Wine Etiquette in Weddings

Gone are the old, but simple wine pairing rules of red wine with red meat and white wine with fish and poultry. Today’s complexity of multi-ethnic and subtly flavored foods, in addition to a wide variety of wines from around the world that is easily available, are giving way to new wine-food paring tips and suggestions. These have become the hard and first rules. It now allows for considerable room to experiment and express your wedding personality; from pure adventure, to a celebratory and triumphatic mood and anything between this. Soraiya Meghji of The Wine Shop Kenya offers some guidelines on wine and food paring and the basic etiquette to go with it.

Given that there will be quite a variety of both a large variety of servings to choose from and most probably all prepared with different themes, you can start by considering the season and weather forecast; drinking habits take an interesting pattern in tandem with weather patterns. For instance, during the cold and chilly days, people tend to drink more red wine; consider a mix of about 50% of red wine for a cold season or cold destination wedding. On the other hand, guests on a hot day will tend to drink more white wine; consider a mix of 30% each of all three styles of wine. You might also think about serving  rosé, especially if you’re serving fish or seafood.

Another factor that will guide you is the venue of your party; people will tend to drink more red wine in an indoor wedding than while celebrating vows out in the sun; for outdoor weddings consider a higher percentage of white wine.

Always remember to get a sparkling wine for your toast but the rest of the wine is up to you based on food items, theme, budget and personal preference.  Consider the following:

  • Who’s attending (non-drinkers, young people, older relatives)
  • If you’re serving rich meats for dinner consider a full bodied red wine ,
  • If you’re serving fish as the main, consider selecting a rose or a crisp sauvignon blanc.
  • Think about the time of year and time of day and the theme (black tie, casual, tropical)

Red wine is a classic crowd favorite and will be about 50-60% of a wedding wine purchase. It’s one of the wines where if you find you have a lot left over, then you can just store it and enjoy it after the wedding. Choosing the perfect ‘crowd pleaser’ red wine is actually a lot of fun.


As important as the Champagne toast is, most folks won’t drink more than a half-glass of sparkling wine. So unless your wedding attendees are all bonafide Champagne hounds, you don’t have to buy that much. You just need enough to fill glasses to half way; about 1 bottle per 8-10 people.

If the toast happens during the day or outside, consider getting aromatic sparklers such as Prosecco, Cava, or sparkling Rosé.

  • If the toast is happening at night or inside, look towards richer styled sparkling wines such or classic French Champagne.
  • The best man usually makes the toast and can trained to correctly open the champagne, the pop sound is considered a novelty and a sign of class with champagne.
  • Couples should raise their glasses and lightly clink their glasses in a polite toast to their future. Avoid pulling comical stunts which could result in embarrassing incidents. Its good to practice before your wedding day.

Toast etiquette: Who should call out the first toast at the wedding reception and to who?



A Champagne toast is a public gesture to appreciate something, but it does more than just that: it unites a group of people. A toast can be so appealing that everyone attending will feel good. How do you do it? You’ll need enough sparkling wine and some inspiring themes for what to say that will bring everyone together.

The secret to toasting is to remember that everyone wants to be appreciated. When thinking about what to say, choose a theme that ties everyone together.

  • Family: toast to good happiness and  health
  • Friends: toast to enduring togetherness
  • Work party: toast to appreciation and  thanks
  • Wine People: toast to the next bottle!
  • Wedding: a toast to the future that holds bountiful love and hope for the happy couple.

So how much wine should you purchase for your guests? Let’s say the wedding will have 100 guests. If you divide the number of guests by 2.15 you should expect to get about 46 bottles of wine for the event. Make sure when you order to round up by the case. This should make a good basic ratio of wine is to guests regardless of the numbers.

If you’re looking into buying your own wedding wines, then you’ve already taken the smartest step forward by caring enough to find out more.

Wine is a highlight to a wedding, so it’s a great idea to find one that’s right for you. Keep your budget in mind as well, just how much liquid wine do you need at the party; you can then figure out what fraction of the budget will go into this fair merry making!

This article first appeared on the Samantha`s Bridal Wedddings Magazine Issue 24

Written by Soraiya Meghji 


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