General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

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Toby P
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General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#1 Post by Toby P » October 3rd, 2020, 9:31 am

There are plenty of threads on corkage, but I couldn't find a good discussion on overall guidelines for newbies - if there is one please feel free to point me in that direction. I've never brought wine to a restaurant before, but now that I've been accumulating more and taking more of an interest in wine, I'm interested in doing so. That said, I feel a bit hesitant - I don't want to be a bad customer for restaurants! To be transparent, my motivation is just to drink better wines at restaurants but stay within my budget, so this is not a case of bringing collector level wines. Is there anything wrong with just bringing a solid California cab or pinot to a local restaurant? I know corkage is common so I would assume it's perfectly reasonable to BYO, but for some reason it feels uncomfortable to me.

As a tangible example: going to a local steakhouse with a few friends where we'd probably order a round of cocktails and then one bottle of cab in the $60-90 range off the menu to drink with our steaks. I have some Kinsella Spencer vineyard cab at home I wouldn't mind bringing a bottle of (it's not on the restaurant's wine list, which is very limited). Do people think about how much they are costing the restaurant based on the corkage fee vs what they might typically order, or am I overthinking it.

Are there guidelines in terms of what "level" of wine to bring, i.e. is it not cool to bring a wine that retails for say $40-50? Other than avoiding something directly on the wine list, is it considered bad to bring something that's just another napa cab instead of something more differentiated from the broad offerings on the wine list? And how much do people's answers depend on the type / price of the restaurant (e.g. local mid-range bistro vs very expensive michelin type place vs typical steakhouse)?

For the purposes of this discussion I'd be curious to hear views setting aside COVID, and then if you think the latter warrants a different approach feel free to mention (I'm definitely less inclined to do my first corkage until things are better, but again, I don't have a great feel for how it's viewed by restaurants).
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#2 Post by HoosJustinG » October 3rd, 2020, 9:39 am

For me, going out to dinner is usually an excuse to drink a bottle of wine — otherwise I’d just as soon stay in and fire up the grill. So I don’t feel bad at all about bringing wine, because in my case I’d probably otherwise eat out at least 50% less (which would cost restaurants far more money than lost margin on wine markup). As far as other etiquette, I like to call to confirm corkage policy and let them know I’m planning to bring my own bottle(s) and if they have a wine list posted online I make sure that the bottle I’m bringing isn’t on the list.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#3 Post by ybarselah » October 3rd, 2020, 9:48 am

1. corkage is a hospitality benefit extended by most restaurants - treat it that way. it's not a right. it's not a way to save money, even though that might be an added benefit.

2. there is zero connection with corkage fee, if charged, and the economics of the restaurant. so don't even think about it.

3. always, always, always, confirm in advance the restaurant's policy - fee per bottle, limits, etc. ideally get the name of the person telling you. sometimes the policy is on the website, so no need if that's the case. sometimes they say you cannot bring something on the list, which is fair but i'll go further and advise doing this even if they don't say it.

4. bring something "worth" bringing - this is obviously a sliding scale, but i do believe it's worth signaling to the restaurant that you view this whole matter as per #1 above.

5. when arriving, whomever greets you indicate that you called about the corkage policy and you brought a bottle with you. ask that person what you should do with it and then follow that instruction.

6. in most cases, i also think you should at the very least buy a round of BTG, cocktails, or best case, a bottle off the list.

7. offer your server or whomever is handling you wine a taste. don't push, but offer nicely.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#4 Post by Toby P » October 3rd, 2020, 10:06 am

Ha, see this is where I get confused. Justin's response is more along the lines of "as long as the restaurant allows it, don't sweat it" - and reading some other threads on WB, it seems there are lots of people who bring wine almost every time they go out to eat. But ybarselah's response is much more in the "it had better be special" camp, which definitely doesn't describe my situation. Maybe I'm just looking for a consensus where there won't be one
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#5 Post by Max S. » October 3rd, 2020, 10:15 am

Toby P wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 10:06 am
Ha, see this is where I get confused. Justin's response is more along the lines of "as long as the restaurant allows it, don't sweat it" - and reading some other threads on WB, it seems there are lots of people who bring wine almost every time they go out to eat. But ybarselah's response is much more in the "it had better be special" camp, which definitely doesn't describe my situation. Maybe I'm just looking for a consensus where there won't be one
It feels more like if the restaurant doesn't have it and its not a cheap bottle of wine is the way to go. You could always call the restaurant and ask too about the specific bottle.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#6 Post by Scott Jameson » October 3rd, 2020, 10:22 am

Which is more profitable for a restaurant - food or alcohol - is off topic here, so I won't go down that path ...

First, living in TX, where very few restaurants can legally allow BYOB, it absolutely is a privilege. I agree with Yaacov's points, and would add:

The corkage fee goes to the restaurant and not the server. Tip very well and don't penalize the server because you chose to bring a bottle. Offering a taste is fine, but that's not a replacement for a tip.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#7 Post by Scott Jameson » October 3rd, 2020, 10:32 am

Toby P wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 10:06 am
Ha, see this is where I get confused. Justin's response is more along the lines of "as long as the restaurant allows it, don't sweat it" - and reading some other threads on WB, it seems there are lots of people who bring wine almost every time they go out to eat. But ybarselah's response is much more in the "it had better be special" camp, which definitely doesn't describe my situation. Maybe I'm just looking for a consensus where there won't be one
I think you have to consider the specific circumstances. If the restaurant offers a small, boring wine list (perhaps selected by a distributor), I would think it's more of a "don't sweat it" than if the restaurant has a well-curated list. If I was going to a 3 Star Michelin restaurant with a list of 100s or 1000s of bottles, including mature bottles, I would be darn sure it's a very special bottle I'm bringing ... and not just because the corkage fee is likely to be high.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#8 Post by Toby P » October 3rd, 2020, 10:36 am

Thanks Scott, re your first post, 100% on tipping the server well / as if you bought a similar bottle (or at least whatever bottle you would have ordered of the list). On the second post, this is part of what I'm trying to drill down on: how much is the "corkage is for special stuff" just specific to when you're eating at a fancy restaurant with a big wine list, as opposed to the local Italian bistro or gastropub or whatever, where "don't sweat it" is the right way to think about it.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#9 Post by Dan Hammer » October 3rd, 2020, 10:46 am

Toby.

The restaurants that offer BYO want you to bring your own. They will probably charge you (I always call to ask how much the charge is). I'd rather bring my $60 bottle, and pay a $25 - $35 fee (reasonable to me) than buy a $100 bottle off the list that cost the restaurant $40. I still save money, and end up drinking better.

