Wine list buying vs. corkage habit

I was looking at some local winelists (Angler, Auburn, Margot) and considering whether they seemed appealing to me. Part of it was considering my own habits, and I wonder what others do. Note that my wife sim in the wine business. I am excluding dinners at accounts of hers. Also, we have a slightly different dynamic in that we have an endless free supply of $30 retail wine. So we can bring lower end stuff like that without having any purchase cost.

  1. At restaurants overall as a total, what’s your party’s ratio of brought/corkage bottles to bought off a list?
    I realize that we bring a lot, and I opt for cocktails, beer, or one by the glass. So I am 5 bought / 1 brought.

  2. For dinner dining moderate and above, what % of the time do you bring a bottle?
    I would say we even gravitate toward places we can bring, so 60% of the time.

  3. What is your percentage of bottles brought that would be $150+ on a list, to bottles bought for $150+ on a list?
    This is where we are stark. When we buy a bottle it is almost never over $150. So we are 10 brought to 1 bought at that level.

    The last question kinda of came up when looking at the Angler list. It’s actually a very deep list with a lot of wines that appeal to me. But a lot of it is over the $200 mark, so with our habits, and the increased current mark-ups, I’d actually almost never buy a $200 bottle and $150 is rare. Above $150 I have to both like the wine AND see a mark-up below average.

100% of the time everyone brings a bottle to share. Also gives me a chance to open something of mine that I’ve been meaning to open. We may or may not start with a cocktail beforehand. Me personally would glance at the wine list to see what the restaurant carries, but we rarely order anything.


I rarely bring wine. Maybe one out of 20 times. When I do I am more likely to bring wine when it is more of a group/event/birthday type dinner. I will bring some magnums and the like. Usually will buy a few bottles off the list. If it is a meat-cnetric place, maybe I bring the reds and order a few whites. I don’t think I could give a ratio, though. At places I know and they know me, I pay less attention because they know they will be OK in the long run if I just bring that night, and I don’t worry about buying from them. Other places, I probably will be more conscious of throwing the place a few bought bottles off the list.

Typically do a cocktail, a beer and glass with dinner. Rarely a bottle from the list and, when we do, it’s sub $100. Always prefer bringing a nice bottle if the venue allows. Hate paying the markups on wine when I have a cellar of great juice at home.

Unless the restaurant has an amazing cellar, I bring my own. I like older wine, and 99% of all restaurants have young wines with horrible mark ups. Happy to pay a reasonable corkage

99% list buyer.

I like to try wines I haven’t had before, see what’s on the menu to match from the list, ask the wine server about ideas and pairings.

I can drink my own wine at home any time, so when I go out I like to go out and leave the cellar behind.

For special occasions that might make for a specific wine to be opened, vintage specific celebrations, or a wine group thing, then we will bring wines.

Unless the restaurant has an amazing cellar, I bring my own. I like older wine, and 99% of all restaurants have young wines with horrible mark ups. Happy to pay a reasonable corkage.


We don’t bring wine to avoid the cost at the restaurant; we bring it to be able to drink what we want that may have some age or other significance. I wouldn’t bring some widely-available wine.

Neither my wife nor I drink cocktails or beer. If we don’t have wine with us, we order something off the list, which happens most often while traveling.

But we’ve also rejected restaurants after perusing the wine list and not finding anything worth drinking. We just go somewhere else.

Pretty much the same; except, when at my regular neighbourhood pintxos bar (owned by good friends), I just buy txakoli or albariño from the wine list.

95% bring wine

I would rather buy a beer or cocktail than purchase wine off a list at a restaurant.

Knowing the cost and retail pricing and availability of the wines on a list is frequently a curse. As a result, I almost always bring my own both to avoid the absurd markups and to drink what I want to drink, which are mostly older wines and interesting wines that aren’t going to be on the list. The dining experience is diminished when I see a list full of uninteresting wines at ridiculous markups, but a list of grossly overpriced wines I’d otherwise love to order can be ruinous.

That said, I love coming across a wine list that has wines I want to drink at pricing such that I’d rather drink their bottle of a given wine than one I’ve bought at retail. It makes me happy and to want to come back. I’m also much more likely to buy booze at a restaurant if they have a strong cocktail program.

I already own enough bottles that I’ll probably die with some of them. I’m not buying something at a big markup when I’ve got better stuff at home that I need to drink, and I know I’ll like it. There’s definitely a trend at mid-high level restaurants of having esoteric wine lists, and I don’t feel like rolling the dice on some hipster sommeliers’ “funky” Loire Cab Franc.

I don’t explicitly do this to save money, but I’d be lying if I said the fact that it typically WILL save money didn’t factor into the decision.

If they have somewhat reasonable corkage, I usually prefer to bring my own bottle, sometimes because they don’t have what I want, but more often because I just think it’s a better value. When corkage is $50 or so, I’ll usually get a glass or two of something at the restaurant.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I was with a party which ordered a wine off a restaurant list.

And increasingly we don’t even go to restaurants in the first place.

We just go to somebody’s house & cook a big dinner & pop some corks on the best wines from the local retail scene.

Restaurants are a COLOSSAL waste of money.

Given the prices I see at the chi-chi restaurants, I can’t imagine Dave Ramsey approving of a monthly restaurant budget for anyone with a net worth less than about $10 million.

At home in Philadelphia, where most restaurants are BYO, we bring wine nearly 100% of the time. In NYC, it’s about 50-60% now that I have to schlep wine with me on the train if I want to bring. Most wine lists have nothing that interests me enough to waste the calories, so if I know I’ll be buying, I’m selective about venue.

On the flip side, though, we travel a great deal and often don’t bring wine to restaurants when we do. Don’t get me wrong - we travel with wine for sure, but we tend to drink it at our rental apt/house or at friends’ homes. It helps that we tend to go places with excellent wine lists. We just got back from Galicia, Spain, for instance, where even the highest end restaurants will have pages of delicious, food friendly, local wines at under 50 EUR tops, not to mention great champagne. It’s rare for us to spend a lot on restaurant wines, unless there are great values. Sometimes it is expensive to know a lot, like when you realize that this $500 bottle is a screaming deal. :slight_smile:

most of my eating is in NYC, i’d say i bring 30% of the time and it’s always something special. but even then 100% of the time i buy one off the list. i have a professional bias towards this now, but i’ve pretty much always done this.


Good point, thanks Yaacov. Agreed. Unless the place is truly BYO only, like many in Philly, we almost always buy something off the list as well.

Mostly corkage for at least 1 bottle, like 80-90%. I buy and taste alot of weird wines so I don’t feel the need to explore new wines at a restaurant. We do buy a second bottle of the list about 50% of the time.

In fact I was really annoyed that Fiola in DC changed their policy on corkage and does not allow it now. I didnt realize until yesterday. No time to get another reservation at an equivalent restaurant, so I’ll suck it up and buy from the list tomorrow.

I still don’t understand why 3x markup applies to both $20 wines as well as those that retail for $500. grumble grumble.

I VERY rarely buy off the list other than a cocktail. While I know it doesn’t help the ownership of the restaurant, I compensate the waitstaff and sommelier appropriately for the accommodation of letting me bring my bottles to lunch/dinner.