HOME > Chowhound > Wine >


Inexpensive wines for summer wedding

  • j

Hey all. Trying to get some feedback, as our caterer does not have a liquor license and we will have to choose the wines ourselves for our wedding. It will be a summer wedding with an outdoor component to it. So, we want wines that will be easy to drink on their own, yet match to the food. We are looking to have one red and one white wine. We'd like to keep it under $10/bottle but would go as high as $12 if absolutely necessary. I know there won't be too many oenophile's there, but still would like to do our best to pair the wines reasonably well. The entree choices will be either a horseradish crusted salmon or a hanger steak (not exactly sure how it will be prepared). The hors douvres, which I'm less concerned about pairing with, are a variety including puff pastry, shrimp, crab cakes, mini burgers etc.

We really like sauvignon blanc. Will that stand up to the fish? If yes, we thought the Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc might work and is priced right. Thoughts? Are we better off with a New Zealand or Chilean SB? Others have suggested Torrontes or perhaps something from Spain. What are your suggestions?

For red, what would do well with the steak but still be easily drinkable as a summer wine? How would we do with a Cotes du Rhone or a Malbec?

Any and all suggestions welcome and bonus points if you can suggest a store/distibutor in NYC. I was thinking Astor Wines as I find them knowledgable and well priced, but am open to suggestions.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think the Chateau St. Jean would be fine. For a red, the 2005 Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone was excellent and within that price range. Another choice in that range would be the Paul Jaboulet Cotes du Rhone Parallele 45.

    1. I was married on August 3 2002. Very hot day. I love Rhone wines, but it was way too much for the day, even at cellar temp. I had a Rex Goliath Pinot Noir at a summer wedding a few years ago, medium body, a fair amount of fruit. Quite drinkable. I seem to remember it was about $8. Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio (same grape) are quite nice on a hot day and depending on where it comes from, can be very dry and light or a little rounder and fruitier.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Lenox637

        Columbia Crest Two Vines Shiraz: Widely available, always good-excellent in quality and around $7.00. Would go nicely with the grilled beef.

      2. I don't know if you're interested in doing a search, but there have been many threads in the last year also asking for wedding wine recs. Just scroll up this page to Search This Board,
        and type in:


        Bon Mariage!

        1. when i think of a summer wedding i think prosecco...and another idea instead of red could be a chilled rose.

          1. I would think a nice Rose' would be good for a summer wedding. Seems most of my white wine drinkers jump all over a crisp chilled Rose' at summer functions.

            1. When my Daughter was married last summer, the two wines chosen were Crios Rose of Malbec and St Peyre picpoul de pinet. Fish and chicken where the entrees

              1. For the white, you can get a quality kabinett riesling for around 12. Look for the 2005 vintage, those are really smashing wines. Goes with all the foods you listed and has the added advantage of being very "sippable" on it's own.

                A good $12 red is trickier; Look for a California Zinfandel sourced in Napa or Paso Robles from the exceptional 2003 vintages there. Quite drinkable now. Failing that, look for a 2001 or 2004 Rioja or Ribera. Ask your wine vendor(s) what they have in these vintage years from these regions.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Chicago Mike

                  the cono sur pinot noir would certainly fall in that price range. The Stump Jump is a good white, not sure what it would run in the states, up here in Canada is around the 18$ mark, so it may be close to your value.

                  I second the Crios Rose, it is very nice, great for summer & food.

                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    Last price I saw on the Peachy Canyon Incredible Red was ~US$ 9. It is a lighter, mostly Zin blend and used to swap spots as my "cooking" red - a red wine that you do not mind cooking with, and can also drink, while you cook. Until your post, I had not thought of it. It will not be a "show-stopper," but is a flavorful little Zin-blend. The other "cooking" red used to be the Ravenswood Vintner's Blend, but lately, I have been a bit dissatisfied with it. Rosenblum also does a "vintner's blend," Cuvee something, may XXVX, cannot remember. It has always been a good, low-cost red, Zin. The blend is usually not a varietal blend, but a vineyard blend.

                    Good call,

                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      The Rosenblum Vintner's Cuvee is usually a nice cheap zin. It's designated as a non-vintage wine and can include grapes from different vintages, the roman numeral designation changes every year (from the first date they produced it) and I think they're currently on "XXX"

                  2. I have done a lot of summer weddings, and I suggest a lovely Spanish Cava. the best taste and total qpr is Segura Viudas Aria. it's around $8 per bottle, tastes wonderful, and is so festive.

                    Red is difficult in the summer, especially if you're outside. A sturdy Rose goes well with meat entrees and has quite a bit of heft. bonny Doon's Vin Gris de Cigar is a goodie at a reasonable price. If red is absolutely necessary, I'd look to a Cotes du Rhone.

