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First time bringing wine to a restaurant

  • m

We're going to a new Patina restaurant next weekend and as a promotion, they allow you to bring wine w'out charging corkage. My husband was hesitant - not wanting to seem penny-pinching, but I figure why not take advantage of this chance to drink better wine than we would order off a wine list?
Common sense dictates we wouldn't bring $12 everyday wine. Could I get some advice please about how crazy we need to get w/the wine we bring so as not to insult the sommelier? Also, any tips on how to most graciously do this? I assume I'd bring the wine discreetly in my NYBuilt wine bag. If we're not paying corkage, is there any extra tipping we need to do? If so, how much and to whom? Thanks!

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  1. Well...bring a wine you'll like. If you can get a look at the menu ahead of time, you might take it to your wine shop and try to pick out something that will complement what you think you'll order. you needn't go nuts on buying an expensive wine to bring, though. Normally, the restaurant would be getting their corkage fee regardless of whether you brought a $6 TJ's special or a $300 bottle you've had stashed for ages. Don't worry about insulting anyone.

    In my mind, when it comes to tipping, you should tip whomever opens/pours/serves the wine just as you would if the wine came off of the restaurant's wine list. You should tip just as though you purchased the wine from the restaurant.

    1. it would be considerate to let the restaurant know ahead of time, so they can set your table with proper glassware.

      it would also be nice to order some alcohol from them, cocktails before or glasses of champagne or something. don't worry about the sommelier -- he or she knows about the promo. it's nice form however, if you bring something not on their list.

      agree with the above about tipping.

      1. Tipping when you bring wine is always a touchy subject. Mostly it depends on the cost of the wines on the list. I normally add about $15-20 to the tip when I bring my own wine, and I always give some to the sommelier and/or the server. A good rule of thumb is to tip as if you purchased a bottle from the list. Of course, that brings up the issue of how much to tip on the wine as opposed to what you tip (%) on the food. There is quite a bit of diversity in the opinions on this issue, especially when the wine costs a lot.

        One other thing to remember, it is very bad manners to bring a wine that is available on the restaurant's wine list. I normally call ahead and let the restaurant know that I am bringing wine, and if possible what I am bringing in order to make sure it isn't on thier list. (That isn't usually a problem but that is a different story.)

        1. Dinwiddie is absolutely right: the only "sin" about bringing in your own wine is to bring something to the restaurant that is already on the list. If you are not sure if your wine is ont he list, call in advance and ask.

          And as the others have said, tip as if you bought (not brought) the wine.

          1. Thank you very much for your advice. The wine list isn't online but I will call the restaurant and ask. May I ask a more specific question about tipping as we usually don't go to restaurants w/sommeliers....will there be a line on the credit card bill for the sommelier (am I dating myself thinking of a line for the captain!?) or would we discreetly slip him a $20? Thank you.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mocro

              You only tip the sommelier if he/she helped you choose a wine. If you are going to tip the sommelier, a bill discretely given with a handshake of thankyou is the best way to go. There is not normally a line on the credit receipt for a separate tip for the sommelier like there is for the server.

            2. I always offer a taste to the sommelier - perhaps they've just humored me, but the offer has always been received with enthusiasm.

              1 Reply
              1. i would say that i take my own 95% of time i go out. my rule is that:
                1) don't take any wine that is on their list
                2) don't take wine that cost less than corkage (which do not apply in this case)
                3) always offer taste to sommolier and waiter
                i have taken bottles to patina many times and i just walk in with my wine in the wine bag and place it on the table...they would know what to do and type of stems to use.
                if you are going to patina...i would take something decent since it is one of the better place in la ;)
                have a great time!

                1. In many places, if you bring a bottle they carry they'll charge their wine list price - I have never had to worry about this, as if you bring small production, cellar aged, less popular regional, etc. it is highly unlikely it'll be on the list - I've never called ahead. And as for sharing - great practice to share with the sommelier.

                  1. This is sort of a tangent, but...

                    for those of you who would share with the sommelier, would you do this at just any place, or only a place where you had a relationship with the sommelier?

                    I've never brought a bottle somewhere that had a sommelier so I've never had occasion to think about this, but I think I'd have trouble sharing my delicious wine with a stranger. If, on the other hand, this particular sommelier had provided me with good wine in the past, I'd be happy to return the favor.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: oolah

                      I don't think you need to ask for the sommelier in order to hand out a taste. But, if the sommelier comes to the table to ask about the wine, or to help serve, etc. then it would be appropriate to offer a taste. So, a previous relationship with the sommelier wouldn't seem to me to necessary...but offering a taste would be a great way to start building one.

