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Jun 18, 2009 10:43 AM

How much wine?

The scenario:
A casual outdoor wedding - 100-ish guests, including maybe 10 to 15 children.

The food (dinner):
Burgers, salmon, some vegetarian main dish, salads and casual desserts (tarts, pies, cupcakes, fruit, etc.)

Late July. Early evening (5-ish) until late. Arrival Pimms cocktails followed by ceremony, bubbly toast, and then buffet dinner with wine. Party, dancing, music until late.

The dilemma:
How much wine to buy? We have chosen a rose cava for the bubbly toast, one red, one white and a vinho verde. Totally confused about how much of each will be required. Any experienced folks out there who can advise? There will also be a canoe full of beer and soft drinks as well.

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  1. Approximately 25 ounces in a 750ml bottle of wine, or five 5-ounce pours (which is pretty standard). So you have to determine how many people will drink alcohol, and how many of those will drink wine instead of beer. And you are serving burgers...

    Will you be refunded for unopened bottles of wine? Some folks will do that for you.

    It's alwyas nice to not run out of anything. Then, again, it's also nice to not risk anyone drinking too much then driving.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Brad Ballinger

      Yes, we can return unopened bottles - so that's good.

      It's really hard to know how much and what people will drink. Some of it will, of course, depend on the weather. Hot day - I guess more beer and white. So far, my thinking is this:
      24 bottles red
      24 bottles still white
      15 bottles (?) vinho verde (do you think - or should I go a full 24?)
      20 bottles rose sparkling for the toast

      There will, as I said, be plenty of beer, soft drinks, sparkling water etc., etc.

      We have arranged a bus to bring guests to and from our house, so not all that much driving will occur. And in general, this is a pretty sedate bunch (except for my own kids who will drink everyone under the table but they'll be staying here so it's only their heads that will care what they do).

      1. re: Nyleve

        That's 415 glasses of wine. I don't think you'll go through that much. And vinho verde is pretty much just a second white wine, probably lighter and crisper, though, than your other one.

    2. As a general rule, we usually figure on half a bottle per person at a large function. This is not an exact science, but has proven true in the past. Some will drink more, some will drink less (some will be the DD), some will opt for just beer, soda or water which you are also providing. I would make sure to have enough of the sparkling for a glass for every adult for the toast. The Vino Verde will often be the least expensive wine, so if you want the comfort of a margin of error in your estimate, overbuying the V V is the likely the least costly way to have additional capacity. It will usually be the lowest alcohol option also, which can be a plus.

      1. How long is the reception, do you think? You don't want to run out. In general, I would plan 2 drinks first hour, 1 1/2 drinks each additional hour per drinker -- yes, that is quite a lot, but it is a wedding and people tend to drink quite heavily at said events... and, at a wedding with no hard liquor, assume 60% wine, 40% beer.

        It is good that you can buy from a retailr who will except returns. So err on the side of too much! I'm a little bit confused by " white and a Vinho Verde." You know Vinho Verde is a type of white wine, right?

        If you think it will be warm, red wine will account for only about half of the total wine consumption for the evening. Maybe even less. (Red normally accounts for close to 2/3 of wine consumption.)

        Will the Cava be available throughout the night? Deffinitely makes a difference.

        Grouping Vinho Verde and white wine into one category, and assuming the Cava will be available throughout the night, and reading that you are going late...

        I would get 3 1/2 cases of red 2 1/2 cases each of the Cava and white wine. If you are doing two white wines, I'd go higher on that with 1 1/2 cases each, at least. If that is the case, you can probably draw down the red t a solid 3 cases. If it will be quite hot, up the white and lower the red. @ 78f at night people who are dancing will not be drinking red wine en masse. It is overkill, but you can sell back whatever you don't drink to your retailer, so err on the side on drunken debauchery. It is a WEDDING!

        4 Replies
        1. re: whiner

          Thanks for that really detailed reply.

          First, yes, I know that the vino verde is a white. But it seems like an apt summery touch, given the other white has a bit more substance. And the cava will only be served as a toast after the ceremony. I believe the guests are invited for around 5 p.m., with a Pimms cocktail and light finger thingies served before the ceremony. Then there will be proper hors d'oeuvres, the bubbly toast and buffet dinner followed by dancing until whenever. I expect it to go to midnight or beyond.

          We think we'll put a bottle of each red, white and verde on each table for dinner. These can be replaced if they go empty, and there may be a bartender looking after the wine after the meal.

