Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Serving Champagne at a Wedding
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our bar lately (see here, here and here), but I don’t want anybody to get the wrong impression about our boozy bash. Today, I’m going to flip the script and talk about what we’re not going to drink at our wedding: champagne.
Roo and I are not having champagne or a sparkling wine at our wedding. We’re not big champagne drinkers in general; when the flutes come out for toasts at a wedding, I usually have one sip and let the rest get flat at my table. I feel horrible letting perfectly good bubbly go to waste, but there’s not much I can do in that situation. It seems rude to refuse when weddings and champagne seem to go so hand-in-hand. So at our reception, Roo and I decided that we prefer to let everyone toast with whatever they’re drinking. Champers is an easy expense for us to cut out of the budget, and hopefully nobody will miss it at our laid-back bash.
Even though we’re not doing it, I know it’s pretty much the most common wedding tradition next to the white dress. Along our journey of wedding planning, I have picked up some good tips for people who are doing a champagne toast. If I can’t use them, maybe one of you brides out there can.
From Huffington Post:
The wine grapes most commonly used in the production of sparkling wine are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and/or Pinot Meunier. If the particular sparkling wine is made from all white grapes, the label will read “blanc de blancs,” and if it’s made from Pinot Noir, it is labeled “blanc de noirs.”
On picking the right champagne…
From The Plunge:
A mistake people make is getting brut sparkling wine for toasting…. and then toasting when the cake is cut. Why have a sweet frosted wedding cake with a dry wine (bruts are meant for serving with buttery seafood and chicken in cream sauces, or drinking on their own), it makes the cake seem cloying. Get a demi-sec (fairly sweet) wine instead, so it matches the sweetness of the cake! Or toast with no food.
On the un-champagnes (Cava, Prosecco, etc.)…
From The Plunge:
You can toast with anything — at my best friend’s wedding we toasted with an excellent semi-seco Cava, a semi-sweet sparkling wine from Spain. I’m almost embarrassed to say it was only like $8 a bottle… but I had people coming up to me all afternoon telling me how much they loved the bubbly, and how it was so much better than Champagne usually is. You can also toast with Prosecco (between $10 and $30 a bottle); these tend to be just a hair sweeter than a brut Champagne, and they’re not nearly as yeasty/toasty, which can be good for people who don’t drink a ton of bubblies. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of most California sparkling wines. At the low end, they’re not terribly good — for technical reasons, the acidity is too low, and the grapes are over-ripe.
On how much to get…
Determine if you will be serving champagne just during the toasts or throughout the reception. If you plan to have it available throughout, the amount you need will be considerably larger. With a full champagne flute, you can get about six glasses per bottle. You can double that by serving half flutes. You can estimate one glass per toast and then one to two more every hour [if you serve during the reception].
Champagne is available in a range of bottle sizes. If a couple is looking into buying sparkling wine for a crowd, it will often be a better price per litre to purchase the largest size available, as long as it will be poured quickly enough so that the bottle does not go flat. If a bride and groom’s reception venue permits them to bring in their own alcohol, buying Champagne by the case may be a better value than by the individual bottle. A split of Champagne would be the right size if the bride and groom wanted to each have one glass of a very pricey vintage to share for toasting.
When you’re shopping for a champagne supplier, ask if the stores will accept returns of unopened bottles. Stores with liberal return policies will give you some flexibility with the amount you buy.
On choosing the right glass…
Speaking of serving Champagne, it is best done in classic tall slender flutes which are specially designed to enhance the sparkling wine. In addition to looking elegant, the long stems of Champagne flutes keep the holder’s hand away from the beverage, allowing it to remain icy cold. The other commonly used style of stemware for sparkling wine is the coupe glass, which has an open saucer shaped bowl. Though once popular, the coupe glass has fallen from favor for serving Champagne because it makes the sparkling wine go flat more quickly. Besides, the wide bowl makes for more spills, and who wants to lose even a drop of the precious wine?
On toasting and serving…
People will drink more if they are allowed to serve themselves. Have the venue staff fill the flutes and serve the champagne for the toast.
Prom A Practical Wedding:
For reasons mysterious to me, a lot of people seem to dislike champagne, and so when passed a glass for toasts they will take an obligatory sip, and then abandon their almost untouched glass. Where do you think that champagne (and the money you paid for it) goes? Down the drain, my friend. There’s a simple solution to this: let people toast with whatever they have in hand, and offer champagne at the bar all night. (If you really want to pass drinks before toasts, just send wait staff around with red, white, and sparking. Done.) That said, if you want to do a champagne toast, because you just can’t imagine your wedding without one, make sure that the bar staff only pours 1/3 or 1/2 full glasses, and calculate eight glasses per bottle instead of five for buying purposes.
On not stressing out about it…
Prom A Practical Wedding:
My golden rule of alcohol at weddings: If your guests complain about the type of free alcohol you’re serving them, they are free to go elsewhere.
Amen! What’s your plan for popping bubbly?