In CGT Blog

Calculating how much wine to buy for a wedding or party can feel like an impossible task. You may be worried about not buying enough alcohol and watching the party run dry after a couple of hours. On the other hand, nobody wants to blow their whole budget on drinks they don’t need. It seems like an unsolvable puzzle, but there is a formula that works every time.

Here’s how to calculate how much wine to buy for your wedding or party:

How Much Wine for a Party or Reception?

Remember that some of your guests won’t drink any alcohol. Others might just have a single glass of wine with their dinner. In general, older crowds drink less alcohol than younger groups. But there are always exceptions, and you know if your grandma can drain a bottle of Merlot in record time. Plan according to your guests and their beverage preferences. With that said, plan for each drinker you expect at your party to consume one drink per hour.

Three Options for Your Bar

When planning your event’s alcohol menu, you have three basic options:

1.) Full Bar

If you want to offer a full bar at your party, plan on hiring a full-service bar-tending company. The cost of trying to provide a full bar by yourself and buying a full bar’s liquors, mixers, and garnishes is cost-prohibitive for most people, not to mention the hassle of shopping for and storing it all. It’s worth paying an expert to handle a full bar for you.

2.) Modified Full Bar

Offering a modified full bar is a far more manageable way to meet the expectations of the liquor drinkers you’ve invited to your event. For the modified (self-serve) full bar, plan to offer a few of the most popular liquors with simple mixers and garnishes. A modified full bar menu looks something like this:

  • Liquors: vodka, whiskey, and gin
  • Mixers: club soda, orange juice, and a clear soda pop (such as ginger ale)
  • Garnishes: sliced lemons and limes
  • A selection of wine and beer

For a modified full bar, expect half of your guests to only drink wine. The other half will roughly split themselves between beer and liquor. Let’s look at an example to calculate how much wine you need for a party with a modified full bar.

  • If you have 100 guests who drink alcohol, about 50 of them will drink wine. If your party lasts five hours, that adds up to 250 glasses of wine.
  • Each bottle of wine contains four glasses, so you will need 63 bottles of wine.
  • Each case of wine contains 12 bottles. Always round up when calculating how many cases you need; in this example, you should provide six cases of wine.
  • If your wedding reception is taking place in the summer (and possibly outdoors in the heat), people will drink more white wine than red. (In fact, we recommend adding a rosé to a summer party menu.) If it’s a winter wedding, expect guests to consume more red than white.

3.) Wine and Beer Only

If your guests are not big liquor drinkers, then focus on providing a nice selection of good quality wine and beer. In this situation, it’s safe to assume that about three-quarters of your guests will drink wine, and the other quarter will want beer. Let’s apply our wine calculator to a party of 100 drinkers.

  • At a wine-and-beer-only party, about 75 will drink wine. If your reception goes for five hours, that’s 375 glasses of wine, which is 94 bottles, which rounds up to eight cases of wine.

Other Considerations When Buying Wine for a Wedding

Keep in mind any cultural and regional influences that may affect alcohol consumption at your event. For example, if your family includes avid tequila drinkers, then add it to the bar. If your wedding is happening at a northern Michigan winery, you and your guests will probably drink more local wine than anything else.

Even at wine-and-beer-only parties, it’s common to offer a signature cocktail. It’s usually something that can be prepared ahead of time in big batches; think of a fancier version of punch. A signature cocktail often reflects the location of the party or represents something meaningful for the newly married couple. If you decide to offer a signature cocktail at your reception, you can reduce your beer and wine offerings proportionally.

Don’t Forget the Toast!

One more thing to remember is the toast. If you want to provide champagne or sparkling wine for the toast, it’s important to know that champagne flutes are smaller than wine glasses. You should get seven to nine glasses of sparkling wine out of one bottle, and many non-wine drinkers will partake in this toasting tradition.

Let the Experts Help You Plan How Much Wine to Get for Your Wedding Reception

For 45 years, Chateau Grand Traverse has been a proud leader in northern Michigan’s wine industry. Peruse our online store for inspiration; our Late Harvest Riesling and 2017 Gamay Noir are two of our most popular and widely appealing wines for parties. If you’re interested in adding a rosé to your list, our Pinot Noir Rosé Vin Gris is a bright, medium-bodied wine that is great for toasting because it pairs well with just about any dish.

Take a drive up Old Mission Peninsula to our tasting room and sample some great wines for yourself. While you’re here, a member of our team will be happy to help you choose the right wines for your big party. Plus, you can take advantage of our generous case discounts as you stock up for the event. Don’t forget to buy a few extra bottles to enjoy on future anniversaries! The wine experts at Chateau Grand Traverse look forward to helping you make your party a memorable success.