          I think this is what we will do: 2 cases red, 2 cases still white, 2 cases verde, 1-1/2 cases cava. Works out to about the same as what you suggested. I've gone a bit shorter on the red because of the possibility that the weather will be very hot. I can always pick up another case of something just beforehand if it looks like it's not going to be a scorcher.

          I'm not expecting too much drunken debauchery. The bride's family is English, the groom's family is from California via the middle east. They're kind of, well, not rowdy people. But we'll do our best to lower the tone as much as possible.

          1. re: Nyleve

            I've started laying in a case or at least a mixed quantity of VV just prior to the hot summer months just because it is low alcohol, dry, and refreshing with that hint of effervescence.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Our experience is that bottles that have damaged labels cannot be returned, so be sure to ice the whites on an as-anticipated basis. Have fun!

              1. re: Sarah

                that's what i was thinking, too. the returned bottles need to be in saleable, intact condition.

                (i'm intrigued by the fact that 2/3 go for red wine, in other than hot weather).

          2. Roughly, I plan on 1 btl per guest. Depending on the anticipated length of the wedding party, that might hold up. Also, with other drink options, you can probably get by at 0.75 per person. Go longer than anticipated - yeah, it can happen, and you're back up to the full bottle.

            Good luck,


            PS gotta' watch those "children," as they can get into the wine too.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt

              >>>>PS gotta' watch those "children," as they can get into the wine too.<<<

              bill, are you suggesting that nyleve might want to conduct an inventory the day before the wedding, to ensure that no bottles have "gone missing"?

              1. re: alkapal

                Oh yeah. The worst was one Labour Day potluck corn roast where the "children" were snatching full bottles of wine out of people's coolers and going down to our woods to get smashed. And by smashed, I mean smashed. At the time we kept horses and the next day we found broken bottles strewn around the horse pasture. Boy did I have a meltdown. There were more than a few shamefaced teenagers roaming our fields with work gloves, a wheelbarrow and a couple of very pissed-off parental units.

                This weddng definitely isn't going to be that kind of crowd.

                1. re: alkapal

                  Well... it might not hurt! [Grin]

                  Actually, my tongue was in my cheek, or maybe in my glass of Cab-blend.

                  Now, I was once a child, as odd as that may sound to many, who know me now, and there were instances where bottles "went missing." Maybe that was where I got my start.

                  Besides, a bit of overage of nice wines is not a bad thing. When I was married (when Queen Elizabeth was but a wee lassie), we ended up with a very mixed case of wine from the event. We used it over the first few weeks of marriage, and it did not go to waste.


              2. The easiest way to figure the math, there are 60 glasses in a case of wine, so how many glasses do you want available? I always over estimate too. So let's say you want 300 glasses of wine, this would be 5 cases of wine, I would go 3 white and 2 red, on the Cava, just for a toast... 2 cases would be plenty, because you serve half of a glass and that would compensate for the bubble drinkers!! You know your crowd, so you might want to load up and get 4 cases of white and 2.5 cases of red..

                Pimms cocktails are a great start and if the Cava is inexpensive enough keep that flowing too!!! This sounds like a party crowd to me, most people go to weddings for the booze, give the people what they want!!!!!! Don't put too much thought in this, if you run out of something, the boozers will move on to the next one, no worries.. and if you have any wine left, send it home with your friends and family, you could even make your own labels on the computer and stick them on each bottle..

                If you have enough time, Jacob's Creek has a program where they make celebratory labels and their sparkling rose is good. check out their website and see if they still do that.
                Happy Wedding!!! Sounds like a lot of fun.

                6 Replies
                1. re: waitress

                  waitress, she said it was not a party crowd, for what its worth.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Well, when the invitations go out, and the guests start to arrive, they may not be a "party crowd," but after some fun, some good wine, and a wonderful couple tying the "knot," who knows what they may turn into?


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      out come the cougars and the castanets?

                      1. re: alkapal

                        English cougars with castanets?!? Yikes. The mind boggles. I can't wait to see what the bride's widowed aunt turns into after two Pimms cocktails.

                        1. re: Nyleve

                          those pimms on a hot day will fool ya! especially when the english aren't used to u.s. summer heat.

                          and here's why you should keep the booze away from the kiddies:

                        2. re: alkapal

                          Yes. Living near Scottsdale, AZ, I can easily imagine that. Gotta' be the "courgar captial" of the US, or at least in the top 5.