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Tipping on Wine [ Split from Manhattan ]

[ Note: This thread was split from the Manhattan board at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/361713 -- The Chowhound Team

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You should NEVER include wine for the tip. So, to answer your question, yes.

Also, if you consider how much labor goes into the food at Per Se, you'll realize that $210 is actually quite reasonable. I have seen $40 entrees at some restaurants that have nothing to recommend of themselves other than the fact that they think that they can somehow ride on the coat tails of places like Per Se in price but not quality or service.

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  1. Are you saying that people should subtract the alcohol from their bill before calculating the tip? I've never heard this before. I've always tipped 20% on the bill unless something unusual happened.
    Jeremy

    1. Why shouldn't you include wine in the tip? The server has to open the bottle, pour it, and constantly refill your glass. In many cases, the wine needs to be decanted. The server also has to answer questions about the wine. If the server has done this for you, why haven't they earned a tip?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Fielding

        Of course wine should be included in the tip... in the same manner as for the rest of the meal.

        There has always been the following attitude around regarding tipping on wine... the server (waiter, sommelier, etc) shouldn't be tipped the same percentage as for the meal because wine is so variable in price... ie. the waiter/sommelier does the approximately the same thing (open/pour) for a $40 bottle as they do for a $500 bottle. In fact, it's a little more work (and requires more expertise) to open a more expensive bottle most of the time (often its older, more delicate cork, sediment, etc). In any case, certainly one can understand the logic of this argument. I don't agree with it.

        My view, is that you figure the tip the same across the board if the service is good. If you order a $500 bottle, you must expect to tip accordingly. Figure it in to the price of the bottle. In Europe, tax and tip are included in the prices you see on the wine list. You pay the same tip percentage no matter what the price... $40 or $10,000.

        That said, where a tip isn't included, I think its appropriate to tip a lower percentage if you order a very expensive bottle and the wine service was not good. Say for example the wine is $500 and they don't handle it properly, its not the right temperature, or they don't refill the glasses properly. If you're not happy with the wine service, lower the tip % accordingly. Basically, its the same concept as for the food portion.

        Good service should be rewarded with a nice tip... the fact that its food or wine doesn't make a difference.

      2. Why wouldn't you tip 20% on the wine? This doesn't make any sense to me. A lot of work goes into wine selection and maintenance, particularly at a high end restaurant.

        Here's my policy: if you can afford the food & wine, you can afford the tip. I don't honestly believe there are people out there that can shell out $1500 for a bottle of wine at dinner, but can't afford the $300 tip. Leaving less is just cheap.

        1. I thought it was clear, but sorry if I was confusing. I agree with you. I stated that you should tip on the wine just as you do for the food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: WineTravel

            WineTravel, I was responding to the OP, not you. :)

            Sorry -- these new boards take some getting used to!

          2. I'll admit it- I take out wine before I tip and add a little on to my tip for wine service after the 20% is calculated. There's no reason a waiter gets 40 bucks on a 200 dollar bottle of wine. You didn't really do anything to earn it. Now 10-20 bucks on a 200 dollar bottle maybe, but I'm never giving more than about 20 bucks per bottle back to the server.

            9 Replies
            1. re: jpschust

              My take on this is that the server didn't do anything to earn a larger tip amount on a $50 menu food item than on a $15 one, but you don't seem to begrudge that. So....... for wine within a reasonable price range, I don't see why a 20% tip is unreasonable at all. Where I personally get into this is for wine that is significantly above the range of the food prices. For some reason I think there's a difference..... though I wouldn't want to try to defend that position based on the 'if you can afford the item you can afford the tip' argument. I must be basically cheap, because I would have trouble tipping 20% on a $200 bottle of wine with a $75 meal bill. Go figure.

              1. re: Midlife

                I think we are right on the same page. OK- I get when I order a 40 dollar entrecote, a 15 dollar truffle appetizer and a 12 dollar dessert why the waiter gets a 20% tip on 67 dollars. I just don't get why if I pair it all with a 200 dollar bottle of wine why my tip has to go from about $13 to about $53 for making very little effort, especially if I chose the wine. The waiter didn't have to get the vintage reserved ahead of time. He didn't have to make sure it was prepared to my liking. He didn't have to do anything but take the foil off the bottle and pop the cork to let me taste it. Frankly waiters should be glad they get tipped even 10% on nice bottles of wine. I'm happy to tip over 20% on food, and I regularly do, but on wine you'll never see it from me.