I've brought all sorts of wine, from $25 bottles to a $200 bottle. A better restaurant with fine dining rates a better wine. YMMV.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#10 Post by Arv R » October 3rd, 2020, 11:02 am

Toby P wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 9:31 am
There are plenty of threads on corkage, but I couldn't find a good discussion on overall guidelines for newbies - if there is one please feel free to point me in that direction. I've never brought wine to a restaurant before, but now that I've been accumulating more and taking more of an interest in wine, I'm interested in doing so. That said, I feel a bit hesitant - I don't want to be a bad customer for restaurants! To be transparent, my motivation is just to drink better wines at restaurants but stay within my budget, so this is not a case of bringing collector level wines. Is there anything wrong with just bringing a solid California cab or pinot to a local restaurant? I know corkage is common so I would assume it's perfectly reasonable to BYO, but for some reason it feels uncomfortable to me.

As a tangible example: going to a local steakhouse with a few friends where we'd probably order a round of cocktails and then one bottle of cab in the $60-90 range off the menu to drink with our steaks. I have some Kinsella Spencer vineyard cab at home I wouldn't mind bringing a bottle of (it's not on the restaurant's wine list, which is very limited). Do people think about how much they are costing the restaurant based on the corkage fee vs what they might typically order, or am I overthinking it.

Are there guidelines in terms of what "level" of wine to bring, i.e. is it not cool to bring a wine that retails for say $40-50? Other than avoiding something directly on the wine list, is it considered bad to bring something that's just another napa cab instead of something more differentiated from the broad offerings on the wine list? And how much do people's answers depend on the type / price of the restaurant (e.g. local mid-range bistro vs very expensive michelin type place vs typical steakhouse)?

For the purposes of this discussion I'd be curious to hear views setting aside COVID, and then if you think the latter warrants a different approach feel free to mention (I'm definitely less inclined to do my first corkage until things are better, but again, I don't have a great feel for how it's viewed by restaurants).
Toby - it really depends on your market, and the circumstances of the venue you want to patronize.

In New England, I have found corkage to difficult/quirky to be granted. Out West, where I live now, its routine & customary. There are no end of places in my area which have free corkage nights, or always offer it with easy to understand terms etc.

And I suppose the crisis facing the hospitality industry right now likely means if one called and spoke to a manager/wine captain at a restaurant, perhaps one might get even better terms if negotiated. (We haven't gone out to eat since the National Emergency was declared, other than maybe 1 time outside at the Oxbow Public Market picnic tables while passing through)

Yaacov's list seems reasonable, but I'd point out that its the blinkered perspective of a wine professional in a high end environment. Perhaps in that rareified world every time corkage is offered it really is cannibalizing a supernormal profit from the wine list, but in more typical situations just because someone brings a $100 bottle doesn't mean they would have spent that off the list if denied corkage. I don't think those guidelines are reflective of regular non Michelin rated venues.

The one thing I might add, if you are bringing older bottles to a place that is not a fine dining destination, bring an Ah-So / Durand and open them yourself, assuming they allow that. (Or do it ahead of time) The typical server, and their corkscrew, isn't awesome at handling older, brittle corks.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#11 Post by Rodrigo B » October 3rd, 2020, 11:06 am

I’ll chime in on a few points in corkage etiquette:

1- Always call the restaurant and inquire about the corkage policy. Even if it’s on their website, it doesn’t hurt to confirm it. Whether you can BYO, how much it is, or if there are restrictions as to what you can bring (limit on bottles, no wines on their list, not large formats, etc.)

2- Once you’ve done called the restaurant and are fine with paying the stated corkage fee, you are free to bring whatever bottle you damn please (so long as it’s within the restaurant’s guidelines). You shouldn’t feel pressured to bring a “special” or expensive bottle, if you’re paying for the corkage, you’re free to bring whatever wine you want (again, so long as it’s within the restaurant’s guidelines). The reason why many chose to bring a special bottle is because corkage fees aren’t always cheap (I’ve seen places with $75+ per bottle for corkage fee.) So if you’re bringing say a $25 bottle of wine where the corkage is $75, it becomes a $100 wine, at that price point, a similar bottle may be $80 off the list, so financially it makes more sense to purchase from the restaurant. But if on the other hand you’re bringing a $200 bottle, the equivalent bottle at the restaurant may be $600, so paying $275 is a whole lot cheaper. The other reason people caution against bringing a wine that’s on the list is to avoid a perceived faux pas of being “cheap” and not ordering the wine direct from the restaurant. But personally, I have no problem bringing a wine that’s on a restaurant’s wine list (granted they allow that). At times I have no interest in purchasing an expensive bottle of wine from a restaurant at 3-4 times retail prices.

3- Once you arrive let your server/sommelier know you’ve brought your own wine and let them know you’d prefer them to open it. Should they open it immediately and decant it so it can breathe, or should it wait a bit. Do offer the server/sommelier a taste of the wine.

4- If possible, make every effort to order a drink or two from the restaurants beverage list. The reality of the situation is that restaurants make their money on their beverage programs, so bringing your own wine is in a sense a loss of profit for them. Thought do note that that is what the corkage fee is there in part for, to cover some of that lost beverage revenue, so don’t feel too guilty about bringing your own wine. Ordering something from the restaurant, whether it’s cocktails, or BTG, or a bottle to start is a polite way for you to let the restaurant staff know you understand the realties of their financial circumstances.

5- This goes more for larger groups that bring multiple expensive bottles. Don’t negotiate the corkage fee. You’re already depriving the restaurant of it’s beverage sales and if you’re bringing in several expensive bottles, you can afford the corkage fee. If not, then don’t bring your own wine.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#12 Post by ybarselah » October 3rd, 2020, 11:08 am

Scott Jameson wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 10:22 am
Which is more profitable for a restaurant - food or alcohol - is off topic here, so I won't go down that path ...

First, living in TX, where very few restaurants can legally allow BYOB, it absolutely is a privilege. I agree with Yaacov's points, and would add:

The corkage fee goes to the restaurant and not the server. Tip very well and don't penalize the server because you chose to bring a bottle. Offering a taste is fine, but that's not a replacement for a tip.
yes! annoyed at myself for not referencing a great tip, especially these days. thanks for adding.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#13 Post by Sean S y d n e y » October 3rd, 2020, 11:10 am

Yaacov's list was pretty good but, yes, it definitely varies from place to place, area to area, demographic to demographic. I work at a restaurant AND find a lot of wine lists to have few things on them I want to drink, so this is an interesting subject for me.