                    If you want a great SB at a reasonable price point, check out the Babich from New Zealand. Wine Library has it for $8.95 buy the bottle. case price would probably be less.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      Kim Crawford Marlborough SB is not out of the price range, around AZ, and is a good example of that style. Some of the guests might like a more fruit-forward version, say the Murphy-Goode, but I do not recall its price-point.

                      There are alot of Argentenian Malbecs in the OP's price range, though Summer heat can be a bit of a turn-off. Still, we attended a Southern-Hemisphere garden tasting, in AZ, in late August, and I did not seem to mind. OTOH, maybe that was just me.

                      BTW, did the OP say where they were, or did I just miss that?


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        We're in NYC. We also thought of the Kim Crawford, but it generally prices at least $15/bottle around here. More than we were hoping to spend. Are you familiar with the Chateau St. Jean SB? Thoughts?

                        Our concern was also as you mentioned regarding the Malbecs for a summer wedding. Would a Zin or Cotes du rhone fare better or do we have the same problem?

                        1. re: jdf

                          <Are you familiar with the Chateau St. Jean SB? Thoughts?> I'm familiar with it, and I don't think it's as good for the money as the Babich, by a long shot. You should be able to get the Babich for under $10. and imho it's better than the Kim Crawford.

                          1. re: jdf


                            No, I have not tried it. I'm less a fan of many domestic SB's, though there are some, that I love, depending on the food that I'm serving it with.

                            I've got to try the Babich, especially considering ChefJune's rec. in reply to this part of the thread. I used to rate the Cloudy Bay at the top-o-the-heap, but have been a bit disappointed with the most recent vintage, that I picked up. It seems that it has been "tamed" a bit. Do not know if it's a change in practices, or just the difference in the vintage.

                            Off to find the Babich,

                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              I actually tried it based on the strong recommendations of many on this board. I think i still prefer the Kim Crawford for a NZ sauvignon blanc in the pricerange, but for the price range I'm trying to stick to for the event, it may well fit the bill. I'll be curious to hear your impressions. As still somewhat of a wine neophyte, I'm curious as to what it is about the domestic SB's that make you less of a fan?

                              1. re: jdf

                                Great generalization about to follow: I find that too many domestic SB's (and Rieslings) are greatly lacking in character - any character. When the first wave of ABC (then it was "Anything But Chardonnay") hit, too many vineyard owners went to SB, with little or no thought to how the grape needed to be planted, or processed. (Aside: same thing happened when Merlot became a "big thing," and bankers and MBAs told winemakers that they must tear up everything other than, and plant Merlot, 'cause it was "hot")

                                Now, there are really good domestic (US) SBs. I really like the Reserve from Gainey, Groth, Joseph Phelps and several others. Still, there is a lot of wine, that I, personally, find insipid. Just picked up some Biale SB (I am a big fan of Robert Biale), but have not popped a cork yet.

                                I more often find NZ and FR SB to be better, though different from one another. I gravitate towards the NZ-styles, while wife leans towards FR offerings.

                                You also have to take into account, that this is not wife's favorite varietal, so we probably do fewer SBs, than Chardonnay, or other white vairetals. Still, I like these with the proper seafood, and as a starter. That said, we have probably missed some great ones, and I am always ready to taste the ones with good recs.

                                In the NZ-style, I normally love the Cloudy Bay (see note above, re: recent vintages), enjoy the Kim Crawford, the Nautilus and several others. Have not found Babich, but will.

                                For sushi, I am still a great fan of Groth Napa SB, as it has enough fruit (a normal characteristic of "domestic" SBs), good acid, but nothing to detract from the sushi. The fruit is just enough to handle the "heat" from good wasabe, but not enough to overpower the lighter flavors that I expect in sushi. When I see it on a sushi restaurant's wine list, I feel that someone really, really cares. Others might beg to differ, but there is no accounting for personal tastes - mine, or their's.

                                I'll definitely comment, though maybe too late for the event, when I find the Babich.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  If you can find it, you and your wife might find a great compromise in Cloudy Bay's Te Koko SB. It's a native yeast/native ML, barrel-fermented/aged savvy with that same great acid that you find in typical NZ savs and the great roundness you get from a barrel fermented wine. I'm not sure as to its availability in the States, but it was an interesting wine to make.

                                  1. re: winechik

                                    Have not seen this one. Thanks for the rec.. She's less on the "grapefruit & hay" aspect of most NZ SB's, but does enjoy many domestic (US) versions, that are a bit more fruit-forward. Still, CB is a fav. of mine. Will look for the Te Koko SB.


                        2. re: ChefJune

                          We served Babich SB as the white at my wedding and people raved about it. Most of my friends/family drink mostly red (I'll never understand why some people think they don't care for ALL white wine), and were surprised at the food-friendly acidity and zippy fruit flavors the Babich offered. The greatest white in the world? No. A great value for around $10? Definitely.

