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Five Tips on How to Pick your Wedding Wine While Staying within Your Wedding Budget

By Alyssa Rapp, the Founder and CEO of Bottlenotes.com, 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.

Man oh man are these economic times harrowing- talk about inspiration for a glass of wine.
But the doozy of the economic climate shouldn’t but a damper on your wedding planning if you’re moving forward with your awesome celebration this year.

So, 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, seriously less expensive than Champagne, the good stuff (and why drink anything else?) that usually starts at $35-$45/bottle. If you do really want to serve Champagne, my best advice is to go one of the beautifully bubblies by Ayala. They make absolutely delicious bubblies- their “Zero Dosage” (meaning bone dry/zero residual sugar) is delightful and only $45/bottle, about 30% less expensive that 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- and fans- at Bottlenotes.com are brides and grooms who have purchased their wedding wine from us. Why? Because they can get dynamite wine starting at $15/bottle, and even when factoring in the typical corkage fee charged by caterers or hotels ($10-$15/bottle), they’re still saving big $$ - and the quality of wine they get from Bottlenotes.com for that price is far higher than what they would get through the venue or caterer.
Most importantly, often times if you agree to buy the bubbly from the venue, they’ll 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 the venue (restaurant, hotel, etc) often covers 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 pure 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, then at LEAST ask for which wines on their list would they be willing to work with you on the price. Have no fear: they’ll still be making money.

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 buying the wine from Bottlenotes.com, another source, or off the venue’s wine list, you’ll probably get more “bang for your buck” with wines from the New vs. Old (France, Italy, etc.) World.

5) Sample, sample, sample
The last bride and groom who inquired about purchasing wine from Bottlenotes for their wedding were hell-bent on serving Chardonnay and Cabernet as they were serving 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 the exact 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 by some great fortune NOT be the most expensive wines on the list!