As a healthy food blogger and a native Californian, it’s only natural that choosing the food and wine for my wedding is on the top of my excitement list. When you’re throwing a party for over a hundred people, though, it’s hard to know where to start. As part of my ongoing collaboration with Style Me Pretty, I was lucky enough to meet up with Chris, the owner of Long Meadow Ranch, a Napa winery that uses only organic grapes to produce some of the best wines I’ve ever had. Over a few glasses on the winery’s beautiful property, he shared a few of his best tips for choosing wine from your wedding, from what grapes go with what types of food to how many bottles you should purchase.
Here are a few of my favorite tips:
- Start with what you love. While some may urge you think about your guests, Chris sees wine as a way to express your particular taste as a couple. You can use it to dictate what you serve, or, at the very least, where you put your attention and spend your money. If you love big, spicy wines, splurge on a Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon, and save on the other choices. Your guests will appreciate the individuality.
- Consider the time of year. In the summer, Chris recommends lighter grapes that are a bit more refreshing in the heat. For whites, he likes sauvignon blanc, and for reds, he prefers Pinot Noir. In the winter, when the temperatures are a bit lower, a heartier grape might feel more appropriate – Chris suggests trying a Chardonnay or a Cabernet Sauvignon. In the winter, people will generally drink more red wine and in the summer, people will generally drink more white, so consider that when figuring out how many bottles of each to purchase.
- Consider the time of day. You’ll likely want a lighter wine – again, the sauvignon blanc or the pinot noir – for an afternoon wedding, while a heavier wine would work wonderfully after the sun goes down and temperatures cool off.
- Figure out your headcount, and then add a little more. As a general rule, you’ll want to assume that each guest over the legal drinking age will consume a little bit more than two glasses, but think about your friends and family. While it may be strange to consider the drinking habits of your friends and family, it’s far worse to run out of wine mid-reception. If your guests are on the heavier drinking side, think about supplying three or even four glasses per person. It’s always better to err on the side of having too much – you can always take them home and use them to stock that fancy new wine rack you registered for!
- Think about what you’re serving. Chris stresses that you shouldn’t worry too much about this – chances are no wine that you choose will hurt the flavor of the food, and, unless you’re doing a ten-course tasting menu with a sommelier, it probably won’t drastically enhance the flavor either. There are, however, a few things to think about when it comes to matching your wine with your menu. Sauvignon blanc is great with oysters, seafood, spicy foods, while Chardonnay works well with salmon, poultry and scallops. Pinot noir will go well with poultry, lamb and pork, while Cabernet will make all of the meat eaters happy, pairing beautifully with steak and other red meats.
- Go tasting! Perhaps the most obvious advice, but one that many couples somehow forget. The best way to figure out what you love is to taste as much as you can. Grab your fiance and spend the day doing the fun part of wedding planning (because it can be so easy to get caught up in the stress of it all!) by hitting up a few wineries near you. No tasting rooms near by? Purchase a few bottles from a local wine shop, or order some that look good online (all of Long Meadow Ranch’s wines are available for purchase on their website).
After a long day tasting, I decided I couldn’t decide. During our cocktail hour, which is outside in the late afternoon, I’ll be serving Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot noir; later, when we move to the farm tables for our dinner under the stars and the cool breeze starts to come in off the ocean, we’ll pop the corks on the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. No such thing as too much of a good thing, right? Now tell me: what’s your favorite type of wine? And for my fellow brides and grooms to be: what do you plan to serve at your wedding?
Special thanks to Reinna from Christian + Reinna, for being the best videographer on the planet, and Chris and Farley at Long Meadow Ranch, for producing such AMAZING wines and sharing their expertise.