If a restaurant offers corkage, don't feel bad about using it. You said putting Covid aside, but honestly, that's a bit tough at the moment. Last week I went out to one of my favourite places, an unpretentious French bistro with an appallingly bad wine list. I was tempted to bring a bottle - I'm enough of a regular that they likely would have been fine with it - but still paid $15 a glass x 4 to drink their mediocre stuff because I know they need the cash and need to move product.

I think a good rule of thumb is use corkage because you want to drink a wine, not because you want to save a buck. And like Yaacov and Rodrigo have said, perhaps consider ordering a round of cocktails or a glass of sparkling to start.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#14 Post by ybarselah » October 3rd, 2020, 11:16 am

Arv R wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 11:02 am


Yaacov's list seems reasonable, but I'd point out that its the blinkered perspective of a wine professional in a high end environment. Perhaps in that rareified world every time corkage is offered it really is cannibalizing a supernormal profit from the wine list, but in more typical situations just because someone brings a $100 bottle doesn't mean they would have spent that off the list if denied corkage. I don't think those guidelines are reflective of regular non Michelin rated venues.
i was hoping someone would touch on this. my itb status is limited specifically to being the founder of a company that analyzes sales information of wine. i can tell you with utmost confidence that based on our extensive data, corkage has zero impact on the bottom line for a restaurant that offers it (meaning the type of places that have at least a half-decent wine program, not a random indian spot in murray hill). the cost of corkage is entirely in modifying their normal business processes. this therefore applies regardless of market or concept and merely goes under the umbrella of being a "good customer" which in my experience always results in the best returns. people working in restaurants are there to deliver hospitality - so let them. if you ever get the vibe that they are hostile or looking down on corkage it's likely because they've had awful experiences with it from bad customers.

so if my perspective is "blinkered" it's not because of where i live or what i do, it's because i'm also taking into account the other side of the transaction, which is rarely if every properly discussed here.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#15 Post by ybarselah » October 3rd, 2020, 11:20 am

Sean S y d n e y wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 11:10 am
Yaacov's list was pretty good but, yes, it definitely varies from place to place, area to area, demographic to demographic. I work at a restaurant AND find a lot of wine lists to have few things on them I want to drink, so this is an interesting subject for me.

If a restaurant offers corkage, don't feel bad about using it. You said putting Covid aside, but honestly, that's a bit tough at the moment. Last week I went out to one of my favourite places, an unpretentious French bistro with an appallingly bad wine list. I was tempted to bring a bottle - I'm enough of a regular that they likely would have been fine with it - but still paid $15 a glass x 4 to drink their mediocre stuff because I know they need the cash and need to move product.

I think a good rule of thumb is use corkage because you want to drink a wine, not because you want to save a buck. And like Yaacov and Rodrigo have said, perhaps consider ordering a round of cocktails or a glass of sparkling to start.
thank you for adding the restaurant perspective.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#16 Post by Steve Crawford » October 3rd, 2020, 11:26 am

if the server doesnt charge you corkage throw it to them as a tip. if they left it off it wasn’t an accident.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#17 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » October 3rd, 2020, 11:53 am

Steve Crawford wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 11:26 am
if the server doesnt charge you corkage throw it to them as a tip. if they left it off it wasn’t an accident.
I practice this, but I think sometimes it’s waived without mentioning it was waived. Or maybe that makes me feel better about the principal/agent aspect of turning a restaurant fee into a tip.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#18 Post by KenL. » October 3rd, 2020, 12:00 pm

If a restaurant offers corkage fee, you should feel comfortable bringing a bottle. If you order a round of cocktails or a moderately priced bottle of white wine or champagne to start, the corkage fee might even be waived.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#19 Post by Rodrigo B » October 3rd, 2020, 12:04 pm

I agree with Yaacov and some of the others on the thread, it's impossible to discuss corkage without also discussing restaurants' financial realities. COVID is very different scenario from normal and I think most would agree that one should avoid bringing your own wines now and support your local restaurants in these increasingly challenging financial times.

Yaacov- interesting that you mentioned your research into this matter. My understanding of corkage fees, at least in talking to people in the industry was that the high corkage fee for some places tended to serve two purpose: (1) was to disincentivize people from bringing in their wines and instead to order from the wine list and (2) to serve in part as a replacement for some of that "lost" beverage revenue. So while corkage fee is not necessarily adding to the bottom line, it’s there to make sure it’s not hurting the bottom line. Curious to know some of the findings and data from from your research if you can share it.

And I’ll echo the sentiments from others here re: restaurants waiving corkage. If the corkage is waived, add the entire amount to the tip. You brought the bottle with the full intent of paying the corkage fee, so just redirect that to the restaurant staff.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#20 Post by Toby P » October 3rd, 2020, 12:06 pm

ybarselah wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 11:16 am
Arv R wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 11:02 am


Yaacov's list seems reasonable, but I'd point out that its the blinkered perspective of a wine professional in a high end environment. Perhaps in that rareified world every time corkage is offered it really is cannibalizing a supernormal profit from the wine list, but in more typical situations just because someone brings a $100 bottle doesn't mean they would have spent that off the list if denied corkage. I don't think those guidelines are reflective of regular non Michelin rated venues.
i was hoping someone would touch on this. my itb status is limited specifically to being the founder of a company that analyzes sales information of wine. i can tell you with utmost confidence that based on our extensive data, corkage has zero impact on the bottom line for a restaurant that offers it (meaning the type of places that have at least a half-decent wine program, not a random indian spot in murray hill). the cost of corkage is entirely in modifying their normal business processes. this therefore applies regardless of market or concept and merely goes under the umbrella of being a "good customer" which in my experience always results in the best returns. people working in restaurants are there to deliver hospitality - so let them. if you ever get the vibe that they are hostile or looking down on corkage it's likely because they've had awful experiences with it from bad customers.

so if my perspective is "blinkered" it's not because of where i live or what i do, it's because i'm also taking into account the other side of the transaction, which is rarely if every properly discussed here.
Huh, that surprises me - you mean no impact on the restaurant's profitability taken as a whole? Or on individual transactions involving corkage, because I assume they must lose some profit they would have made if you just ordered off their list.

Good feedback in general, thanks everyone. I'm coming down on the side of no issue bringing a wine even if it isn't "special" (assuming we're not talking about a very upscale / super wine list type place). Still have to grapple with COVID considerations I guess, so I appreciate your thoughts on that Sean.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#21 Post by R. Serafin » October 3rd, 2020, 12:17 pm

@ Steve - 100% agree. I've had that experience a few times and each time made sure it was in the tip. in fact, I put that as cash on the table vs a charge for the rest of the bill. Up to him/her how they handle that at the end of the night.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#22 Post by Mark Y » October 3rd, 2020, 12:36 pm

Toby P wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 12:06 pm
Huh, that surprises me - you mean no impact on the restaurant's profitability taken as a whole? Or on individual transactions involving corkage, because I assume they must lose some profit they would have made if you just ordered off their list.
I actually think it's the opposite.. I think corkage adds overall value to the restaurant in the long run.