                      This next comment would apply more for a restaurant that you know you're going back to; if you have brought a wine you know you like, the sommelier with then have an idea of your tastes and be in a better position to help you navigate the wine list in the future.

                      1. re: oolah

                        I would offer a taste to any sommelier, relationship or not. In absence of a sommelier I offer a taste to my server and/or to the chef - when I bring something special it somehow seems even more so when others can appreciate it. About 99% of the time it also gets the corkage fee waived ;)

                        1. re: brokergal

                          That's really nice of you. I guess I've been stingy all this time. It never even occurred to me to share and I'd never heard of this etiquette.

                          My most common BYOB is a local pizza place with no liquor license. The wine we bring with us is nothing fancy, but it is very drinkable -- maybe I'll offer some to the pizza-maker next time we go. Thanks :)

                          1. re: oolah

                            I don't know if sharing my wine speaks more of my generosity or frugalness - in my mind sharing a bit of wine to get out of paying corkage is a no-brainer ;)

                            1. re: brokergal

                              I don't share to get out of the corkage fee (although it happens sometimes) but because I think wine should be shared. I collect small production wines and the sommelier/server is not likely to have tasted that particular wine (when they only make 100 cases, it doesn't make it to wine lists here in DC) and I think that it is only right to share a glass with someone who will appreciate it. You should see some of my wine group's dinners, the sommeliers love to see us show up since they will get to taste at least 10 or 12 wines that are not on their list and probably not often opened in the restaurant.

                        2. re: oolah

                          I do this whenever and wherever I bring in a bottle of wine, exactly as "brokergal" does.

                          1. re: zin1953

                            Off topic - zin1953 - you clearly enjoy wine. Let me take this opportunity to introduce you to Starry Night Winery - my husband Michael is one of the four original partners. Are you familiar with us?

                        3. Patina is obviously making the promotion for a reason, so take advantage of it. Just don't take the situation for granted. There are many subtle ways to scratch their back, back. That's up to you. It seems fine dining may be getting the best of you. Relax, you're in LA, order an extra appetizer and/or one of their better bottles. Enjoy your meal!

                          1. Bring whatever wine you want. It would be much better to bring a $15 bottle of great riesling than a $100 bottle of great cabernet IF the riesling fits the food better... Always think "what wine is best with this food"....

                            I usually just bring them in a discreet wrapped plastic bag. If the host wants to take the wine, then bring it to your table, fine, otherwise just bring it to your table yourself, take it out of the bag and place in middle of table.

                            ONE KEY... if you're bringing a wine that should be chilled, chill it BEFOREHAND...

                            As for tip, just figure that you bought the wine there. Figure what it would price out at on their list, and tip based on that and you'll be fine.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Chicago Mike

                              As for tip, just figure that you bought the wine there. Figure what it would price out at on their list, and tip based on that and you'll be fine.

                              really? what if you take bottles such as harlan, colgin etc...someting that might be $300-$500 on the list? would you still tip according to the list price?
                              i usually just tip usual 20-25% of the bill when i "byo"

                              1. re: rickym13

                                Yeah, I don't really factor in the price of the wines that I open at dinner, although I do factor in the volume. If we have 6 open bottles and we were given decanters and new stemware and treated well that is different than if we only open two. In general, whatever the corkage is, I figure the tip should be roughly 20% on whatever the bill would be if all the wines we opened were $30ish or $50ish or $80ish (depending on the type of restaurant). I never really figure it out that way, though, generally just around 25%-30% on the bill if wine service was great. (FWIW: I generally tip 20% on the post tax bill when ordering wine off the list if the service is good.)

                                1. re: whiner

                                  whiner is being too modest, I've often seen him tip very well when he brings wine.

                                  I've always included the cost of the wine in the bill for determining the tip when I buy from the list, since I figure if I can afford the wine, I can afford the tip. However, I also try to tip well when I bring wine, and usually try to approximate what it would have cost me on the list as a guide. As I noted earlier, tiping on wine, whether you bring it or purchase if from the list, is a hot topic among the wine crowd. Even the major wine writers opinions are all over the place. But if I get good service, expecially good wine service, I try to tip very well. (But then I always try to tip well because I was a waiter when I was in college, many, many year ago.)

                                  BTW, whiner, we will raise a glass to you and your better half at the next Crü dinner this Sunday.