Contributed by Sarah Breckon of Firstleaf Wines

A comprehensive guide to choosing wedding wines is just what busy couples need. The wine subscription service Firstleaf shares the most important tips, so you can choose the right wine for your Virginia wedding.

How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Wine has:

  • Recommended wine pairings for the top wedding entrees.
  • A list of the most popular wedding wines
  • Info about calculating how much wine you’ll need to buy.

Why Choose a Virginia Wine?

Virginia has more than 300 wineries, so  Virginia couples find it easy to choose a local wine for their wedding. Here are some of the reasons locals choose local wine.

1) Buying local. Spending your wine budget on a winery in your area is a good way to support local business owners.

2) Special memories. Couples often have special memories of a date at a winery, or of a trip to a specific region of the state. Choosing wine from that winery or region is a way to relive the moment on your special day.

3) Showcase our state. If you have a lot of out-of-town guests, it’s fun to be able to serve them something they couldn’t get back home. They’ll appreciate the effort, and maybe even buy a few bottles as a memory of their trip.

4) The wedding or reception is at a winery. If you’re getting married at a winery, it only makes sense to feature some of the wine that’s grown there. Depending on the venue, wine discounts may be available.

The Virginia Wineries Association selects a Governor’s Cup Case every year, including what they judge to be the top wines in the state. These were the 2020 winners:

  • 868 Estate Vineyards Vidal Blanc Passito (2017 – overall winner)
  • Afton Mountain Vineyards Tradition (2017)
  • Barboursville Vineyards Octagon (2014)
  • Barboursville Vineyards Vermentino Reserve (2018)
  • Delaplane Cellars Williams Gap (2017)
  • Lake Anna Winery Tannat (2017)
  • Michael Shaps Wineworks Meritage (2016)
  • Pippin Hill Vineyards Petit Verdot (2017)
  • Pollak Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve (2017)
  • Pollak Vineyards Smuggler (2017)
  • Rockbridge Vineyard Vd’Or (2017)
  • Shenandoah Vineyards Shenandoah Reserve Red (2017)

Why You Might Choose a Non-Virginia Wine

The drawback to serving a Virginia wine is that our state only has the ideal growing conditions for certain types of wine. This limits your choices.

If there are certain dishes you definitely want to have at your wedding, Virginia wines may not provide the optimum pairing. A wine from a different region might be better suited for the dish. 

According to Firstleaf, one of the most fundamental rules of wine pairing is geographic pairing — having the wine come from the same region as the food you’re eating. So if you are serving an Italian pasta dish, a wine from Italy like Chianti is considered most appropriate.

The Most Popular Wedding Wines

Year after year, the most popular wines at weddings are chardonnay, pinot noir, or cabernet sauvignon. These wines are well-balanced, and ideal for casual wine drinkers who might be put off by strongly oaked, spicy, or fruit-forward wines.

If your guests are frequent wine drinkers, they might enjoy an uncommon varietal. But if most of your guests are casual drinkers, you might be better off choosing a well-balanced classic.

How Much Wine to Buy

The traditional rule of thumb for weddings: Plan to provide 2 drinks per guest for the first hour, 1 drink per guest for each additional hour. 

The Firstleaf guide describes other things to keep in mind, such as the mix of wine, beer, cocktails and champagne you’re having at the reception.

Whether you go local or international, picking the right wine is a little detail that can help make your wedding just a little bit more enjoyable. 


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