First
Stepping back - most restaurant owners are not opening the restaurant to be anyone's friend and offer up food for a loss. I would assume in a free market, MOST restaurants (aside from non profit ones of course) are open with the same purpose as most businesses - Long Term Value Maximization. To that end, if you told a restaurant owner ending corkage will increase their bottom line 30% in the LONG run, i bet most would remove corkage. Therefore my view of corkage is that it's not at all a 'priviledge'. You may feel lucky in a regulatory environment to have a restauarnt that allow it, but rest assured they allow it for their benefit as much as it is for yours. Even in states like Texas, it's a tool used as product differentiation meant to drive brand recognition, loyalty (repeat business), and overall value to the restaurant. They MAY (debatable see below) forgo some short term profit, but certainly are gaining long term value or they wouldn't be doing this.

Second
Put aside long term value maximization. Look at an individual customer visit. Are they losing money on a transaction? Sure the profit is higher in alcohol no doubt.
However if you didn't bring a $200 btl, would you have bought that bottle for $500 off the list? would you have even spent $200 on alcohol at all? would you have even gone to that restaurant at all? would you have gone to ANY restaurant in the first place? I think one can cite the data on 'lost revenue' easily b/c it's tangible, but the intangible effect and downstream impacts are very difficult to measure. Can you get a team of eocnomics PhDs to attempt to quantify that? sure, I've seen it on other businesses, but I'm not aware of that being done for restaurants. So just citing a 'lost top line' is not an accurate way to paint the whole picture. Both parties are benefiting from your visit, so don't need to feel like the restaurant is somehow doing you a favor. Then again, also don't feel like you are entitled to anything. [wow.gif]

That said, Should we generally be good people and respectful? of course.
1. ask about the policy ahead of time, and respect it. If they allow corkage, and charge a fee. great! bring whatever u want (withint their guidelines) and pay the corkage. the restaurant clearly set that policy for a reason. If you want to pay $50 corkage and bring a yellow tail, well that's on you!

2. tip well - Generally folks on this forum (and if you collect wine), are probably financially better off than the server who's serving you. so tip generously. I don't see a need to tip wildly irrationally like some boasts. If I have a $200 bill, i'm happy to tip $40, even $50, especially if the server did a professional job. But why would i tip $100? i rather donate the extra $50 to a elementary school that also need the money. But hopefully a general attitude of respect/kindness is just par for the course.

TLDR:
- ask/check about the policy ahead. If allowed, bring whatever you want within the restaurant guidelines.
- tip appropriately

end of 'rule of thumb'. [wow.gif]
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#23 Post by Steve Crawford » October 3rd, 2020, 12:50 pm

Tom G l a s g o w wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 11:53 am
Steve Crawford wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 11:26 am
if the server doesnt charge you corkage throw it to them as a tip. if they left it off it wasn’t an accident.
I practice this, but I think sometimes it’s waived without mentioning it was waived. Or maybe that makes me feel better about the principal/agent aspect of turning a restaurant fee into a tip.
that makes sense. tipping overall is a shitty institution and unfortunately this is just part of that.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#24 Post by Barry L i p t o n » October 3rd, 2020, 1:01 pm

ybarselah wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 9:48 am
1. corkage is a hospitality benefit extended by most restaurants - treat it that way. it's not a right. it's not a way to save money, even though that might be an added benefit.

2. there is zero connection with corkage fee, if charged, and the economics of the restaurant. so don't even think about it.

3. always, always, always, confirm in advance the restaurant's policy - fee per bottle, limits, etc. ideally get the name of the person telling you. sometimes the policy is on the website, so no need if that's the case. sometimes they say you cannot bring something on the list, which is fair but i'll go further and advise doing this even if they don't say it.

4. bring something "worth" bringing - this is obviously a sliding scale, but i do believe it's worth signaling to the restaurant that you view this whole matter as per #1 above.

5. when arriving, whomever greets you indicate that you called about the corkage policy and you brought a bottle with you. ask that person what you should do with it and then follow that instruction.

6. in most cases, i also think you should at the very least buy a round of BTG, cocktails, or best case, a bottle off the list.

7. offer your server or whomever is handling you wine a taste. don't push, but offer nicely.
I subscribe to this mostly.

I rarely buy off the list. I recognize it's more palatable to the restaurant, but I don't drink cocktails and don't like BTG offerings in general. If I'm with a group, happy to share a bottle that we buy, but these days, I don't drink much at any one sitting so it doesn't make sense to buy and bring if you are limiting yourself to a couple of glasses and aren't with a big group. Too me, it means drinking too much, if it's natural for you, by all means do so.

Make it so the server isn't losing money by tipping more generously. One way of thinking about itis to think of what the bill would have been had you ordered your regular drinks and wine, vs. what you are charged for corkage, and tip with that larger number in mind. If there is a sommelier doing the opening, probably best to tip them directly (at a fancy place, $20 per bottle is nice, but you could also tip $30 on 2 bottles or $50 on 3, depends on how great the service was). The point is that they are often not part of the tip pool but are compensated as a share of wine sales. (offering tastes are nice, but doesn't replace a cash tip no matter how pricey the bottle). If everyone is sharing in the tip pool, tipping 25% to 33% (depending on whether corkage was waived) is a simpler way of doing it.

If it's a restaurant that you go often, don't always go on busy times. They appreciate the business more when you aren't displacing folks who are buying off the list.

