The Ultimate Wedding Wine Guide

By Glou Glou  •  Jan 10, 2019 at 10:28am  •  Lists

Engaged? Or perhaps planning a special soiree? Chances are, you’ll be looking for a venue soon. Then it’s time to pick the outfits, book the caterers and send out the invitations. But something that is often overlooked is the importance of the wine for the evening.

Having recently planned and experienced my own nuptials this past December, Gosia can testify to the fact that even as someone who works within the wine industry, arranging wine for your own wedding can be a daunting and somewhat frustrating item to tick off the list. Yet, you don’t need the aerobatic skills of a tightrope walker to strike the balance between pocket and palate pleasing.

Here’s an easy go-to-guide on how and what to pick for pouring, including some of my own personal lessons. Remember, this is a general rule of thumb, but ultimately wine is about personal preference, and as a wedding is reflection of your personalities, use the following tips as you see fit:

The HOW: 

Tip #1: What’s Your Budget?

If there’s no budget, please proceed to tip #2 (and yay for your lucky guests!). For everyone else, start by checking whether your venue allows you to bring in your own wine and whether they charge corkage and how much. This needs to be taken into your costing calculations.

Then, the most important thing to consider is how much you can afford to spend. Remember that very few people will be analysing the aromas and flavour profile of your wine on the evening, meaning you want to serve good wine, but it doesn’t have to burn a flute-shaped hole in your pocket.

A general rule of thumb is to aim to pay for anywhere between R100 – R200 a bottle, or something like 5% – 10% of your total budget. 

Tip #2: How Much Wine Do We Need?

Is there enough wine? Yes, there is. Especially when you’re paying. Work on six glasses per bottle and generally allow for three glasses per person for dinner. If you want to get technical, to calculate how much wine you need, simply take the number of guests and divide by 2.15. If you’re hosting 120 guests, that amounts to 56 bottles of wine. If you’d like more, go for it, but this is a good estimate to work off, as people tend to over cater.

Bubbles are a little different, as they are generally poured for a toast. You can get away with about 8 servings per bottle. One glass per person for the toast should suffice and then it’s up to you whether you would like to offer guests a drink at reception on arrival. This generally works out at two glasses per person.

Tip #3: What Kind Of Wine Do We Need?

It might be obvious, but you might forget in the midst of all the other to do’s, so a mix of the following wines is ideal for your guests:

  • White wine
  • Red wine
  • Rosé wine
  • Sparkling wine

The kind of wine you need depends on what time of year your wedding takes place.

Spring or summer weddings equal hot days, during which time people prefer white wine, rosé and light reds. Consider a 30% white wine, 30% red wine, 30% rosé and 10% bubbly mix.

During autumn and winter, people tend to opt for red wine as the weather is cold and the venue is typically indoors. Here, consider a 50% red wine, 30% white wine, 10% rosé and 10% bubbly split. If you want to treat your guests, sweet wine can be served at dessert, but this depends on you.

Tip #4: How Do We Pair Our Wine To Our Food? 

White: For salads, fish and light meat, go for whites that are fresh and fruity. That’s it really. A winning choice is Chenin Blanc, as it offers excellent value for money. Of course, old faithful Sauvignon Blanc is also a crowd pleaser. Unusual varieties are sometimes cheaper and pleasantly surprising, like Verdelho or Viognier. Avoid a wine with a high acidity, as this can clash and enhance dishes with chili.

Red: For creamier dishes or red meat, keep it uncomplicated by going for a fruiter, lighter red like Merlot. Light red wines that can be chilled are particularly delightful when paired with red meat, so don’t rule out Pinot Noir, Grenache or Cinsault. Avoid tannic and bold wines unless your dishes are equally big.

Sparkling Wine: Bubbles are best served at the start of a meal or in between dishes, to cleanse the palate.

 The WHAT:
Now for the fun part! Time to buy the wines!

If you’re going to have more than 100 guests at your wedding, it’s advisable to keep it simple and choose one white and one red that will suit most palates. But of course, if you’re a wine lover or having a smaller, intimate wedding, you may wish to offer more variety and wines more specific to the menu being served. 

Top Picks: 


Pocket Friendly: Constantia Uitsig Sauvignon Blanc 2017 | R110 a bottle
Beautiful label and wine at a fantastic price.

Crowd Pleaser: Keermont Terrasse 2016 | R160
An organic Chenin-driven white blend, ideal for people and food pleasing.

Splurge: Thistle and Weed Brandnetel 2017 | R300
The 5-star Platter award-winning new kid on the (vineyard) block.

Wedding Wines

Pocket Friendly: Alphabetical Vin Rosé 2017 | R100
Easy on the eyes, pocket and palate. What more could you want?
Crowd Pleaser: Fairview Rose Quartz 2018 | R106
Really well made rosé that delivers on quality

Splurge: Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses 2017 | R192
Beautiful wine inside and out. The bottle doubles up as table decor as well.

Wedding Wines


Pocket Friendly: Cape Rock Grenache 2016 | R100
Fun, bright label, easy-drinking wine that’s ideal when chilled Link:

Crowd Pleaser: Waterkloof Circumstance Merlot 2012 | R165
Mellow, delicate tannins and nothing left to circumstance

Splurge: Crystallum Peter Max Pinot Noir 2018 | R270
Pinot Noir in its finest form

Wedding Wines


Pocket Friendly: Medici Ermete Lambrusco Dell’Emilia Secco | R115
Add Italian-flair with a delicate sweetness that will please any palate


Crowd Pleaser: Graham Beck Brut NV | R155
You can’t beat the Beck. Accessible and a classic style of bubbly.

Splurge: Le Lude Brut NV | R290
Go big or go home, right? This is an award-winning classic MCC that will wow any guest.



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