                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                            for white..i would go with nz sb as stated above:

                            babich sb @ $11.99
                            drylands sb @ $13.99
                            kim crawford @ $13.99
                            nobilo sb @ $8.99 (reg and not the icon)

                            1. re: rickym13

                              I was married on July 21st last year and served a variety of wines, both white and red. One note of caution: among the average North American population, there are MANY more red wine drinkers than there are white. I bought 2/3 red to 1/3 white for the wedding and had LOTS of leftover white wine, almost no leftover red. I was shocked! I had 100 people at our wedding , so it was a decent size sample population.

                              For an inexpensive white wine, I cannot speak highly enough of Chateau Ste. Michelle riesling--about $9/bottle. This is a fruit-forward wine that also offers pronounced mineral notes.

                              For a red, think about a wine from Jumilla such as Bodega Juan Gil "GOS." This wine was a big hit at my wedding. For the masses, you also cannot go wrong with Columbia Crest "Grand Reserve" Merlot, a good pairing with steak.

                              Good luck. And remember, provide lots of beer because that's what will be most popular in summer.

                        3. before you settle in, maybe try a vermentino or an albarino for a still white wine. concur with the prosecco suggestions.

                          1. try going to www.SuVinoWineryAz.com
                            excellent winery with good selection of light, summer compatable wines

                            1. As far as whites go, we love love love Vinho Verde (Casal Garcia in particular) in the summer. It's fabulous on hot days, flavourful, almost effervescent, usually around $4.99/5.99/bottle, and when we serve it to dinner guests they always rave about it.

                              1. I think reds from Spain and Argentina are under appreciated, they are usually on the cheaper side and more than satisfactory.

                                1. OK. So, I think I'm going to go with the Babich SB. For red, I'm probably down to Cotes du Rhone (Perrin Reserve, Parallele 45, Guigal or Bernard) or a zin (Cline or Peachy Canyon). For those who can compare and contrast, please let me know your thoughts as to how these will be to drink alone and with the hanger steak that will be served. Thanks.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: jdf

                                    How about a nice Beaujolais (not nouveau!)...reasonably priced, can be served slightly chilled? They are nice and refreshing for a summer red.

                                    1. re: jdf

                                      Sorry I did not see this until now...

                                      Re: Zin v CdR... interesting question. The Zin is likely to be slightly higher in alcohol and also have more extracted fruit. It may be better to drink on its own but have the downside of getting people slightly drunker. The CdR will pair slighly better with the hanger steak. FWIW, I'd probably take theCline Zin over the Peachy Canyon if I went that route, and I would probably take the Guigal or Bernard over the Jaboulet or PerrinCdRs.

                                      1. re: whiner

                                        Thanks Whiner. We actually locked in our selections a couple of days ago. We went with the Babich Sauvignon Blanc and the Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone. Thnaks to all for your helpful suggestions.

                                    2. If you know that your guest are not huge oenophiles, but would still like a good glass...try:
                                      Cannonball Cabernet..$11.99 smooth easy drinking, finishes a little dry
                                      337 Cabernet from Lodi, CA...a bit more fruit than previous Cab, but still has body $11.99
                                      Black River Pinot Noir/Merlot..$8.99...from Argentina great casual wine
                                      Luzon...$7.99 Monestrall/syrah..great with steaks from Jumilla, Spaiin
                                      Vista Mar Pinot Noir from Chile $8.99...best buy
                                      Vinho Verde is great summer white and inexpensive...Farol $6.99
                                      Dashwood SB from NZ $11.99...2006 just received 90 Points from wine spectator and is delicious. Nice Grapefruit tomes without being too acidic like Kim Crawford
                                      Steenberg SB from South Africa $8.99..
                                      Vilosell 2005 red blend from Spain...91 Points from Parker..GREAT BLEND..Total crowd pleaser
                                      Prosecco...someone mentioned would be nice...Paladen Miles Imato $14
                                      All drink well on their own which is why I posted them...even better with food...

                                      Let me know how yo make out

                                      1. I would go with a Cotes de Gascogne from SW France. Try Domain du Tariquet 70% Ungi Blanc 30% Colombard. A good dry wine with nice fruit. $8.00. Also 2006 Colombelle 70% Colombard 30% Ugni blanc. More fruit, with a dry finish. Both are great summer wines $8.00

                                        1. Barefoot wines are very drinkable and cheap as heck.

                                          I also like the Chateau St. Jean and the Rex Goliath reds

                                          Consider Jacob's Creek as well. Very good and below $10.

                                          1. Thanks for all your helpful suggstions. In the end, we're going with the Babich Sauvignon Blanc and the Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: jdf

                                              Both of these a solid wines and excellent choices for the price range (and better than the wine I have been served at many weddings.) I do not think you will be disappointed.