If I don't feel that I am treated warmly by the restaurant, I wouldn't BYO again there. Plenty of places treat me warmly when I take care of the servers, act appreciative of the privelege, and don't always go during prime time. Doesn't work everywhere, but have been treated warmly at top restaurants and middle tier ones following this approach. (if not warmly , in general, don't return). I get treated well far, far more often than not.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#25 Post by Barry L i p t o n » October 3rd, 2020, 1:19 pm

ybarselah wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 11:16 am
Arv R wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 11:02 am


Yaacov's list seems reasonable, but I'd point out that its the blinkered perspective of a wine professional in a high end environment. Perhaps in that rareified world every time corkage is offered it really is cannibalizing a supernormal profit from the wine list, but in more typical situations just because someone brings a $100 bottle doesn't mean they would have spent that off the list if denied corkage. I don't think those guidelines are reflective of regular non Michelin rated venues.
i was hoping someone would touch on this. my itb status is limited specifically to being the founder of a company that analyzes sales information of wine. i can tell you with utmost confidence that based on our extensive data, corkage has zero impact on the bottom line for a restaurant that offers it (meaning the type of places that have at least a half-decent wine program, not a random indian spot in murray hill). the cost of corkage is entirely in modifying their normal business processes. this therefore applies regardless of market or concept and merely goes under the umbrella of being a "good customer" which in my experience always results in the best returns. people working in restaurants are there to deliver hospitality - so let them. if you ever get the vibe that they are hostile or looking down on corkage it's likely because they've had awful experiences with it from bad customers.

so if my perspective is "blinkered" it's not because of where i live or what i do, it's because i'm also taking into account the other side of the transaction, which is rarely if every properly discussed here.
Great info. Wish it was more widely distributed as some prominent restuaranteurs think the concept is distasteful, and never allowed it.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#26 Post by HenryB » October 3rd, 2020, 1:22 pm

One thing I'd like to add, to be honest - I think its a bit rude to take a bottle of wine they have on the list, especially at the higher end.
That being said, my local restaurant is doing a magnum of 1998 Hermitage La Chapelle for like £1300, I've got one which cost like £150...
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#27 Post by I. Howe » October 3rd, 2020, 1:33 pm

From reading these boards for a few years, it seems that corkage varies considerably by location. Here in Orlando, I do it regularly. And I have never been made to feel uncomfortable about it.

When the server shows up and grabs the bottle, I try to make conversation with them and gauge / probe their interest in wine. Some have turned out to be wine geeks, just like me. Some could not tell you much about wine other than the color difference between red / white. If I sense any interest at all, I will ask them to grab a glass and try a pour. Sometimes I do this early, sometimes later, just depends on the moment.

One time recently, the server had started studying for her sommelier test, hoping to take it in 2020, but that was obviously derailed by COVID. I offered her a glass, but she said she was only allowed after hours, so I let her know to leave enough in the bottle and she could take it with her at the end of her shift. It was, I think, a 2014 Jean Foillard, which we might take for granted here on WB, but was something she was unfamiliar with, so she was very thankful.

When I am not charged corkage, I tip it back to the server. I figure I had planned to spend that money anyway. And if they did not charge me, it's probably because we had a really good time and I owe them more anyway.

As others have said, I never bring anything on the list. For me, this is easy. I like weird wines. The last wine I took to a restaurant was a 2005 Jean Foillard Cote du Py. I like Cru Beaujolais, I like Chinon, I like Rhone, I like aged Bordeaux. Try finding any of those on a wine list in Orlando. For you, since you are drinking Cali cabs, I would try to find small producers that you like. Carrying those into a restaurant will give you a conversation starter. "Yes, this wine is from Napa, but the total production was only 450 cases", or something along those lines.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#28 Post by Arv R » October 3rd, 2020, 2:00 pm

HenryB wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 1:22 pm
One thing I'd like to add, to be honest - I think its a bit rude to take a bottle of wine they have on the list, especially at the higher end.
That being said, my local restaurant is doing a magnum of 1998 Hermitage La Chapelle for like £1300, I've got one which cost like £150...
I think when venues have rules like that its impractical, and just causes problems. Not every place has their list available on line, and sometimes when they do, its dated and not reflective of what will actually be in their wine book upon arrival. And then, if you call to ask if your Ch. Hoity Toity is on the list, you can end up speaking to a hostess who has no idea, and won't check the list since she's busy now. One can also end up with the situation where the restaurant will view the 98 Beaucastel you might consider bringing the "same" as the 2011 Coudelet de Beaucastel they have, and thus barred from being corkage eligible.

My general life observation is that the more arcane/involved a restaurant's corkage policy is, the more likely I end up seeing 'closed for renovations' signs eventually. Everyone seems to think they can copy Thomas Keller's policies on corkage on the back end, without doing all the hard work on the front end that built the market power to command his fees.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#29 Post by Rodrigo B » October 3rd, 2020, 2:09 pm

HenryB wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 1:22 pm
One thing I'd like to add, to be honest - I think its a bit rude to take a bottle of wine they have on the list, especially at the higher end.
That being said, my local restaurant is doing a magnum of 1998 Hermitage La Chapelle for like £1300, I've got one which cost like £150...
While I do try to avoid bringing a wine on the wine list, but if a restaurant allows it, I don't think it's rude to bring a wine that's on their list and is on the expensive side.

While I may be willing to spend $300 on a bottle of wine at retail, I’m very unlikely to spend $800 on that same bottle at a restaurant. I understand that the realities of the economics of restaurants often times demand high mark ups, but at times I can’t help but feel ripped off having to pay multiple times the retail value of a wine, especially when the absolute value of that multiple is hundreds of dollars.

I do think it can be a bit rude to bring a bottle on the cheaper end. With the cost of the bottle plus corkage you could likely spend the same amount on a wine from a restaurant’s list (if they have a good wine list), but I’m not spending $800+ on a wine at a restaurant, hell I don’t even spend that much on a wine at retail.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#30 Post by HenryB » October 3rd, 2020, 2:14 pm

Arv R wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 2:00 pm
HenryB wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 1:22 pm
One thing I'd like to add, to be honest - I think its a bit rude to take a bottle of wine they have on the list, especially at the higher end.
That being said, my local restaurant is doing a magnum of 1998 Hermitage La Chapelle for like £1300, I've got one which cost like £150...
I think when venues have rules like that its impractical, and just causes problems. Not every place has their list available on line, and sometimes when they do, its dated and not reflective of what will actually be in their wine book upon arrival. And then, if you call to ask if your Ch. Hoity Toity is on the list, you can end up speaking to a hostess who has no idea, and won't check the list since she's busy now. One can also end up with the situation where the restaurant will view the 98 Beaucastel you might consider bringing the "same" as the 2011 Coudelet de Beaucastel they have, and thus barred from being corkage eligible.

