Counting Down to the Big Day

It’s not happening until the last Saturday in September, but I’ve already been working on my assignment for my friend’s wedding day: “doing the wine.”

In this case, there’s no fancy dinner to worry about. That would have added another layer to the planning process: finding wines that would complement the food being served. Fortunately for me, my friend has left that task to the host restaurant’s wine director.

(Actually, there was no choice involved here. The restaurant—and this is fairly typical when it comes to big parties—does not allow wine to be brought in. Guests must order from the restaurant’s wine list, a policy that virtually guarantees a profitable evening for the owner.)

Thus, my lone job is to procure the wine for the post-wedding reception. Following the tips included in Wednesday’s and Thursday’s blogs, I’ve already made most of the important decisions.

Today, I thought it might be useful to share some of the notes and observations I’ve made along the way. Hopefully, they’ll help you avoid some of the pitfalls involved in “doing the wine”…

  • I asked my friend for a head count for the reception. They’re inviting 220 people. Of course, not everybody is going to be able to attend, so I immediately chopped that number to 200.
  • A day passed before I remembered to ask the all-important follow-up question: How many kids? Specifically, how many people under the age of 21? The answer: about 30. Thus, my “working head count” drops to 170.
  • Will there be a full bar set up? No. The head count stays at 170. Thus, the bottle count should be right around 85—which works out to about seven cases (at 12 bottles per case).
  • Because this is a “warm weather” wedding, it’s probably best to go with four cases of white wine and three cases of red.
  • Budget: $5,000. That works out to an average of a little more than $41 per bottle. Sweet! I can have some fun with this. But don’t forget shipping, which usually works out to about $2 per bottle. So now we’re down to around $39 per, including tax.
  • I won’t share the brand names or the individual prices because selection and price can vary widely by region. But here’s what I ultimately came up with: one case of Sauvignon Blanc, one case of “unoaked” Chardonnay, one case of Moscato, one case of Merlot, one case of a Rhone-style blend (made in California), one case of Chianti Classico Reserva, and one case of a Sangiovese-based rosé.

The three white wines and the rosé all serve the same basic purpose: refreshment.. We’ll give them all a good chill, and if the day turns out to be as hot as historic weather records say it should, guests will be gulping down those wines.

For those who don’t drink wine on a regular basis, the Moscato probably will be a big hit because of its sweetness. The rosé also should be popular because, while fermented dry, it projects plenty of sweet fruit flavor.

Among the reds, it would not surprise me at all if the Rhone-style blend emerged as the favorite. Like the rosé, it’s all about sweet fruit. The Merlot is my “safe” choice, as it has become the “go-to” red for many people. And because I got good prices on the Moscato and rosé, I was able to splurge on the Italian wine, and provide the handful of wine lovers in the group with something special.

How will it all play out? Only time will tell. But having been the “wine guy” for a number of such events through the years, I’m pretty confident that my basic “formula” is sound.

Ultimately, at the end of the big day, if my friend and his bride are happy, I’ll be happy.

Posted in Wine Tips
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