Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

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Andrew M
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Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#1 Post by Andrew M » July 5th, 2019, 11:35 am

Hi folks, I’m only a few years into wine and looking for a tip. I have an ‘89 Pichon Lalande I’ve been saving for my 30th birthday and want to bring it out to a restaurant. My first thought was to give it a double decant in the afternoon and let it sit on the counter for at least a few hours before bringing it out. Do restaurants have a general policy on bringing in recorked bottles? Not sure how the original cork is going to hold up either so I might have to toss in a replacement, not that it matters. Cheers
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Chris Seiber
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#2 Post by Chris Seiber » July 5th, 2019, 11:38 am

I’ve never had a problem doing what you propose. I’ve heard of a few stray times someone got grief for it, but I wouldn’t worry, especially if you’re going somewhere with decent waitstaff and management.

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Yao C
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#3 Post by Yao C » July 5th, 2019, 11:44 am

Andrew M wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 11:35 am
Do restaurants have a general policy on bringing in recorked bottles?
Can’t hurt to call ahead and ask

Also fwiw I had this 2+ years ago and it didn’t need much more than an hour or so for the fruit to really get going
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#4 Post by Jeremy C » July 5th, 2019, 11:48 am

There certainly are places which disallow this and there are also areas where driving with an open container is illegal. I'll assume the latter doesn't apply to you, but I'd recommend calling the establishment and confirming that you may bring in an already opened bottle.

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Brady Daniels
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#5 Post by Brady Daniels » July 5th, 2019, 11:50 am

For the first time in my wine-drinking life, I was challenged for bringing in an open bottle a few weeks ago. Once I explained why it was opened they were completely cool. I think you’ll be fine.

If you need to open the second bottle, be prepared to pay a second corkage fee, even if the first wine is flawed. Corkage is a privilege not a right.
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#6 Post by Steve Crawford » July 5th, 2019, 12:07 pm

i would do this ah so style and recork fully in and make the recorking a dont ask dont tell. if the cork is level no one will say a word to you. same would apply if you have to use a substitute cork.

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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#7 Post by AAgrawal » July 5th, 2019, 12:22 pm

Steve Crawford wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 12:07 pm
i would do this ah so style and recork fully in and make the recorking a dont ask dont tell. if the cork is level no one will say a word to you. same would apply if you have to use a substitute cork.
I've never been able to reinsert a cork fully. How do people do this?
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#8 Post by Alan Rath » July 5th, 2019, 12:35 pm

I double decant and bring wines all the time. But I've also run into problems once or twice. Pushing the cork all the way back in is a good suggestion (rubber mallet works if you can't do it with just your hands). Alternatively, is the restaurant close enough you could drop it off in the afternoon or day before, and ask them to decant for you?
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#9 Post by R@y.Tupp@+sch » July 5th, 2019, 12:38 pm

I typically drop the wine(s) off a few days in advance and give the sommelier my request as to when I want him to open it/decant it.
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#10 Post by Chris V. » July 5th, 2019, 12:43 pm

Another idea that hasn't yet been mentioned yet is to drop the bottle off hours or days ahead of time and ask for it to be decanted a few hours early.

As mentioned some jurisdictions prohibit corkage of an open bottle, but as long as you're going somewhere with decent wine service you should be fine either way.
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#11 Post by Glen Gold » July 5th, 2019, 12:53 pm

I'm with all the folks who suggest dropping it off...if it needs a decant. But I've had this wine twice in the last year, and it has been excellent as a pop n pour. You probably already know that 30 year old Bordeaux has some bottle variation, so your bottle might still need one, but my experience suggestions you could risk bringing it with or asking them to decant an hour before. Enjoy your evening and I hope the wine is excellent! [cheers.gif]
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#12 Post by Chris Seiber » July 5th, 2019, 1:04 pm

AAgrawal wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 12:22 pm
Steve Crawford wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 12:07 pm
i would do this ah so style and recork fully in and make the recorking a dont ask dont tell. if the cork is level no one will say a word to you. same would apply if you have to use a substitute cork.
I've never been able to reinsert a cork fully. How do people do this?
Just push it in. If you keep some past corks lying around, better chance with one of those after they’ve dried out than the one you just pulled.

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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#13 Post by Jay Miller » July 5th, 2019, 1:46 pm

Glen Gold wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 12:53 pm
I'm with all the folks who suggest dropping it off...if it needs a decant. But I've had this wine twice in the last year, and it has been excellent as a pop n pour. You probably already know that 30 year old Bordeaux has some bottle variation, so your bottle might still need one, but my experience suggestions you could risk bringing it with or asking them to decant an hour before. Enjoy your evening and I hope the wine is excellent! [cheers.gif]
But how much sediment was there?
Ripe fruit isn't necessarily a flaw.

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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#14 Post by John Glas » July 5th, 2019, 2:33 pm

no problem in MN. Call ahead to make sure. Many strange laws out there. I had a first at a event where only the servers could pour the wine and I could not. Each restaurant has different policies I am sure.

