If you ask any bride, between the veil type and the wine type, she will give more importance to the first problem. Unfortunately, this approach will not improve the value of the wedding or that of the gift, for those who care about this aspect. Most brides-to-be know precisely how their wedding dress and floral arrangements should look like, while the grooms and parents are more focused on the budget. In this war of power between the aspiration for perfection, quality, and costs, the wine often becomes a collateral victim.
Why does wine take a back seat at weddings?
Lost among other aspects such as location, menu, live band or floral arrangements, the wine becomes a Cinderella of the wedding agenda, often included in the catering package, or the “others” category.
Although choosing a good wine can influence the success of the party more than choosing the perfect tone for the color of the invitations’ envelopes, the lack of wine knowledge of the grooms and of those who make the final decision (godparents, parents) leaves the drink sector neglected many times.
If for all the other services the bride and groom feel the need to call on specialists (photographers, make-up artists, invitation designers, floral and clothing designers), the choice of wine does not usually benefit from the advice of a professional. This choice is left mostly to the restaurant, which generally has substantial commercial interests and focuses on cost reduction.
The lack of involvement in the choice of wine is also because the array of options seems intimidating.
What is a “fancy wedding”?
In short, there are three characteristics of an elegant party: the coherence with the theme, the attention to detail, and the correlation between price and quality. These are reflected in every aspect of the celebration, but we will focus only on the wine.
Any such party will feature at least one sparkling wine, one white wine and one red wine. For added sophistication and diversification, rosé or dessert wines can be added to the list, although a sparkling wine can also be used successfully for the cake.
Suitability means choosing wines in tune with the season, the menu and the location.
Traditional weddings may have a list of wines from Romanian varieties, for example:
- Sparkling wine from Frâncușă / Feteasca Albă (summer) or Crâmpoșie Selecționată (winter);
- White from Feteasca Albă (summer) or Feteasca Regala (winter);
- Rosé from Busuioacă de Bohotin / Tămâioasă Rosé;
- Red from Fetească Neagra/Negru de Drăgășani/ Băbească neagră;
- Desert: Tămâioasă Românească.
Modern weddings can adopt an international wine menu, a suitable combination being:
- Sparkling wine: Prosecco (summer), Cava or Champagne (winter);
- White from Riesling / Sauvignon Blanc (summer) or Chardonnay (possibly oaked) (in winter);
- Rosé de Provence;
- Red from Merlot / Pinot Noir (summer) or Cabernet Sauvignon / Tempranillo (winter);
- Desert: Tokaji.
Each of these wines must be carefully chosen according to the proposed food. It is a good idea for the happy couple and another pair to do a tasting, both of the food and the wines, in combination.
Attention to details
Although many couples are tempted to buy bulk wine or Bag-in-Box due to cost concerns, these are going to be served from carafes. For an elegant wedding, this approach is not recommended.
The first reason is an aesthetic one; the choice of quality wine is also reflected in its packaging, which gives the guests extra confidence that they get a premium product.
The second reason why many restaurants do not even accept the bulk wine brought by the bride and groom is that they often do not have the proper documentation, regarding the origin and the quality.
Last but not least, serving a carafe wine can harm the perception of quality because it changes its temperature much faster, and it cannot be put into a beater. Nobody wants hot white wine or rosé.
The quality/price ratio and an estimator
Many restaurants offer pre-set menus, in which the generic wines are included in the open bar. The chosen options belong to the low-quality collections. If you want a truly memorable event, ask for a personalized wine offer, according to the menu, or ask what is the venue’s policy regarding the wine purchased from reputable distributors. It is possible to pay a cork tax.
Feel free to ask a sommelier or consultant to make a wine list within your budget.
The question that is on the lips of all those who organize their wedding is how much wine is needed to make sure it is enough, but not in excess. Although not all guests drink the same or the same type of wine, the calculations are done by the total number of guests.
A generous estimation consists of 150 ml of sparkling wine at the reception of guests, cake and possibly in cocktails, 200-300 ml of white wine, 150-180 ml of rosé, and 150-200 ml of red. These quantities are on the upper end; it adds up to over a bottle of wine per guest.
If you want a more realistic estimation of the costs of wine for the wedding, you can use the calculator. It does not include calculations for other drinks, such as juices, beer, spirits, and coffee.
Please make sure you buy wine from a distributor that accepts returns and that the restaurant staff only opens the bottles as they are drunk.
Trends and choices inspired by wine
To find out the latest wedding trends, we discussed with Ioan Cristian Popa, CEO at Belvedere Events, a premium events center of the namesake hotel and Cristian Iliescu, CEO at Heldsdorf Mansion, a bohemian and exclusive location, both from Brasov. The two are passionate about wines and are the organizers of the Vin la Brasov Festival. Also, whenever their program allows, they get personally involved in choosing the drinks which are served during the events.
Cristian Popa mentioned that there is a clear evolution of tastes and demands. In 2004-2005 the carafe wine was preferred, with 80% of the wine being white, usually off-dry, ten years later he observes a migration towards the bottled Romanian table wine, yet on the cheaper end.
Right now, he says that the public has become much more demanding and prefers premium Romanian wines or imported wines. Belvedere guests agree to pay an additional cost of 5-7 lei/guest to enjoy wines from Greece, Italy, or France. From the informal discussions with the bride and groom, it seems that this is a good investment because a premium location and an exquisite menu increase the gift by 50-100 lei/guest.
He also noticed an increase in the importance of rosé in recent years. The proportion is 50% white, 30% rosé and 20% red in the hot season, respectively 35% white, 30% rosé and 30% red in the cold season. The consumption of sparkling wine is constant.
On the other hand, Cristian Iliescu told us that he sees an increase in interest for cocktails, to the detriment of wines. He said to us that consumers’ preferences are mainly white wines, even in the cold season.
Both recommended that the menu for an elegant wedding should contain between 5-6 wines, in harmony with the dishes and the season of the event. The lists their locations create usually include a dry white wine, an off-dry white, a dry rosé and possibly a semi-sweet dessert, a dry red wine, and a dry or extra-dry sparkling wine.
As more and more wineries develop their touristic side, you can even think of a wedding in such a unique location. In this case, you can benefit from special prices on quality wines, but also with unique decor.
If the bride and groom want to add extra personalization to the event, bottles with unique labels can be ordered, some using them instead of wedding favors.
Since biblical times, the quality of the wine was emphasized at a wedding. The expectations did not change; they just adapted.
Behind the keyboard...
Silvia Palasca- web dev by day, wine storyteller by night (or the other way around)
Hello, I'm Silvia, wine and travel enthusiast. Looking to turn my passions into a lifestyle. As I writer and web designer I thrive on great sips and epic scenery. WSET Level 2 graduate, I love writing, talking and analyzing wine. If you have a project in mind, let's talk!