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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I’m having a pre-wedding get-together with just wine and beer. How much do we need, and can you suggest the types? It’s approximately 60 people.
—Denise, McKeesport, Pa.
I usually start with a formula of about 2 to 3 drinks per person, which is about half a bottle of wine per guest. If your event is going longer than 2 or 3 hours, you could also figure a drink per person per hour, more or less. That’s just a baseline—you may have a better idea if your guests are more of a sipping crowd or heavier drinkers.
There are other variables to weigh in. For starters, how much food you’re serving—typically, the more food there is, the more folks will drink. My own research also shows that people tend to drink more at destination weddings or in other scenarios where they don’t have to drive or go to church or to work the next day.
White wine is usually more popular when folks are outside, during the daytime, and when it’s warm out. At night, when it’s colder, or when there’s a sit-down meal with meat, folks will reach more for red wine. Otherwise, I would say you could split the reds and whites about 50-50, unless you know your crowd has a preference for one or the other. Consider serving some bubbly, too, since it’s a festive occasion. And please make sure there’s plenty of water and non-alcoholic options.
As far as which types of wine to choose, I think that once you decide how much you need and what kind of budget you have to spend, you should talk to a wine retailer to see what your options are. Chardonnay is by far the most popular white wine out there, and Cabernet Sauvignon the red, but there are plenty of other types of wines, and you might find something that pairs particularly well with the food you’re serving.
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