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We are frequently asked questions about alcohol and weddings -- from whether to have a cash bar (depends on your budget and your guests' expectations ) ,  alternatives to  a fully hosted bar and what type of alcohol to serve. One of the most frequently asked questions, involves selecting and serving wines for a wedding reception. In British Columbia and especially in the lower mainland, the variety of wines you have to choose from is vast and perhaps daunting. 

You will likely have the chance to choose the wine that will be offered during dinner. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the type of wine, and how much wine to offer.

First, we must admit that it's impossible to give wine-picking advice that will work for everyone. Which wines you choose for your wedding and how much you order depends on many factors specific to your wedding, such as the number of guests and their ages, the food you'll be serving, the time of the reception, your budget, the length of the reception and whether there will be dancing, the type of meal and service (sit-down, buffet, hors d'oeuvres only, etc.), and so on and so on. That said, here are a few quick tips to help bring out your inner sommelier.

1. Know your audience: Think of your guest list as you make your wine decisions. Will everyone drink wine? Will they drink both white and red? Or will the younger crowd (especially the men) opt for beer instead? Knowing whether or not you're serving a wine-loving crowd will help you determine how much time to spend choosing, how finicky you must be and how much wine to get.

2. Stick to the basics: Unless you know your guests will enjoy your creative selection of wines, stick with what people know and love best -- a white such as Chardonnay or a Chardonnay-based wine and a red such as Merlot. If you prefer to veer just a little bit off the beaten path, try a light, food-friendly white such as Sauvignon Blanc or a fruity  Zinfandel.

3. Pick a bubbly: A wedding is all about celebration, and so is champagne. So be sure you have enough on hand to have at least one reception toast. Get the best you can afford -- after all, you'll be toasting your future marital success with it. If you're worried about affordability, here's a money-saving tip: Have the waiters fill the glasses only halfway. As they're pouring, the bubbles will fill to the brim anyway, then settle down, leaving a half-full glass. The truth is that not everyone loves champagne, so offering several sips at first is more than enough for most of your guests. Those who want more can get refills later. Not a big champagne fan? Non-alcoholic sparkling cider will also be a hit with most any crowd -- and you can enjoy it to.

4. Remember, too much is just enough: When it comes to wine at a wedding, it's better to have too much than too little. Your average wine bottle will yield four to six glasses. We suggest allowing for half a bottle per person, even if that sounds like a lot. Some guests will drink that much; others won't.  But since you can't determine ahead of time which wine they'll drink -- white, red or champagne -- you want to be sure you have plenty of each.  

5.  It’s OK to have a special wine for the head table or parents’ tables: You may determine that the only wine connoisseurs at the wedding will be sitting at the head table or parent’s tables. The father of the bride may have a special wine chosen for his daughter’s wedding, that happens to be quite expensive. Go ahead and arrange for a few special bottles to be available for the head table or parents’ tables only. Not only will the parents and bridal party appreciate the wine, but you will save money by ordering less of the high end wines.

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