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How Much Wine for a Wedding or Event?

by Joy Sterling | Published April 16, 2024

I love planning parties more than actually attending them. Picking the wine is especially fun because the libation sets the tone. Determining the amount of wine depends on the number of guests and their wine preferences and it’s a nuanced balance between estimation and anticipation, ensuring every glass is brimming with celebration and joy. But it’s important to establish how much wine you need for a wedding or an event in advance. I’m here to help.

When calculating the amount of wine you will need for your wedding or event, consider the following factors:

  1. Guest Count: Estimate how many guests will be attending your event. Remember to factor in the percentage of guests who may not be drinking wine.
  1. Duration of the Event: Determine how long your event will last. This will help you estimate how many drinks each guest may consume over that period. For a shorter event, you may need less wine per guest compared to a longer event. I plan on one glass an hour.
  1. Guest Preferences: Consider the preferences of your guests. Are they mostly wine drinkers, or do they prefer other beverages? This will impact the quantity of wine you need. Consider offering a variety of wine options to cater to different tastes. For example, someone like me will stick to bubbly throughout.
  1. Open Bar vs. Limited Selection: Determine whether wine will be the main drink option or if other beverages will also be available. If wine is the primary choice, be prepared to have more bottles on hand. If beer and spirits will also be served, adjust your wine quantities accordingly. Generally, for an event with a full bar, I estimate around 50% wine consumption, 30% beer, and 20% spirits.
  1. Meal Service: If you are serving a multi-course meal, you may want to provide different types of wine to complement each course. Factor in the number of courses you plan to serve. With a different wine per course, I plan for each guest to consume about one bottle of wine during the dinner service. It isn’t all the same wine, but an accumulation – so, a glass or two of bubbly to start, white with the first course, red with the main. For some people, real wine is red wine, and they are likely to drink two glasses of Pinot Noir.

The Rule of Thumb on How Much Wine for an Event

This is what I use to calculate the amount of wine needed for a two-hour event:

(Number of Guests × Number of Glasses per Guest ÷ Glasses per Bottle) = Total Number of Bottles

Example: (100 guests) x (2 glasses per guest) / (5 glasses per bottle) = 40 bottles of wine, but I would probably round up to four cases.

Wine in standard size bottles comes in cases of 12 bottles; magnums come in six packs. For 100 guests, you would generally want 20 magnums. Again, I would round up.

Remember, this is just a general guideline, and the actual consumption may vary based on individual drinking habits. You know your guests best, so trust your judgment when planning the wine quantities. But err on the side of generosity: It’s better to have a little extra wine than to run out during your event. Consider adding a buffer of 10-20% to your final calculation to ensure you have enough for all guests.

The calculus is slightly different for a wedding because bubbly is synonymous with tying the knot (read the history of Sparkling wine at weddings). It is crucial to strike the perfect balance between having enough Sparkling to go around without running out before the toasts begin. The last thing you want is to have empty glasses during the toasts.

To begin, the bride deserves at least one chilled bottle while she is getting dressed to share with her bridesmaids. Then there are the toasts, so that’s a glass per person right there. Everyone wants to raise a glass to love, commitment, the beginning of a new chapter and happily ever after.

For photos, having a flute in hand makes for more festive shots. What better accessory than a glass of bubbly? Other couples at the wedding will be swept up in the romantic nature of the occasion and likely to share in an intimate toast between themselves.

And, of course, the Sparkling should flow freely during the reception, especially if it’s an evening affair and you plan to dance the night away.

In addition to the quantity, the quality of the bubbly is also important. While it may be tempting to save money by opting for a less expensive option, remember that champagne is a symbol of celebration, and you should pick one that you enjoy and has meaning for you.

In the end, whether for a wedding or an event, the choice and quantity of wine speak to your style and generosity as a host. Every detail reflects a commitment to creating moments that linger long after the last glass is emptied.

Have an upcoming event or wedding? Iron Horse would love to be a part of it! Contact us and we’ll help you plan exactly how much wine and which wines you need for your wedding or event.