Bottom Line/Personal: For all the brides out there, how do they go about picking a wine and a Champagne for their celebration?

Amy Dixon: It’s a daunting task for a lot of people, but it doesn’t really have to be. It really depends upon the season in which you’re getting married. Obviously in the winter, you might want to go with something a little more full-bodied and a little bit richer. In the summer, you might want to go with something a little lighter and more refreshing and pair it with the cuisine that you’re serving at your wedding.

But for Champagne and sparkling wine, it really depends upon your budget. If you are on a really tight budget and you’re looking at a $10 bottle or even less for a sparkling wine, there’s no reason you need to go anything above that. Prosecco is a wonderful, wonderful alternative. And for a champagne toast, you’re going to get 10 toasts out of a bottle of champagne. An average case of wine has 60 glasses, so you’re looking closer to 80 to 100 glasses for sparkling wine, which is great for you if you’re on a budget for your wedding.

And then for white and red wine, obviously you want to think about the food that you’re serving, but if you need something that’s going to be versatile enough to take you from your cocktail hour into your dinner, you don’t want to go with anything too heavy.

I always recommend a lighter dry white—like a Viognier or a Sauvignon Blanc or something along those lines, a Viura from Spain. Anything light and crisp, because that’s going to have acidity…it’s going to have fruitiness, it’s going to be balanced. Even Pinot Grigio is not a bad way to go. I would recommend those over Chardonnay. While Chardonnay is lovely and can be wonderfully delicious, it can be very heavy for hors d’oeuvres, so it’s not as versatile of a white wine.

And then for a red wine, I would talk about doing Pinot Noir or a lighter style of Malbec, only because it’s going to go with a variety of cuisine. Again, it’s going to have light to medium body and be very versatile.

Bottom Line: Does somebody have to bust their budgets on these things?

Dixon: It’s entirely up to you. I mean, I have some special wines that I’m saving for that big day when it happens for me someday. And really, you have to think about your audience. Are they going to care that you’re serving $7 a bottle Viura from Spain, or would some of them find that really cool and geeky and fun? Or do they just want a sweet, syrupy, oaky glass of Chardonnay? Is that what they’re looking for?

Really think about who you’re catering to… who your audience is. And then if you’re on a really tight budget, keep it in that budget-friendly price point and then stick a couple of bottles behind the counter for your waiters to serve to you at your head table.

Bottom Line: Actually, that raises a good point. During cocktail hour, where people really are paying attention to what’s being served, do I use the “good stuff,” we’ll call it, during cocktail hour, and then when it’s being served during dinner, switch to a more budget-conscious wine?

Dixon: Depends upon your audience, but I really tend to stick with a lighter white and red that will take me from cocktail hour into dinner.

Bottom Line: So just one. Make it easier.

Dixon: Just make it easy. Keep it simple. Because people tend to drink cocktails, they have beer, depending upon how hot it is outside. So you may end up with a lot of waste. If you don’t have a wine shop that has a liberal return policy or if you’re doing it at a country club and they’re charging you a certain rate per head, that can really blow your budget. So you want to make sure that you have something that’s versatile to take you into both if you can.

Bottom Line: Great. Thank you.

Dixon: My pleasure.

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