Creating Your Wedding Beverage Menu

Food

Creating Your Wedding Beverage Menu

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, July 23, 2020

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There's a saying that goes, 'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade'. Well, despite the trials and tribulations of the global pandemic that have loomed large in our lives, love conquers all and weddings, which had been placed on pause, have returned and indeed are returning in spectacular form albeit in reduced numbers.

No better opportunity, we reckon, to share with you how to tweak your bar and beverage offerings to augment your special day and to create a perfect beverage menu suited to the style and tone of your 2020 wedding.

One of the highlights of your wedding day is the elegant sparkly toast to your new lives. Decisions regarding your beverage menu include considering what types of wines, Champagnes/sparkling wines and spirits to select, when to serve them, plus how many bottles to order without breaking the bank. We hope to make the beginning of your new life a little less stressful by providing you with insights on the details to nail down this planning task so you can enjoy one of the happiest days of your life.

 

How Much Is Enough?

First, you will need to consider your guest list. Who have you invited, and do they drink alcohol? Second, you will need to account for those persons who may not drink alcohol, including the children on your list. Here are the standard pours for bottles of wines, Champagnes/sparkling wines, spirits and creams:

Wines and Champagnes/sparkling wines: standard 750ml bottle – 5 to 6 glasses

Creams (eg rum cream): standard 750ml bottle – 5 drinks; litre bottle – 7 to 8 drinks

Spirits: standard 750ml bottle – 22 drinks; litre bottle – 30 drinks

Let's suppose you have 50 guests, you could safely say that you will require 10 bottles of wine (for the meal); 10 bottles of sparkling wine (for the toast); and 2 bottles of each spirit you would like to serve, assuming each person will have one drink. This would be your starting point. Based on your requirements, you could then start to trim away at costs by deciding which types of wines (alcohol and non-alcohol), Champagne or just a sparkling wine, and the number of bottles of spirits. Remember too, that you will be serving other beverages like fruit juice, beers and water. So in fact, not everyone will be drinking the same drinks or quantities. A suggestion is to always have a few extra bottles as you do not want your bar to be out of stock. Leftover bottles can be used to stock your home bar or used as thank you gifts.

 

The Beverage Menu

Depending on the season, and the general colour tone of your wedding, your beverage options may vary somewhat. In this example, I will share two reception options: Option Summer (March to August) and Option Winter (September to February).

 

Option Summer

Pre-reception (while guests await the bridal party): Consider serving a light, refreshing cocktail like a mimosa (orange juice and sparkling wine); glasses of chilled rosé (Provence rosé for a more discerning palate or a sweet rosé for those who like a sweeter taste profile); light flavoured beer (melon or lemon); fruit juices and water.

The Meal: Depending on your menu, you should consider having a mix of red, white and non-alcohol wines. Typical summer white varietals include chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and pinot grigio (pair these with white meats such as fish, poultry, pork, as well as vegan). Typical summer red varietals include merlot, pinot noir, and zinfandel (pair these with red meats such as steaks, mutton, and veal).

The Toast: Your budget will determine how fancy you make this. For summer, I would recommend a medium-dry champagne like GH Mumm Cordon Rouge or Veuve Clicquot (Yellow Label) non-vintage. If you are unable to facilitate a Champagne toast consider reserving 1 to 2 bottles of Champagne for the head table and serve your guests prosecco or another type of sparkling wine instead. Remember, too, to allocate some non-alcohol sparkling like Chamdor non-alcoholic wine.

 

Option Winter

Pre-reception (while guests await the bridal party): Consider serving a poinsettia (sorrel or cranberry juice and sparkling wine); light beer and light flavoured beer (sorrel or lemon); fruit juices and water.

The Meal: Depending on your menu, you should consider having a mix of red, white and non-alcohol wines. Typical winter white varietals include riesling, gewürztraminer, torrontés, and chablis (pair these with white meats such as fish, poultry, pork, as well as vegan). Typical winter red varietals include cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, pinotage and malbec (pair these with red meats such as steaks, mutton, and veal).

The Toast: Again, your choice of bubbly will be guided by your budget. For winter, I would recommend more complex Champagnes like Perrier Jouet Blanc/Rosé, Veuve Clicquot Vintage Blanc/Rosé or Ruinart Blanc de Blanc. If you are unable to provide all guests with a glass of Champagne, consider reserving 1 to 2 bottles of Champagne for the head table and serve your guests prosecco or another type of sparkling wine instead. Remember, too, to allocate some non-alcohol sparkling as well.

 

The After-Party

This list is far from extensive but ought for the most part to include rum, vodka, bourbon, brandy/cognac, and whiskey for your spirits fare, together with standard chasers like tonic water, ginger ale, cranberry, cola (Pepsi) and grapefruit soda (Ting). Then of course, you must have your beers, lagers, pilsners, rum cream, juices and water to round out the list.

The recommendations above are not exhaustive, and you are encouraged to be as innovative as possible. When I planned my wedding reception, for example, my entire menu was paired with Champagne as I had just returned from Reims and wanted that Champagne experience for my guests. You may want just rosé pairings or a 'wine around the world' theme, or even a rum-paired event. Create your own experience. Remember, this will be one of the best days of your life; let it be an memorable experience!

Readers' Grapevine Club: If you are new to wines and want to join us on our wine discovery, then this is for you. On the third Thursday of each month, I will highlight your feedback on our grape variety/vine of the month. For August, we will focus on the amazing zinfandel varietal. Looking forward to your feedback and comments!

 

Readers' Feedback:

Extraordinary wonder and joy are interwoven through ordinary life; seek them relentlessly. Please share with me your wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at debbiansm@gmail.com, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.

 

Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President, Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

Marketing Studies Lecturer – The University of Technology, Jamaica


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