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Jun 24, 2007 05:55 AM

BYOB to a resto that has a good selection


Jfood is not trying to be a flame but is trying to understand the "WHY?" question.

If a resto has a nice selection of wines, why is it OK to bring a bottle. Jfood was eating in one of his favorite local resto and another 4-top brought a couple of bottles of what looked like regular wine, nothing special.

Why is it OK to bring regular wine to a resto? Should one be able to bring their favorite sides, or maybe one of the people are on the Zone diet and want to bring their entree?

Why is wine a carveout to eating the food and beverages at a resto.

Just trying to understand.


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    1. It _ought_ to be the case that one brings a special or a hard to get bottle to a restaurant only after making certain it is not offered on the wine list. This is a perfectly acceptable practice and one that restaurants don't in my experience mind in the least. In my mind, if you know you're going to have more than one bottle of wine, you should approach it as a bring one special bottle, buy one from the list situation.

      These days, though, many people see brining wine as a way to save money. Those folks wil tell you, I think, that restaurants are gouging on wine prices with markups of, sometimes, a few hundred percent. As wine has become more widely available and the restaurant going population has learned what wines cost retail, it can indeed be insulting at times to see a wine you know you can get at the wine shop two miles away for $18 listed at $65 on a restaurant list. The math is fairly easy, $18 retail, say $20 corkage....

      This is the sort of example that makes this a difficult thing for me to decide about. I virtually never bring a bottle of wine to a restaurant (honestly, a lot of that has to do with being fairly able in the kitchen and so when it comes time to open a special bottle, its almost always at home) but I have on occasion. A bottle of Dom Perignon for my wife's 30th birthday, for example. We did buy another bottle to have with most of our meal though and shared the bottle with the manager and the chef (they were the only two working the restaurant at the time we ate).

      To your specific question about why wine is carved out....I believe because its far easier to know the price a wine (or similar wine) sells for retail and to see just how high the markup is. Its much more difficult to do with food and labor, etc. Further, the wine service at many restaurants is simply not what it used to be, begging the question "why the high markup?" Decanting seems, by and large, to be a thing of the past except at a handful of places and far more often than is reasonable, I or my wife ends up with a pile of sedament poured into our glass. So, from both a price and service perspective, its easier to see the problems with wine than with the food.

      Lastly, restaurants allow patrons to bring wine. That's the biggest reason. They have a policy, charge a fee and that opens the door. Not all restaurants do, of course, but most in my experience.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ccbweb

        I agree. A bottle that is brought to the restaurant may not be particularly expensive or hard to find, but perhaps the diner thinks it will be a great match with the meal. Or maybe it has sentimental value.

        Crucial steps, however include:
        -Looking into the selection before arriving to make sure the bottle is not on the list
        -If possible buy a bottle from the restaurant - seems to be a 'keep everyone happy' type move
        -Offer the manager/chef/sommelier a glass or at least a taste. Even if they say know it's a huge gesture. And in conversation maybe say why you're bringing it - e.g. "we went to Napa on our honeymoon 5 yrs ago and bought this bottle, thought it would be special since it can't be found outside the area".

        That's my personal observation through my years of knowing my wine-connoisseur husband & father-in-law!!

      2. It's funny you bring this up. I love wine with my meal, but am not particularly a wine snob. With that said, nothing burns my patoot more than to be expected to pay $46 for a $12 bottle that I drink at home! I realize restos have to make money and was ok in the days of the 200% or maybe even 250% markup. But this is ridiculous. DH and I have a child and don't get to eat out as much as we'd like. When we go out for a nice occasion, I don't mind spending a little on wine. However, if I'm going to pay $70 for a bottle, I'd rather spend it on a $40 bottle plus corkage instead of on a $22 bottle.

        I know it's perhaps not proper wine etiquette. However, I, for one, am sick of being gouged.

        1. I really think this issue is a function of the familiarity people have with the retail price of wine. I've seen a $32 price tag at a resto on a bottle I know I can easily buy for $9 (that likely cost the shop $6) and that just seems unfair. I then asssume they are making the same huge % on the rest of the list as well. I have NO idea, however, whether that plate of Pork Chops (with the $30 price tag) cost the rest $5 or $10 or what. People just don't have familiarity with the cost prices of wholesale food, but they know that wine is a low markup item at most retailers.

          Beyond the special occasion, special significance wine that is brought to a resto, I have to believe that most of it is a price thing. It often is for me.

          1. FYI there's a really interesting article about this with relation to wine price in this month's food and wine magazine- worth a read.