My general life observation is that the more arcane/involved a restaurant's corkage policy is, the more likely I end up seeing 'closed for renovations' signs eventually. Everyone seems to think they can copy Thomas Keller's policies on corkage on the back end, without doing all the hard work on the front end that built the market power to command his fees.
I'm not saying its a venue rule, it's just somewhat poor etiquette in some ways. I may have only once or twice seen a restaurant have a policy that prevented people from bringing wines they already had
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#31 Post by Arv R » October 3rd, 2020, 2:22 pm

HenryB wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 2:14 pm
Arv R wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 2:00 pm
HenryB wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 1:22 pm
One thing I'd like to add, to be honest - I think its a bit rude to take a bottle of wine they have on the list, especially at the higher end.
That being said, my local restaurant is doing a magnum of 1998 Hermitage La Chapelle for like £1300, I've got one which cost like £150...
I think when venues have rules like that its impractical, and just causes problems. Not every place has their list available on line, and sometimes when they do, its dated and not reflective of what will actually be in their wine book upon arrival. And then, if you call to ask if your Ch. Hoity Toity is on the list, you can end up speaking to a hostess who has no idea, and won't check the list since she's busy now. One can also end up with the situation where the restaurant will view the 98 Beaucastel you might consider bringing the "same" as the 2011 Coudelet de Beaucastel they have, and thus barred from being corkage eligible.

My general life observation is that the more arcane/involved a restaurant's corkage policy is, the more likely I end up seeing 'closed for renovations' signs eventually. Everyone seems to think they can copy Thomas Keller's policies on corkage on the back end, without doing all the hard work on the front end that built the market power to command his fees.
I'm not saying its a venue rule, it's just somewhat poor etiquette in some ways. I may have only once or twice seen a restaurant have a policy that prevented people from bringing wines they already had
Whether its the restaurant's rule (which I've seen) or 'poor etiquette' on the patron's part, it's difficult for both parties to abide by it even if well intended.

I think a good lodestar for any kind of policy is whether its understandable, and implementable. The 'don't bring a wine on the list' may sound good in theory but I don't think works in the real world.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#32 Post by Philip N. Jones » October 3rd, 2020, 3:38 pm

It’s good to see that people do not think corkage is a God-given right, or people complaining about corkage fees.
Restaurants have trouble making a profit, so a reasonably high corkage fee is necessary. I am glad to pay it.
Here in Portland Oregon, most corkage fees run $15-25. The average is about $20. It is very very rare to find a restaurant here that does not allow corkage. Almost impossible to find one. We are very lucky. At the time that the pandemic hit, I was planning a trip to Phoenix and Scottsdale. Very difficult to find restaurants there that allow corkage. I think it is a government regulation thing.
I take wine whenever we go out. I like to drink my own wine, and save a buck or two. And I am happy to pay a corkage fee. Unless it’s $30 or $35.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#33 Post by Brian Tuite » October 3rd, 2020, 4:10 pm

The etiquette probably varies widely depending on where you live. Here in California I don’t think twice about bringing a bottle or two with me. Most times 1/2 the patrons have their own wines when coming in the door but being wine country that’s not uncommon.

Usually a red and a white or an older red and a back-up just in case. I’ll scan the list for a BTG or bubbles but for the most part the restaurant sets their own corkage fee that they feel is fair. Most will waive corkage for one if you purchase another from the list. Some have a sliding scale, $20 for the 1st bottle $25 for the second and/or limit how many you can open.

For wine dinners most will reduce/waive corkage and we’ll tip heavily afterwards. We’ve had a few nights at Rosso where the tip was larger than the tab for 12 people.

The first time might feel odd but we’ve been doing this so long it’s as normal as putting on shoes.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#34 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » October 3rd, 2020, 4:19 pm

Philip N. Jones wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 3:38 pm
It’s good to see that people do not think corkage is a God-given right, or people complaining about corkage fees.
Restaurants have trouble making a profit, so a reasonably high corkage fee is necessary. I am glad to pay it.
Here in Portland Oregon, most corkage fees run $15-25. The average is about $20. It is very very rare to find a restaurant here that does not allow corkage. Almost impossible to find one. We are very lucky. At the time that the pandemic hit, I was planning a trip to Phoenix and Scottsdale. Very difficult to find restaurants there that allow corkage. I think it is a government regulation thing.
I take wine whenever we go out. I like to drink my own wine, and save a buck or two. And I am happy to pay a corkage fee. Unless it’s $30 or $35.
Yes, it’s often a government thing. Many states do not allow licensed establishments to offer corkage. Then in some states where it is allowed, beverage reps lie to restaurants to get them to disallow it. I have direct experience with four Connecticut restaurants that were duped by the same distributor rep.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#35 Post by P Sepsas » October 3rd, 2020, 5:04 pm

As a Hotelier in Europe I can tell you what I offer in my establishments.

We allow the guests to bring their own bottle and we actually charge a corkage fee which is close to the profitability that we earn from our cheapest wine on the list.

Although we limit it to 2 bottles per table and the wine has to be a wine that we don't have in our cellar, our cellar has ~6k bottles. Of course there are exceptions and many times we waive the fee or the restrictions.

Some times it is even a complement if a guest brings a really nice bottle of wine to enjoy it at our hotel's restaurant.

Having a hotel/restaurant in which someone believes that it is the right place to enjoy his Leroy/Rousseau/Margaux or any of the 1st Tier wines can only be received as a complement.

Of course it is nice to offer a taste to the sommelier.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#36 Post by Rodrigo B » October 3rd, 2020, 5:19 pm

P Sepsas wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 5:04 pm
As a Hotelier in Europe I can tell you what I offer in my establishments.

We allow the guests to bring their own bottle and we actually charge a corkage fee which is close to the profitability that we earn from our cheapest wine on the list.

Although we limit it to 2 bottles per table and the wine has to be a wine that we don't have in our cellar, our cellar has ~6k bottles. Of course there are exceptions and many times we waive the fee or the restrictions.

Some times it is even a complement if a guest brings a really nice bottle of wine to enjoy it at our hotel's restaurant.

Having a hotel/restaurant in which someone believes that it is the right place to enjoy his Leroy/Rousseau/Margaux or any of the 1st Tier wines can only be received as a complement.

Of course it is nice to offer a taste to the sommelier.
Thanks for sharing your perspective Panos.

In your experience what types of wines do people generally bring? Is there a sort of rough average retail price of the types of wines that are brought to your establishment? Is it mostly really expensive and rare wine or do people bring in $200-$300 wines? More?

I’d be interested to hear from the perspective someone on the other side of things.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#37 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » October 3rd, 2020, 6:34 pm

Philip N. Jones wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 3:38 pm
It’s good to see that people do not think corkage is a God-given right, or people complaining about corkage fees.
Restaurants have trouble making a profit, so a reasonably high corkage fee is necessary. I am glad to pay it.
Here in Portland Oregon, most corkage fees run $15-25. The average is about $20. It is very very rare to find a restaurant here that does not allow corkage. Almost impossible to find one. We are very lucky. At the time that the pandemic hit, I was planning a trip to Phoenix and Scottsdale. Very difficult to find restaurants there that allow corkage. I think it is a government regulation thing.
I take wine whenever we go out. I like to drink my own wine, and save a buck or two. And I am happy to pay a corkage fee. Unless it’s $30 or $35.
No one complained about corkage fees until you posted.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#38 Post by Jeff Rosenberg » October 4th, 2020, 7:48 am

Steve Crawford wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 11:26 am
if the server doesnt charge you corkage throw it to them as a tip. if they left it off it wasn’t an accident.
On multiple occasions the corkage fee was omitted from our bill. This always brings a couple of questions to mind. Was the server authorized to waive the fee? Is the server surreptitiously trying to enhance their tip?

