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Tipping for Wine? [Moved from General Topics]

I know it's a subject that has been beaten to death, but I'd like to hear opinions of others who order bottles of wine with dinner. Do you consider the tip differently for the wine than for the food? I've always been told that a flat $5.00 or $10.00 per bottle, depending on the price of the wine. I'm sure a server might not agree with this thinking. All that said, I usually tip 20% on the total bill, even for so-so service. Am I an idiot?

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  1. I think the majority go by the motto, if you can afford the wine you can afford the tip.

    1. I don't subscribe to this thinking...but I have a friend who used to work in the restaurant industry and she told me that you are not supposed to tip on the alcohol on a dinner bill. I was very surprised when she told me this...it doesn't seem right. Maybe because restaurants totally mark-up the price of alcohol? Don't know. Although I have been to several restaurants where the alcohol is separated from the food on the bill...and they show the total food cost and the total alcohol cost. I still tip on the entire cost of the bill.

      1 Reply
      1. re: AlliantK

        Old thread, yes. This was pasted into a newer post.

        Your friend is 100% incorrect. I can only imagine where/when she worked in a restaurant.

      2. At non-high end restaurants, servers generally tip out a portion of their tips to buspeople and hosts; they make their tip-out based upon overall sales, rather than food sales and alcohol sales separately. So, if you're bottle of wine is 50 bucks, and you tip 5 on it, essentially the server is at a loss. Just something to think about. I know that it takes them no extra effort or work to bring and open wine, but conversely, they shouldn't be penalized because you order a bottle of wine rather than 50 dollars worth of food on which you would tip.

        1. Basic rule: You tip on the pre-tax amount, including alcohol, unless you had a sommelier or wine steward advising and handling the wine, in which case you tip that person separately. There are dozens of older threads that discuss particular variations, which you might want to read if you are interested as a lot of Hounds don't pipe up for FAQs like this.

          1. if the wine bill is over 100.00 just ask for two checks-one for the food(20percent tip more or less depending on the service) and 10 percent on the wine - learned that in Belguim - good idea,non?

            1. Cheap is as cheap does. Consider the tip to be part of the cost of dining out. The percentage that I tip is based on the service, and I consider the wine to be part of the cost of the meal.

              1. 20% of the total bill rounded up to the nearest "0" or "5" is my starting point. That includes booze.

                I find it interesting that this question comes up often but the question doesn't come up of "should I tip 20% on steak or the special" vs. if the person orders the chicken or pasta dish or another less expensive item.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                  probably because low to high may range from $15 - $45 on the entree ($6 delta on tip) and $25 - $525 for wine ( $100 delta).

                  jfood does not drink so no dog in this hunt but paying the delta for the wine is what probably spells the difference. And jfood understand the decanting and the carefulness and all that stuff, just point to a solution not taking a position.

                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                    Although I am firmly in the camp of those who say you tip on the full pre-tax total, I can see why the question comes up. It's extremely rare for the most expensive entree on a menu to be more than four or five times the price of lower-priced entrees, while a high-end wine can easily cost 10 or 20 (in extreme cases, even 50) times more than a low-end bottle. One bottle of wine may cost more than all the food at a group table put together.

                    So as I say, I don't do differential tipping on food and alcohol but it's not hard to see the argument for the other side. Which is why it's such a common and controversial subject.