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Aug 12, 2005 02:07 PM

Bring your own wine???

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I've never actually done this, although I have been tempted. I can buy a $100 or wine, pay $25 corkage and for $125 get a bottle of wine with dinner that they would charge $200+ for on the wine list.

Ok..the math works out nicely on a bottle of good wine...soooo....

Waht is the etiquette on brining in the wine? I know you should give th e sommelier a taste...other than that???

Do restaurants hate this? Treat you different? Comments?

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  1. As a server I have no issues with people bringing wine, because as a customer I sometimes bring my own wine. However, when I bring wine I will often (if there are more than two people) order a cocktail or a bottle of white wine to start the meal with. It is good to know if the restaurant has that wine on their list. Bringing a bottle that is on their list (meaning same vintage and all) is considered poor form, but I doubt anyone would say anything about it. It is also nice to offer your server a taste of the wine (if there is no sommelier) the server may comp the corkage fee if you do that (but I never expect it as a customer, it's just nice if it happens). Oh, same with buying a bottle they will sometimes comp the corkage if you buy a bottle of the list as well.

    1. Rule #1 is that when you make your reservation you ask what their corkage policy is.

      Etiquette is tricky, but it is generally frowned upon to bring something on the restaurant's own list. Personally, I only bring older bottles, not one just bought from the store down the street. Of course that requires a cellar to age wines. When travelling I do sometimes travel with older wines, but would never just buy a bottle from the store to save $$$. But others do so and lots of other things I find tacky. (And I probably offend plenty of people myself.)

      Offering the waiter a taste is a nice touch.

      And I frequently order a glass of white/champagne to go along with the first course.

      6 Replies
      1. re: SteveT

        BTW, how do you transport wines while travelling?

        1. re: supa

          I'd check the law in your state... I always keep mine in the trunk of my car, in a cardboard carrier... makes it handy to bring in the the resto as well. I also have a single bottle insulated sleeve with strap if I'm only bringing in one bottle.

          you can also use a styrofoam bottle shipper if traveling far... or on an airplane.

          1. re: withalonge

            I was more curious how he keeps the wine from overheating while he is travelling.

        2. re: SteveT

          I don't really drink much, so have never really wanted to BYOW, but I've always wondered how people are supposed to know what a restaurant has on their list? Most restaurant websites that I've seen don't carry full wine lists.

          1. re: Jacquilynne

            I think people who take this seriously would select a wine and call ahead to check before bringing it. I do feel that this process, in it's true form, is practiced to allow a wine connnoisseur to enjoy a wine not available at the restaurant and the restaurant allows it out of respect for that level of interest and enjoyment.

            I understand calling ahead, ordering something from the wine list as well (as a preferred habit, if you can afford it or want that much wine), sharing with the wait staff or sommelier, even sending the last of the bottle back to the kitchen. But, while I know that not bringing in something on the list is part of the etiquette, I have to wonder how often that is done, except by real wine buffs.

            I presume that the reason for checking is out of respect for the effort of the restaurant in maintaining a wine list and also the fact that allowing corkage is really something the restaurant doesn't really have to do (they wouldn't let you bring in your own steak and asked that it be cooked, would they?).Truth be told, I have to think that the vast majority of BYOW's are to save the cost (maybe that's cycnical, but I'd bet it's true).

            So........ BYOW has become much less of what it was intended to be and more an accomodation to the public. It's nice to follow the etiquette, but I have to think it's expected much more at the highest level restaurants and not by more 'every-day' places.

            1. re: Midlife

              Well, there are restaurants in SOCAL, that let you bring your own steak and you can cook it on their grill. I never got the point of that. And I've been reading about places that will cook your fresh caught fish.

              But back to wine. I was curious about this a few months back. IMO, every restaurant is different about how they feel about this. I watched people do this for years at one particular restaurant. I asked the bartender about how they felt about bringing a bottle and if the staff expected to get a taste.

              This particular restuarant didn't care. It was a very nice place too. The bartender said that if someone was paying corkage, the staff didn't expect a taste. It was only when corkage was waived that it was a courtesy to do so. However, the place was stellar in terms of serving customers and the staff didn't care either way. They just wanted you to have a nice experience.

        3. "Do restaurants hate this" - they just lost a $200 sale, do the math. Unless it is a special/unique bottle of wine I think it is in bad taste, especially if it is just to save money. Restaurants with good wine lists have to carry thousands of dollars in wine inventory, train staff and often have a sommilier. I'm sure a lot of people will disagree with me but save your wine for home or go to a BYOB restaurant.

          1. When traveling in the Napa Valley a few years back, we saw many folks bring a bottle of wine to almost every restaurant we visited. I assumed many of the patrons were vintners in the area. It was almost "the" acceptable thing to do there - sorry I ddidn't inquire as to the corkage policies.

            4 Replies
            1. re: claree11

              Here in the SF Bay Area it is OK to bring your own wine. Most places state their corkage fee on the wine list. The SF Chronicle restaurant reviews usally include the corkage fee.

              Some places have restrictions on the number of bottles per table. I can see the problem with people bringing in a bottle each and having what amounts to a wine-tasting.

              Some places will charge only one corkage for several bottles, especially if we open the wine and pour it ourselves (which we always do), and if we only use one set of glasses.

              Many Chinese or other ethnic places charge zero, or perhaps $5, or a dollar a glass. I'm still looking for a negative corkage fee - where they pay ME when I bring in my wine -- but no luck so far.

              Since they have a stated corkage fee, I see no problem with bringing in wine. I almost always bring my own wine (literally, since I make wine) or else something so obscure or ancient that it can't be on anyone's list. I have never had a problem. Sometimes we offer the waitperson a taste, and someimes they waive the fee -- then we boost the tip.

              I also know that the rules are different in different states.

              Intriguing question is how much to tip on the corkage fee. Usually we just add the fee in the total, then tip on that. One time we brought in a half-bottle, and bought two bottles off the (expensive) list. They still charged a corkage fee, which was about $25. Not nice.

              Some places charge a double fee for a magnum, or specify a fee per 750 ml bottle. Some of us have magnums and larger format bottles in our cellars, and this policy is the result of wise guys trying to pay a single corkage fee for a large bottle. I've tried that tactic :)

              1. re: Joel Teller

                I collect small production wines so we take our own wine very often (when eating in Washington DC) and always follow the following rules:

                Always ask about corkage when making the reservation.
                Never take something that is on the wine list.
                Always offer to share some of the wine, especially if it is a special bottle, with the server/sommelier/chef.
                When tipping, be generous, the server did not get a tip on the cost of a bottle of wine from the list so make it up.
                Never just take a cheap bottle of wine, taking wine is reserved for making sure you can have something good or what is just not available on any list. (i.e., rare or older)

                1. re: Midlife

                  Here's a thought:

                  Don't fuss. If, by remote chance, the bottle you brought is on their list, just put your bottle away and graciously order the bottle from their list, and pay their price. Or, if that's too expensive, order a different bottle, and put yours away.

                  In the wine country hereabouts, it's common for people to go winetasting, pick up a special bottle at the vineyard, and go into a local restaurant with it. I believe at least one of the upscale places in Sonoma county does not charge corkage on Sonoma wines.

                  With so many wines out there, it is hard to believe that your wine would be duplicated on their list.

                  In many years past, we had some special bottles (30-year old birthday wines for example), and we went to the restaurant a few days ahead of time, gave them the bottle, and had them serve it. That was fun for everyone.

              2. re: claree11

                that's how I started thinking about this" I am spending three days in Napa next week. I will be visiting some wineries and probably will be splurging on some nice bottles....

                I'll probably just order off the wine list anyway.