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#39 Post by Barry L i p t o n » October 4th, 2020, 8:09 am

If they say you are getting a free dessert, do you also worry about those issues?

How about If they give your party a free drink while you wait to be seated?

Absent a reason not to, I assume they have the authority and discretion to do so. No different than free dessert. If they have the authority and discretion to do so, then what they expect regarding the tip is not relevant. Nor do I think that’s the primary motivation, I know people who don’t tip any extra and the lower the bill the lower the tip.

Would love to hear from restaurant owners/management on the issue.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#40 Post by Jeff Rosenberg » October 4th, 2020, 9:36 am

Barry L i p t o n wrote:
October 4th, 2020, 8:09 am
If they say you are getting a free dessert, do you also worry about those issues?

How about If they give your party a free drink while you wait to be seated?

Absent a reason not to, I assume they have the authority and discretion to do so. No different than free dessert. If they have the authority and discretion to do so, then what they expect regarding the tip is not relevant. Nor do I think that’s the primary motivation, I know people who don’t tip any extra and the lower the bill the lower the tip.

Would love to hear from restaurant owners/management on the issue.
Based on my experience, free drinks and dessert are offered as assuagement for some issue at the restaurant. "We apologize for the delay on your reserved seating time. Can we offer you a complimentary cocktail?" or "Sorry for the mix up with your order. Please enjoy a dessert on us." Thus far in my experience, an omitted corkage fee has never come with an explanation.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#41 Post by Barry L i p t o n » October 4th, 2020, 9:51 am

I have gotten many non-corkage freebies without a corresponding issue for which they are trying to make up. Maybe less than half the freebies, but not insignificant. Perhaps that’s why we think of it differently.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#42 Post by pgrzesik » October 4th, 2020, 10:04 am

Bring whatever bottle you feel like bringing. They are literally charging whatever price they want for giving you the "privilege" to drink your wine. Don't feel compelled to order a drink or wine off their list. Tip is based on service - if I bring a bottle of wine and get bad service - the tip will be appropriate.

Recently a couple of friends of ours went to an overpriced steakhouse in NYC. I called beforehand and asked what their corkage policy was - was told $25 per bottle. Seemed reasonable. Got to the restaurant and was told its now $50/bottle. Place had maybe 5 occupied tables at the most. We said fine - we will take our business elsewhere and started walking out. Manager came running out of the place and said we open as many bottles as we want for free. We all chose not to dine at their establishment due to their sneaky practices.

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#43 Post by ybarselah » October 4th, 2020, 10:30 am

Rodrigo B wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 12:04 pm


Yaacov- interesting that you mentioned your research into this matter. My understanding of corkage fees, at least in talking to people in the industry was that the high corkage fee for some places tended to serve two purpose: (1) was to disincentivize people from bringing in their wines and instead to order from the wine list and (2) to serve in part as a replacement for some of that "lost" beverage revenue. So while corkage fee is not necessarily adding to the bottom line, it’s there to make sure it’s not hurting the bottom line. Curious to know some of the findings and data from from your research if you can share it.
while these may be reasons you hear and seem reasonable, the fact is that these decisions are rarely - if ever - made on actual numbers, etc. If the restaurant has an ego around their beverage program (which is endemic, from my pov) then #1 will certainly come into the mix. #2 is at best noisy from the data. fact is that corkage fees are very usually in a small range and based on what others are doing in the local market and concept. they huddle around a very small number range while the underlying financial realities and sales trends vary wildly.

the real value and cost of corkage is in the hospitality part of the entire relationship. what type of diners do you want or need? what is your program like? etc., etc., If i were making a one-size-fits-all corkage policy for restaurants it would be something like;

1. offer corkage, *probably.* the probably is that if you think it will engender you to a cohort that will result in more and better business. the default should be no corkage imo - meaning, you start with that idea and work up if you have high confidence that it will result in the right outcomes for your business.

2. work hard to ensure that you're delivering an experience that always results in #1 above. to me, that means fairly specific rules re: number of bottles, etc. again, the cost and value is the experience within the whole. not the individual diner or meal or transaction.

3. as for the actual fee, it should feel special AND should result in value to the diner and restaurant. the higher the better, up to a point. but i cannot stress this enough, based on the hard numbers, the decision tree must start with the default of no corkage. the restaurant should ask themselves why they should offer corkage and if it comes down to getting more business, then they have effectively lost the game before they started. if it's to get certain types of diners in that they believe will result in more and better business (better defined as higher spend, more loyalty, etc). then, and only then, should they keep going and figure out the right policy.

mark's post above is wildly off the mark and i'll endeavor to respond to it directly. the tipping angle specifically.
Last edited by ybarselah on October 4th, 2020, 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#44 Post by ybarselah » October 4th, 2020, 10:31 am

P Sepsas wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 5:04 pm
As a Hotelier in Europe I can tell you what I offer in my establishments.

We allow the guests to bring their own bottle and we actually charge a corkage fee which is close to the profitability that we earn from our cheapest wine on the list.

Although we limit it to 2 bottles per table and the wine has to be a wine that we don't have in our cellar, our cellar has ~6k bottles. Of course there are exceptions and many times we waive the fee or the restrictions.

Some times it is even a complement if a guest brings a really nice bottle of wine to enjoy it at our hotel's restaurant.

Having a hotel/restaurant in which someone believes that it is the right place to enjoy his Leroy/Rousseau/Margaux or any of the 1st Tier wines can only be received as a complement.

Of course it is nice to offer a taste to the sommelier.
i'd say this is about as perfect as it gets. succinct, clear, and - most important - shows the hospitatlity angle of the restaurant itself.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#45 Post by R. Frankel » October 4th, 2020, 11:54 am

Plenty of good advice here. My summary is - be polite, be gracious, know the rules, follow them.

My behavior - I pretty much always bring wine to restaurants, unless it's just not possible (like if I'm traveling). I bring whatever I feel like. My focus is on what I'm in the mood for, what my co-diners like, and what might go with the food. I let the restaurant handle the wine opening unless it's an older bottle (maybe > 10 or 15 years) and then I open it myself. I inform the server first about this, and open it at the table. I did have an experience once where a restaurant didn't let me drink a pre-opened bottle. I was sad.