                1. re: jpschust

                  That makes NO sense! The waiter didn't work any harder on your $40 entrecote than he did on your $12 appetizer or your $200 wine, yet you're giving him the full 20% on the food only. And in fact, the waiter does have to ensure you like the wine -- that's why they pour a taste.

                  Again, if you can afford a $200 wine, you can afford a $40 tip. If that seems too rich for your blood, don't order a $200 wine. It's not fair to stiff the waiter.

                  1. re: oolah

                    He's not getting stiffed- he's still getting tipped on food, just not on wine. He is doing more work- he's going to be the one to deal with it when I send my food back if it isn't done correctly, he is the one dealing with the kitchen staff, he's the one who's got to make sure the service is timely, he's got a lot more responsibility on the food side than on the wine side where all he has to do is grab the bottle and open it. He's not even going to be the one pouring it as I'm going to do that. It's not too rich for my blood, he just doesn't deserve it.

                    1. re: jpschust

                      if you order the $50 prime rib, and your friend just orders a salad, do you skew the tip?

                      better bottles of wine require (ok, should get) a better glass. if reidel, your server has to hand-wash those, btw. then it must be decanted. that vessel also must be hand-washed later.

                      the hostility of guests who insist on pouring their own wine has always scared me a little. a polite remark along the lines of, "we'd like the bottle to last through dinner," should suffice. if the waiter remains overly aggressive, THAT should affect the tip. besides, nobody is making you rush to empty your glass.

                      when you mentally juggle out, oh this perecent for food and only this percent for wine, your waiter has no idea what your arithmetic is. if you're ordering $100 bottle, is $20 instead of $10 really such a huge deal in your universal picture?

                      if service is crap, then so should be the tip. fuzzy math from guests just leaves your server wondering if he did something wrong.

                      a friend of mine worked at a place with notoriously high wine prices. a table of 4 men ordered 5 very pricey bottles and lots of expensive food --truffle and caviar supplements, etc. he and the sommelier had been running their butts to keep up with the questions, the glassware, the decanting and the table maintenance. the total check was nearly $3000 and the wines came to about $2000. when the host paid the bill, he said, "the wine prices here are outrageous, so i'm tipping you on what i think the bottles should cost." he left a $200 tip. that was 7 years and the arrogance still astounds me.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        That's not even a tip on the wine, and I'm not talking about that. But what would have been sufficient? Surely not a 600 dollar tip on that meal were 400 of the tip comes from wine. You've got to be kidding me if that's what you are expecting.

                        $1000.00 meal = 200 or so in tip (give or take a bit for better or worse service)
                        4 bottles at $500 a bottle = maybe an 80-100 dollar tip, perhaps more if we are talking about decanting.

                        That said, we are now talking let's say a 300-350 tip- I'd think that would be more than generous for that.

                        1. re: jpschust

                          i never said anything about what my friend "expected." however, it was a table that was very labor-intensive for both wine and food, and as i mentioned i've never been more shocked by a customer's arrogance in all my life.

                          can you imagine saying to a waiter, "the truffles this year aren't as good as last, so i'm tipping you on what i think that dish should have cost"? or to that ignorant guy, "gee, that stock is trading for $50 a share, but i think it's only worth $30, so that's all the commission i'm willing to pay you."

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            If I could do that with stocks my portfolio would look better :)

                            I think there are fair tips and fair expectations, my ultimate perception is that the expectation of 20% on a high priced bottle of wine is an unfair expectation.

                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                          In your first case- yes I skew the tip a little bit up. There's no purely defined calculation here for how I tip, though I will say most of my tips end in the 20-25% range for food and in about the 10% range for wine.

                          I prefer to pour my own wines and I expect a server to respect that. It's not done out of hostility and it's always done politely. It's easier for us at the table to gauge our own speed that way and my groups tend to prefer that.