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How to Pick Your Wedding Wine While Staying Within Your Budget


Man, oh man, are these economic times harrowing – talk about inspiration for a glass of wine.

But this doozy of an economic climate shouldn’t put a damper on your wedding planning if you’re moving forward with your awesome celebration this year. Here are five quick tips on how to pick the wine to serve at your wedding without breaking the bank:

1. You Don’t have to Serve Champagne!

Prosecco from Italy and Cava from Spain are delightful and delicious sparkling wines from Europe that are often $12-25 per bottle, much less expensive than Champagne, the good stuff (and why drink anything else?) that usually starts at $35-45 per bottle.  If you really want to serve Champagne, my advice is to go with one of the beautiful bubblies by Ayala. They make absolutely delicious sparkling wines – their “Zero Dosage” (meaning it’s bone dry -- no zero residual sugar) is delightful and only $45 per bottle, about 30 percent less expensive than its Champagne counterparts of the same quality level.

2. Ask your Venue if you can Bring in your own Wine

Some of our biggest sales  at  come from brides and grooms who purchase their wedding wine from us. Why? Because they can get dynamite wine starting at $15 per bottle, and even when factoring in the typical corkage fee charged by caterers or hotels ($10-15 per bottle), they’re still saving lots of money – and the quality of wine they get from for that price is far higher than that of the wine they would get through the venue or caterer.

Most importantly, if you agree to buy the bubbly from the venue, they’ll often waive the corkage fee on the still wine you bring in, or vice versa. In short, don’t be afraid to negotiate!

3. Ask for a Discount

A dirty little secret of the wine business is that  venues (restaurants, hotels, etc.) often cover their bottle costs with the first glass that they pour for wines they pour by the glass – so the remaining 3-4 glasses they pour are purely profit margin. In short, the wines they pour by the glass they usually get at an awesome price. If they won’t budge on letting you bring in your own wine,  at least ask  which wines on their list   are negotiable in price. 

4. It’s a new Day, so stick to the New World

The best deals in wine remain the “New World Stars,” particularly those from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and South America. Whether you’re buying the wine from, another source, or off the venue’s wine list, you’ll probably get more bang for your buck with wines from the New World than those from the Old World (France, Italy, etc.).

5. Sample, Sample, Sample

The last bride and groom who inquired about purchasing wine from for their wedding were hell-bent on serving Chardonnay and Cabernet with a dual dish of sea bass and steak (tasty!). We happily sent them a case of samples at a deep discount (since we knew they’d be buying the wedding wine from us – which all retailers should be willing to do!). They were convinced they would go with the least expensive Chardonnay and most expensive Cabernet that we sent, but when they tasted the wines, they did exactly the opposite! They went with the most expensive Chardonnay that we sent from the Napa Valley (Fantesca Chardonnay ($35), made by iconic (Screaming Eagle) winemaker Heidi Barrett) and the least expensive Cabernet that we sent(Las Perdices Cabernet ($18) from Argentina).

Bottom line: Definitely taste what you’ll be serving, as you might be pleasantly surprised. What you like best might not be one of the most expensive wines on the list!

Alyssa J. Rapp is the Founder & CEO of, the premier online wine community where wine enthusiasts come to learn about wine, share tasting notes, and buy wine. Alyssa is also the author of Bottlenotes Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips.™

Last Updated: March 4, 2009 at 8:59 am
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