glass of red wine

Tips for Selecting Your Destination Wedding Wines

February 20, 2023
Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Karolina Grabowska

Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or a novice, selecting the perfect wines for your destination wedding can set the tone for a memorable celebration. Below, Tara Olesky, a Californian sommelier and owner of Tablewine, provides you with tips and tricks on how to choose the right wines for your wedding, including advice on wine pairing, budgeting, and working with local vendors.

  • If you’re factoring in food pairings, keep in mind you don’t want to work with wines that are heavy with oak or alcohol. In general, you want to match the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. i.e. a fatty steak pairs very well with a wine that has a heavier mouthfeel and higher tannins. A light, acidic white is great as an aperitif and with seafood and lighter-style pastas.
  • Planning a destination wedding abroad? Check out the local vineyards! Varietals native to their region are usually crowd pleasers for a number of reasons: they tend to be less expensive, taste lovely since they are made for their microclimate and provide a fun talking point if it’s an unusual grape variety.
  • Tap into a local caterer or venue events coordinator so that you can benefit from using their wholesale discount if they’ve got a caterer’s license with ABC (alcoholic beverage commission).
  • If you’re not having a wedding near wine country, do a little research on what the locals drink and then ask your wedding coordinator to set up a tasting with a few brokers/importers at your venue. I recommend asking about smaller, family-owned producers and you may even want to ask about organic/biodynamic/vegan options.
  • I always suggest serving wines with lower alcohol whether red or white. Aside from drinking responsibly, you want the wines to be well-balanced and you want your guests to wake up refreshed and feeling great the following day! I try to stay between 12.5%-13.8% or 14% at the highest.
  • When making your sparkling selection for the toast, I suggest trying a Cava or a Cremant d’Alsace in lieu of Champagne. (No offense, Champagne!) They come in at a lower price point, although still made using the traditional method, and can be just as lovely.
  • A traditional pour for a full glass of wine is 5-6 ounces. You can make calculations on how many bottles you’ll need to purchase by doing some simple math. There are 25.4 ounces of wine in a regular 750 ml bottle so just take the number of guests you expect and divide by 5. (if you’re going with the 5 oz. pour) Then, add an extra bottle or two for good measure so you don’t run out.
  • Glassware does make a difference in both taste and ambiance for your special day. I suggest using stemmed glassware for both flutes and everyday wine glasses. 
  • Don’t neglect storing and serving temperatures. If you’ve hired a caterer or work with a busy wedding venue, check in with them to make sure they are paying attention to this detail. Always store wines away from sunlight and, if not in a wine fridge, in a room that is below 68 F. In general, whites should be served between 45 F – 55 F (lighter whites should be on the low end), reds should be served between 56 F – 60 F and sparkling between 44 F – 50 F.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to be a wine expert to expertly choose wines for your wedding. Bring a couple of guests from your wedding party and take a general consensus to pick a white, red and sparkling that everyone will enjoy!

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