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Firsts...Bringing Wine to a nice Steakhouse...What do I need to know?

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It will be a first for us--bringing some nice cabs to an upscale steakhouse. What do I need to know--if anything? (etiquette, etc.) Thanks CHs!

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  1. Call the steakhouse and ask about their corkage policy. They may have rules -- a limit on the number of bottles you can bring, for example, or a requirement that you buy a certain number of bottles off their list -- that you should know about. They can also specify the corkage fee, which may prevent an unpleasant surprise the evening of the dinner. And if you have any special requirements, if you want to have the wines decanted, say, or served side by side for comparison purposes, you should mention them during the call.

    1 Reply
    1. re: carswell

      Carswell - well put.

      The only thing I would add - you might want to consider the effort made by the server when calculating your gratuity if you have special requests/needs (i.e. decanting, multiple glasses/bottles, etc...).

    2. First, and most important, etiquette - don't bring any bottle that is in their wine list and is available.

      1 Reply
      1. re: RCC

        You should find out if it is legal first

      2. One thing that'll I'll add to all of the good advice above is to consider bringing the wines to the restaurant a few days in advance of your meal. This is useful if the wines are old and likely have sediment, which will have the chance to settle out at the restaurant. If you bring it in with you at dinner, all the jostling from carrying and driving it can disturb the sediment and make decanting more difficult and less effective.

        -Nick

        1 Reply
        1. re: nja

          These are not old, just some highly rated cabs that make more sense than buying from the list (not very good wines & very expensive). I've only brought my own wine once--to a rather casual restaurant. It's always awkward doing something the first time. But, the more I do it, the more comfortable I'll become.

        2. Here in CA it's perfectly acceptable to bring your own wine. However, as has been pointed out, there are a couple of "rules" to follow. One, don't bring a wine that is on the wine list although bringing a much earlier vintage is usually acceptable. Just be sure the place doesn't have a vertical in the wine you bring (not uncommon at good steakhouses.) Two, bring a good wine, not some $20 bottle you picked up on the way to the restaurant. Three, offer to share some with the waiter or wine person or both. Be sure to check if there is a bottle limit. Some places in SF will only allow you to bring 2 bottles. Also, most places here will comp the corkage if you purchase a bottle off the wine list

          1. Some appropriate corkage etiquette discussion here...

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            1. It's all up to the restaurant's policy. The key is to make SURE what the corkage fee is up front so there's no mis-understanding later. So many times I call and make a reservation with Nancy and she quotes 10 bucks, then I call back to confirm with Joe and he quotes 20 bucks... that's a bunch of hooey... confirm the policy and re-confirm it when you confirm your reservation. THEY should tell you if there's nay restriction on bringing a wine they might have on their own list, btw.

              Otherwise, just bring the wine. I'll usually bring it in a discreet darker sack but sometimes I just walk in with a white plastic bag with the bottles. It just depends on how classy the place is. If it's a classy place I'll offer to let the host take the bottles from us before we sit down, otherwise I'll just take them discreetly to the table with me.