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Getting hitched? The dos & don’ts of buying alcohol for weddings

on 15/02/11 at 5:50 pm

Booze News

Rule 1: Be pragmatic. One of the most common mistakes is overbuying. Some people feel they have to offer a bar-like selection of beer, wine, champagne and/or liquor for their guests. Others try to guess at the likes and dislikes of their guests and so take a “shotgun” approach, letting their selections get out of hand. Remember this: Buy in reasonable quantity, good quality and within your means. The entire reason for the reception is not to drink but to celebrate the marriage. Sometimes the party becomes the focus and not the reason “we are gathered here.”

Rule 2: Provide ample, high quality, non-alcoholic, chilled beverages and/or coffee. It amazes me still, after all these years, how many receptions do not provide non-alcoholic beverages. Just an iced tub filled with bottled water with or without citrus and a few sodas will do the trick — a non-alcoholic punch can be too cloying in the heat of summer. I usually tell folks to provide at least one can or bottle of non-alcoholic beverages per person attending. If it is hot out, make it two bottles.

Rule 3: Avoid alcoholic punches like the pox — guests often don’t feel the effects of the alcohol until it’s too late. The old sitcoms in which Aunt Tilly swoons by the punch bowl don’t seem very funny once she grabs her car keys and heads home. Alcoholic punches are tricksters and can lead to unfortunate endings, especially with children around. Not a wise idea.

Rule 4: If you must have a beer keg, police it constantly. The seemingly endless supply of beer in a keg is an obvious problem and underage guests can drain it if not supervised. A large keg is about 120 pints of beer, so cut back on the wine and champagne.

Rule 5: Use high quality plastic, unbreakable flutes for the bubbly, stems for the wine and 16-ounce cups for the beer. The food grade plastic is very good for large receptions because they do not break, can be washed and reused and are inexpensive. I know this is not traditional, but broken glass is a hazard, and with plastic, washing is easy, storage is a cinch and the expedience is golden. Besides, and this is coming from an old wine guy, plastic is much lighter than glass and can be moved around from place to place with ease. I know of one caterer who has used her plastic stemware many, many times and swears by it. If high-end product is being used, however, glass is a must because it enhances the flavor.

Rule 6: Figure that each person will go through about half a bottle of wine in a three-hour reception without beer or punch. This is a rough estimate but sound. So for 100 people, you’re looking at four cases of wine or champagne. This depends also on age of participants, food offerings and length of reception. A little more than half the guests will drink white wine, and the rest will prefer low-tannin, soft red. For 100 adults for a toast, a little more than a case should do it.

SOURCE: Lorn Razzano, owner of the Wine Cellar in Ashland:  razz49@aol.com