Buying wine for your wedding can be quite intimidating especially if you’re just getting into wine. You already have enough stress planning a wedding and choosing wine may seem like a grueling task but it can be a lot of fun! It can also take your wedding guest experience from ordinary to extraordinary.

If you’re buying local Niagara wine why not make a trip out of it and visit a selection of wineries tasting wines and creating a unique experience. Explore the heart of Niagara’s Wine Country with your beloved with intimate wine tastings followed by a stay at a local B&B.  Revisit your experience and make it an annual tradition in celebration of your wedding day!

Before you get started…

Sit with your partner and answer some questions:

  1. What is our theme? Example: Elegant, sporty, casual show stopping, trendy, new age.
  2. What are our wine buying needs? Examples: Just 1 bottle of white and red on the table. Wine needed at the bar, wine favours or a 5 course wine paired menu?
  3.  Try to calculate how much wine you will need. Usually generous pours will get you 4 glasses per 750ml bottle.
  4. What is our budget?
  5. Where are we getting married? Do they have a liquor license? Do I require a special occasion permit? Is there a corkage fee for bringing in our own wines?

If there is no liquor license you need to apply for a special occasion permit 3 weeks in advance at the LCBO you can get the form online or in the LCBO Store and you will pay a 16% levy fee on any alcohol you purchase. Same for Stag and Doe’s. Corkage fees are what some establishments will make you pay for bringing in wines so make sure to ask as it will affect your budget.

Equipped with your answers, you are ready to let your fingers do the walking. Hop on a computer and scan some of the local wineries and figure out which wineries suit your style and your budget. Most wineries will have a price list posted on their website to help you narrow down your search. Pre book your visits and plan your route so that the wineries can plan to give you VIP service when you arrive.  Be mindful of your time, giving yourself approximately one hour per wine tasting experience (including travel time).  If you place a large order, do not hesitate to ask for discounts on volume. If you are ordering a smaller amount (five cases or less) you can always ask if the winery would be willing to donate a prize for your stag and doe.

When tasting wines always keep in mind what you are having for your menu. You can pair the wine to the whole meal (1 of each bottle per table) using very versatile food wines. Look for Riesling & Unoaked Chardonnay for the whites with a nice balance of sugar and acid to cleanse the palate between your courses. Look for a White that is 1 or 1.5 on the sugar scale or D – Dry which is 1 gram of residual sugar per liter or MD – Medium Dry which is a 2. Dry or 1 is ideal.

Go with a fruiter red if you’re only serving one red wine on the table. For example, a full bodied Shiraz paired with salad or soup is not going to work; the Shiraz will overpower the salad. A fruit forward Merlot, however, will fit in nicely with most courses. Remember you want to work towards wine choices that complement your meal, rather than overpower the flavours of the food.

Another option is to select a wine to match each course. For example: Butternut squash soup paired with Gewürztraminer; Rosé and pork tenderloin; stuffed chicken and Barrel Fermented Chardonnay; and lastly prime rib and Merlot Reserve. When pairing the course you can have a lot of fun writing the menu to place on the table settings: “Once upon a time Butternut squash soup charmed with Gewürztraminer” or “Royal beef tenderloin accompanied by Cabernet Sauvignon and happily ever after chocolate molten lava cake”

Don’t forget the sparkling! Sparkling can add a special touch to any occasion. Serve a glass of sparkling wine to every guest upon entering the wedding reception, and feel free to dress it up and have some fun!  Add freshly cut pieces of fruit that match your wedding colours: Lime, black berry, strawberry, raspberry, peach slice, lemon. Or add a dash fruit juice or food colouring to intrigue your guests.

Whatever you choose it’s your day! Enjoy it! Cheers!