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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#15 Post by mattccheung » July 5th, 2019, 2:37 pm

I did this two weeks ago for my 30th. Recorked with a vacu plastic wine saver. Waiter had no issues.

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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#16 Post by Keith A k e r s » July 5th, 2019, 2:58 pm

Brady Daniels wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 11:50 am
Corkage is a privilege not a right.


Extremely sage words that many forget about or never think of. So, I made sure to quote it [thumbs-up.gif]

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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#17 Post by Anton D » July 5th, 2019, 5:49 pm

If you do open and let air out, keep it at Cellar temperature!
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#18 Post by maureen nelson » July 5th, 2019, 6:38 pm

Anton D wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 5:49 pm
If you do open and let air out, keep it at Cellar temperature!
Right. I cringed when I read that you planned to keep it on the counter for a few hours. Keep it cool.

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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#19 Post by Carlos Delpin » July 5th, 2019, 6:48 pm

Brady Daniels wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 11:50 am
For the first time in my wine-drinking life, I was challenged for bringing in an open bottle a few weeks ago. Once I explained why it was opened they were completely cool. I think you’ll be fine.

If you need to open the second bottle, be prepared to pay a second corkage fee, even if the first wine is flawed. Corkage is a privilege not a right.
I’ve never been charged corkage for a flawed bottle.

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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#20 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 6th, 2019, 2:06 am

Chris Seiber wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 1:04 pm
Just push it in. If you keep some past corks lying around, better chance with one of those after they’ve dried out than the one you just pulled.
This doesn't make sense. The cork's diameter is at its smallest right after it is pulled out from the bottle, after which it starts to expand. It is also more elastic while it retains some humidity - a dried-out cork is much harder and it'll be a tough job trying to insert an expanded, dried-out cork inside the lip of the bottle without any tools.

If I need to put a cork back into the bottle, I try to do it as quickly as possible after extracting the cork.

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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#21 Post by Chris Seiber » July 6th, 2019, 8:07 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
July 6th, 2019, 2:06 am
Chris Seiber wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 1:04 pm
Just push it in. If you keep some past corks lying around, better chance with one of those after they’ve dried out than the one you just pulled.
This doesn't make sense. The cork's diameter is at its smallest right after it is pulled out from the bottle, after which it starts to expand. It is also more elastic while it retains some humidity - a dried-out cork is much harder and it'll be a tough job trying to insert an expanded, dried-out cork inside the lip of the bottle without any tools.

If I need to put a cork back into the bottle, I try to do it as quickly as possible after extracting the cork.
This is not my experience at all - talking about old corks, not never used new ones. Though they vary; I might eyeball or try a couple to find the one that goes in easiest.

I always find that the wet end of a cork that was just pulled expands greatly and won’t go back in.

But chalk it up to another of those things where each of us experiences the wine world a little differently.

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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#22 Post by Brady Daniels » July 6th, 2019, 10:54 am

Carlos Delpin wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 6:48 pm
Brady Daniels wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 11:50 am
For the first time in my wine-drinking life, I was challenged for bringing in an open bottle a few weeks ago. Once I explained why it was opened they were completely cool. I think you’ll be fine.

If you need to open the second bottle, be prepared to pay a second corkage fee, even if the first wine is flawed. Corkage is a privilege not a right.
I’ve never been charged corkage for a flawed bottle.
I think many / most restaurants will be compassionate, but that is their choice, not the patron’s. I have had both experiences and believe we should react with grace, even in the face of this first-world problem. I’m sure it is more than balanced out by the number of times we haven’t been charged corkage in our lives.
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#23 Post by Arv R » July 7th, 2019, 9:18 am

It's not common, but we have had restaurants object to bringing previously opened bottles before.

If you use an Ah-So type of opener you can probably reinsert the cork back in so that it doesn't look like was removed (except for the foil). Some table / stand style openers are also good for reinsertion of the cork.
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Re: Corkage Etiquette for Older Bottles?

#24 Post by AAgrawal » July 7th, 2019, 12:06 pm

Brady Daniels wrote:
July 6th, 2019, 10:54 am
Carlos Delpin wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 6:48 pm
Brady Daniels wrote:
July 5th, 2019, 11:50 am
For the first time in my wine-drinking life, I was challenged for bringing in an open bottle a few weeks ago. Once I explained why it was opened they were completely cool. I think you’ll be fine.

If you need to open the second bottle, be prepared to pay a second corkage fee, even if the first wine is flawed. Corkage is a privilege not a right.
I’ve never been charged corkage for a flawed bottle.
I think many / most restaurants will be compassionate, but that is their choice, not the patron’s. I have had both experiences and believe we should react with grace, even in the face of this first-world problem. I’m sure it is more than balanced out by the number of times we haven’t been charged corkage in our lives.
My experience has always been that the protocol for serving wine that someone has brought is the same as wine that is purchased. It's opened, (or if already opened, they ask whether I had already tasted it), pour a small taste to one person who judges whether it is flawed, and after that it is served to the table. If it is flawed, corkage shouldn't be charged. If it's approved and poured to everyone, then you've accepted corkage even if you don't finish the bottle, later decide it's flawed, etc.
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