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Wedding wine suggestions?

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Hi folks,
My wedding is later this year in Maryland and I'm trying to decide on what wines to serve, as we'll be providing it ourselves (ie. caterer can't help me because they don't provide alcohol). My fiance and I are big beer drinkers and really don't drink wine much at all, but quite a few of our guests are big wine drinkers and we want to keep them happy. We'll be serving a buffet dinner that includes chicken marsala, prime rib, a vegetarian pesto tortellini dish, and a tossed salad. The reception will run from 6-10pm. I assume we want one red and one white and we want to stay around $10/bottle. I've gone through lists of cheap wines but I get totally overwhelmed. Suggestions?
Thanks in advance for any help!

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  1. First, make sure your vendor or you have plenty of corkscrews for the wine. I once had an event that assumed that since I was providing the wine, I would be providing the corkscrews as well.

    You'll want to offer a white wine and a red wine. Under $10 a bottle is hard, and I'm not familiar with big bulk producers on the east coast that are available, some general ideas:

    1. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (a white wine), can be found around this price range (maybe a little over), I am partial to Matua but Kim Crawford is more widely available. It has name recognition, so people will understand and know what they are drinking. The other popular white wine choices are Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, but it's pretty much impossible to find something palatable for under $10. If someone decides you HAVE to have chardonnay, Chateau St. Michelle makes an OK one.

    2. Red wine is harder. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are probably the most well known varietals. I believe Columbia Crest may make a Cab for around $10. You may want to check the producer "Bogle" makes OK red wines around this price range.

    Australian Shiraz and Argentinian Malbec are also relatively popular and there are offerings in this price range. Not a big fan, however, of any of them in this range.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      Great, thanks! From the reading I did so far I was leaning toward a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay, but I'll look into the Sauvignon Blancs.

      1. re: 922wedding

        Once you've narrowed it down to 5/6 choices, I would highly suggest tasting them yourself. Even if you are not a wine person, if you love food (which I assume you do being on Chowhound), you'll definitely be able to pick up differences between the wines.

    2. I know you may not want to do this, but...

      I can't tell you how often this question comes up and has been answered on this board.
      A red and a white, under $10, etc.

      The answers in those other threads have the info your need. A few people could provide
      ideas here, but not as many ideas as you'll find by reading the threads already on this.

      So, do a search on the wine board, going back all years, with wedding in the title.

      2 Replies
      1. re: maria lorraine

        Thanks for the tip Maria. I guess I didn't chose good search terms before because I did do a quick search before posting and only found a few threads, but doing a few different searches now I do see more results. I also wasn't sure how frequently these suggestions would chance-- ie. a wine that's good one year is no longer recommended the next. But I will take a look at some of the more recent threads.

        1. re: 922wedding

          Also...don't be afraid to ask for advice from a wine store you might like. Or....since you're beer drinkers....ask your friends who like wine to recommend one. You're buying a fair amount of wine, so it's a good sale for them. And they certainly understand that you have a budget. Even a good grocery story with a good sized wine section might have someone you can help.

      2. From what I've observed at weddings and having spent a good deal of time picking my wine list, people generally just want a white, red, or a sparkling. I would second the Sauvignon Blanc recommendation. For a red, I would say a Merlot. Despite the insult from Sideways, Merlot (especially from Europe) is quite neutral, but still with decent character to satisfy serious wine drinkers. Chardonnay should be avoided as most anything from the new world is horribly oaky and trying to find a good Chardonnay that's well-balanced can be very tricky.

        So, for the white, I'd suggest the Sauv Blanc (France, New Zealand, or Oregon Willamette Valley), Macabeo (from Spain), or a Verdejo (like Perro Verde from Rueda). You want something with decent acidity and a hit of floral aspects, while at the same time not being watery with brash tannins due to a fermentation that well awry.

        A Merlot should be more northern like those in France as they're lower in alcohol and more food friendly. If you want to be adventurous, Plavac Mali from Croatia, or Syrah from Spain or Croatia can be quite good.

        For a sparkling, I've been a big fan of the Sofia Blanc de Blancs from Francis Coppola's wineries. It's usually about $18 a bottle and has a good flavor profile that will satisfy both wine snobs and people who "just like the bubbles". Otherwise, Moet Chandon is tasty, but you need to spend upwards of $30 a bottle to get their good level.

        The white shouldn't be about 13% alcohol. The red below 14%. And the sparkling should be 11.5% or it's not really a proper sparkling.

        http://www.vinologue.net/crush/