay very good and that is, we’re moving on, how do you know how much white to buy, how much red to buy.

Natalie: Right.

Liza: Is it depend, dependent obviously, on the number people but also on what you’re serving?

Natalie: Yes. So if you have an idea of your guests preferences, red/white even spirits, liquors, that sort of thing, that does help. But if you don’t, if you’re not sure how much they’re going to drink, and keeping in mind there are going to be people who don’t drink alcohol at all. I calculate about half bottle of wine per hour of a sit-down meal.

So, you can do that and I find these days that more red wine is consumed than white wine when I ask people for interviews and that sort of thing. And so I would go with a 60/40 split on the red side, yes I would. And then for food pairing, you want to choose wines that go with a lot of different dishes. So that’s why I have like a Sauvignon Blanc that doesn’t have any oak on it.

wedding wine

Liza: This is one of my absolute favorites, Kim Crawford.  It’s hard to beat, it’s so good and it’s so easy.

Natalie: Exactly. New Zealand its crisp its mouth watering that’s why it’s food friendly. It doesn’t have that heavy oak and alcohol. So that’s what you’re looking for palate pleasers, both in the white and the red. On the reds here, both wines are under 20 dollars so you’re not breaking the budget. That Sterling Merlot, Merlot had a tough time after the movie Sideways.

Liza: It’s shocking how much that movie, like took, gave a huge hit to the Merlot market.

Natalie: Exactly, but Merlot is a great wine is a great party wine because it’s smooth. That’s a snob – are forgetting the fact that it doesn’t have much to it. But it does, it’s smooth, it’s like an easy jazz wine, but it’s also a great party wine.  The BV is a Cabernet from Napa Valley but it’s surprisingly well priced. So there’s a nice mix of reds and whites that won’t break the budget.

Liza: Right, exactly. And then what do we have finally over on this end?

Natalie: Now we’re looking at gift wines. So you’re going to the wedding with a party, and you want to bring a hostess gift, so these wines are about 25 to 35 dollars and you want to give them something nice. And what I like to give is a wine from the couple’s heritage if I can. So if it’s an Italian couple, the Ruffino from Italy is a nice choice.

And again, we have a Napa Valley Cabernet. Guess it could be from anywhere, but California, whatever, but these are great gifts wines. And the way you can personalize it further is get it signed at the winery by the winemaker if you can say, especially if you’re going to Niagara,  and couples too can get their own labels made in Niagara to celebrate their wedding as well if you like personalized.

Liza: Oh that’s great.

Natalie: Yes.

Liza: And then finally, the Sterling on the end.

Natalie: That is from Napa Valley, it’s  a terrific value even though it’s higher prices but 29 dollars. Wineries, like Sterling, because we have another one here from them, make a range of wine so the they’ll start at the low end of the price spectrum, say 12-13 dollars, and go right up to their premium bottles. And so you get quite a range from price points but the same care and attention to quality, so it’s a great gift.

Liza: You know, speaking of gifts, my best friend came up with the gift I thought, when I got married, which was a beautiful case that you would see, with you know that kind of hay-ish looking stuff inside. A wood box, and that it was a wine to be opened immediately, wine to be open on the first anniversary, the fifth anniversary, in the 10th anniversary. What a smart gift with a little personalized tag explaining that on each.

Natalie: Absolutely, and you could get a wine from the vintage that the couple met or their first apartment, whatever, and the beauty about wine as a gift is that you can give two, unlike toasters, and you know it’s not too much one-size-fits-all. Yeah and they can save it for later. There you go.

Liza: Natalie MacLean, thank you so much.

couple clinking glassesPosted with permission of Global Television.



Leave a Reply