Molloys Guide to Buying Wedding Wines...

Choosing wine for a wedding is one of many items on a long ‘to do’ list. It’s one of the big costs in a wedding reception, and it’s natural to want to get the best possible value for your hard-earned money.

It can be a frustrating too – if you are ‘into’ wine, it’s often easy to get caught up in trying to choose the ‘perfect’ wine which will match the food and suit everyone’s palate. The other challenge is getting the quantities and proportions of red to white correct.

Firstly, calculate how much wine you will need. You should allow 2-3 glasses per person. Expect to get 5 glasses per bottle. Generally speaking, white is more popular than red. A ratio of 3 white to 2 red is typical.

If you are having a sparkling wine reception, allow 1 glass per head, and expect to get 7 glasses per bottle. Many people now opt for a ‘drink of choice’ rather than a champagne toast after speeches.

Okay, so that’s the quantities worked out.

Now let’s look at costs. Weigh up the cost of buying from the list, against bringing in your own wine. Take a deep breath….. then look at the venue’s wine list, choose a wine (see below), and calculate how much the wine will cost.

Your venue will have a policy on wines being outsourced. As wine is very profitable, your venue will often charge a hefty corkage fee to protect their own profit margin. Venues normally charge double the rate for sparkling wines. Ideally, corkage rate should be agreed before the deal is done with the hotel, as corkage negotiation can often be a stark shock for the (previously) happy couple.

The question at this point is, ‘Can I buy wine cheaper?’ or ‘Can I buy better wine for the same money?’ In many cases, the corkage rate is set so that there is little or no benefit in bringing in your own wine, particularly if you are buying wine at the cheapest end of the scale. Bringing in your own wine makes sense for wine enthusiasts who really want to impress their guests. At this stage, you are entitled to sample the wines on offer at the venue – if they are decent, you may be better off buying from the list, and saving yourself a lot of time and effort.

Now let’s look at selecting a wedding wine. While it is your wedding, try to make sure that you choose a crowd-pleasing wine style. Generally speaking, anything too acidic, highly tannic, alcoholic, or just too distinctive is not a good choice. In whites, aim for fruity wines, with medium acidity. Red wines should be medium-bodied, with smooth tannin and decent fruit.

Excellent red wine styles include Côtes du Rhône, southern French reds (Languedoc, Oc, Roussillon, Corbières, Minervois), Rioja (especially Reserva if you can afford it) and Chilean reds (Merlot especially). You will probably want to choose a wine which isn’t always promoted in supermarkets.

Here’s Molloys’ top 5 recommendations for red wine for a wedding:


  1. Domaine Caude Val Merlot
  2. Domaine St. Jacques Côtes du Rhône
  3. Donjon Minervois
  4. Vina Sancho Garces Rioja
  5. La Bastide Optimee Corbieres


White wine favourites include Pinot Grigio, unoaked Chardonnay, French Sauvignon, southern French wines (Languedoc, Oc, Gascony).

Here’s Molloys’ top 5 recommendation for white wine for a wedding:

  1. Albinoni Pinot Grigio Garganega
  2. Domaine Caude Val Chardonnay
  3. Colombelle, Côtes de Gascogne
  4. Sancerre ‘Clocher d’Amelie,’ Jean Max Roger
  5. Macon Villages, Caves de Lugny

None of these should break the bank, and don’t worry about trying to offer a matching red and white.

Prosecco is very popular as a reception wine - easy to drink and affordable. Expect to pay a little more for spumante rather than frizzante.

  1. Borgo da Sassi Prosecco ‘Spago’
  2. Botter Prosecco d’Oc Spumante ‘Extra Dry’
  3. Jean Comyn Brut Champagne ‘Harmonie’

If you decide to source the wines yourself, retailers will offer discounts for bulk purchases.

Hopefully this has simplified some of your questions on choosing wedding wines!