Perhaps the only exception to this is with a large group with many bottles (i.e. a tasting event) in which we open lots of bottles in advance. This kind of event is always arranged in advance anyway, so not a risk.

I tip generously. If it's an event with more than one bottle, I tip very generously.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#46 Post by P Sepsas » October 4th, 2020, 3:22 pm

Rodrigo B wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 5:19 pm
P Sepsas wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 5:04 pm
As a Hotelier in Europe I can tell you what I offer in my establishments.

We allow the guests to bring their own bottle and we actually charge a corkage fee which is close to the profitability that we earn from our cheapest wine on the list.

Although we limit it to 2 bottles per table and the wine has to be a wine that we don't have in our cellar, our cellar has ~6k bottles. Of course there are exceptions and many times we waive the fee or the restrictions.

Some times it is even a complement if a guest brings a really nice bottle of wine to enjoy it at our hotel's restaurant.

Having a hotel/restaurant in which someone believes that it is the right place to enjoy his Leroy/Rousseau/Margaux or any of the 1st Tier wines can only be received as a complement.

Of course it is nice to offer a taste to the sommelier.
Thanks for sharing your perspective Panos.

In your experience what types of wines do people generally bring? Is there a sort of rough average retail price of the types of wines that are brought to your establishment? Is it mostly really expensive and rare wine or do people bring in $200-$300 wines? More?

I’d be interested to hear from the perspective someone on the other side of things.

There are two kind, on the extremes usually. People that come with a case of 10-20 Euro wines and they actually want to have cheaper experience at the restaurant (especially if they stay for a week for example), these guests usually will not want to pay the fee (they say we stopped at the winery and we have to drink them because we go back to our country etc.) these guests will be pissed off and they will order a glass of wine.

And then you have people that will bring interesting wines, either wines that are willing to drink specifically (anniversary, reminder of a memory from the past etc. ) and the ones that want to drink really expensive wines and they wish to avoid the restaurant mark up (which is understandable at some point, we all have been there). The last category tends to be and the most generous and more pleasant. They understand their obligations towards tipping offering a glass of wine etc. and I can't remember anyone that came with a beautiful bottle of wine and I actually charged them corkage fee.

One category which is really a pain (really hard work) for a restaurant but it is also a pleasant one to have, is when you have guests that they want to bring their own wine but they want to bring 10 bottles for example; for a theme (a vertical of one producer, or an horizontal on a region). This is a very difficult task, especially if they want them blind. You will have to choose the order of the service and my god, tons of glasses to be washed. In such cases you always charge the corkage fee because you actually have to do a lot of work, sometimes we decant them for hours and check them with them before we serve them. It takes a lot of time.

The wine event dinners are and the only cases where we waive the two bottle per table restriction.

These guests though, are usually repeated guests.

Long story sort is that if someone brings a bottle of wine on an establishment that doesn't worth ~20Euro corkage fee to be served in Riedel/Zalto Glasses from an experienced sommelier, then you can't be happy with paying it...
Panos Sepsas

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#47 Post by MatthewT » October 4th, 2020, 3:44 pm

Dan Hammer wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 10:46 am
Toby.

The restaurants that offer BYO want you to bring your own. They will probably charge you (I always call to ask how much the charge is). I'd rather bring my $60 bottle, and pay a $25 - $35 fee (reasonable to me) than buy a $100 bottle off the list that cost the restaurant $40. I still save money, and end up drinking better.

I've brought all sorts of wine, from $25 bottles to a $200 bottle. A better restaurant with fine dining rates a better wine. YMMV.

dh
This is exactly how I look at it. I'll bring a $40-50 bottle usually, pay the $25 fee, and it beats the $125 bottle they are selling. And I make sure I tip a reasonable amount for the alcohol (not 20% retail). Outside of that, I don't sweat it.

Now with de Negoce...I'll really save money ;)

Edit: Only referring to small tables (non events) and I'm in California. It's rather normal here.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#48 Post by Ian H » October 4th, 2020, 3:54 pm

This is pretty straightforward IMHO.

If a restaurant allows corkage, then bring whatever you feel like drinking as long as it isn't on their list.

That's it.
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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#49 Post by MikeHill » October 4th, 2020, 4:07 pm

MatthewT wrote:
October 4th, 2020, 3:44 pm
Dan Hammer wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 10:46 am
Toby.

The restaurants that offer BYO want you to bring your own. They will probably charge you (I always call to ask how much the charge is). I'd rather bring my $60 bottle, and pay a $25 - $35 fee (reasonable to me) than buy a $100 bottle off the list that cost the restaurant $40. I still save money, and end up drinking better.

I've brought all sorts of wine, from $25 bottles to a $200 bottle. A better restaurant with fine dining rates a better wine. YMMV.

dh
This is exactly how I look at it. I'll bring a $40-50 bottle usually, pay the $25 fee, and it beats the $125 bottle they are selling. And I make sure I tip a reasonable amount for the alcohol (not 20% retail). Outside of that, I don't sweat it.

Now with de Negoce...I'll really save money ;)

Edit: Only referring to small tables (non events) and I'm in California. It's rather normal here.
But the real question is do you tip as if the de Negoce bottle is a $150, $50 or $15 bottle! neener

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Re: General Corkage guidelines / etiquette

#50 Post by MatthewT » October 4th, 2020, 4:11 pm

MikeHill wrote:
October 4th, 2020, 4:07 pm
MatthewT wrote:
October 4th, 2020, 3:44 pm
Dan Hammer wrote:
October 3rd, 2020, 10:46 am
Toby.

The restaurants that offer BYO want you to bring your own. They will probably charge you (I always call to ask how much the charge is). I'd rather bring my $60 bottle, and pay a $25 - $35 fee (reasonable to me) than buy a $100 bottle off the list that cost the restaurant $40. I still save money, and end up drinking better.

I've brought all sorts of wine, from $25 bottles to a $200 bottle. A better restaurant with fine dining rates a better wine. YMMV.

dh
This is exactly how I look at it. I'll bring a $40-50 bottle usually, pay the $25 fee, and it beats the $125 bottle they are selling. And I make sure I tip a reasonable amount for the alcohol (not 20% retail). Outside of that, I don't sweat it.

Now with de Negoce...I'll really save money ;)

Edit: Only referring to small tables (non events) and I'm in California. It's rather normal here.
But the real question is do you tip as if the de Negoce bottle is a $150, $50 or $15 bottle! neener
+1. Let's derail this and every WB thread into a de Negoce thread.
I'm a Turk

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