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OK to bring my own wine from Trader Joe's? [moved from LA board]

Thanks for all the helpful responses. One ancillary question here. I am not a big wine drinker; in fact I didn't drink at all for five years and now do only slightly. I'd like to enjoy some wine with this meal, but don't want to spend an arm or a leg. I'm considering bringing in a bottle from Trader Joe's and paying the $20 corkage, but I'm a little embarrassed about the thought of bringing in two buck chuck. Any ideas on how much I should spend on my own bottle?
Thanks.

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  1. Well, if you spend at least $20, you won't feel like the corkage is ripping you off. Truthfully, you can get a good wine for les than $20. I reccomend a reisling, or non-california chardonnay, maybe a gwurtz-you want maybe a mid-range white or lighter to atch with whatever may come.

    Dr Loosen has some good reisling.

    i also like a wine called St. M by loosen and Chateau san Michelle. Lietz Dragonstone is good and affordable.

    Alma Rosa has some very nice wines-organic!

    Go to a good wine shop like Vendome, Red Carpet, Winehouse, Silverlake Wine or such, tell them where you're eating, what you'r willing to pay, what you like to drink-and they'll find you something nice for a price you can afford-and no one will look down on you for drinking what you LIKE! That is the truth behind true love of wine-drink what oyu like, price isn't aways an indicator of flavor!

    Also, you CAN buy wines by the glass at Providence, and just ask the very knowledgeable sommalier to pict one or two wines to go. this costs more than a bottle, looking at the percentage of $$ to amount of wine-but it can be a good option.

    1. Very bad form to do something like that. Think about it from the restaurant's perspective. They put a lot of time into a well-thought wine list. They hire competent staff and train them. They use nice stemware and then you decide to go to Trader Joe's to buy a $10 bottle of Perrin Cotes du Rhone just to save a few bucks with the corkage?

      My suggestion would be, tell the waiter or wine person your story: I don't drink that much but I do enjoy some wine with the meal. Can you suggest something in the lower price range that would pair nicely with what I am ordering?

      Corkage is a privilege not a right. Some restaurants in other parts of the country don't even allow it... at any cost.

      The flip side is that if you have a special bottle that you would really like to enjoy at a great restaurant, paying the corkage is fine. Your bottle cost isn't of much concern. You might have gotten a great deal on a top-notch Bordeaux close-out. Who would know...

      17 Replies
      1. re: sebi

        I have brought in my own wine, all cositng less than they sell wine for (considering the huge bottle mark up) and the sommalier and staf were only too thrilled to have me drink it they even tasted bottles they had less experience with.

        Heck, we once brought a bottle of my Husband's Home Made beer, and they took some back to the kitchen.

        Corkage is offered to patrons so the restaurant makes some money off your consumption of wine there. Bring whatever you like.

        Nice stemware and trained staff are grea, but you can feel fine bringing your favorite plonk to any place. Any sommalier who looks down on you is NOT a good sommalier.

        In fact, anyone who feels bringing what you want to a fine restaraunt and paying corkage is worng is in bad form themselves.

        1. re: Diana

          Sorry, but you are wrong, Diana.

          Buying a cheap bottle at Trader Joe's, which is what the poster wrote, is not cool. I too bring my own wine to restaurants when it makes sense and often go to wine-friendly corkage restaurants. But buying a cheap bottle and bringing it to a nice restaurant to avoid their markup is pathetic.

          How would you like it if everyone did that and then your favorite restaurant no longer allowed corkage?

          1. re: sebi

            Sebi, we have to agree to disagree totally.

            Now, I rarely buy2 buck chuck, but I have brought wines of a lower price range to places. I have brought very expensive wines places.

            Why would any restaraunt stop allowing corkage? restaraunts amrk up wine so much, they make bundle off those who drink a glass or a bottle in house.

            It isn't Pathetic. Some top rated wines cost less than $15. they may not eb the "in" brand or varietal, but they are solidly good wines. Most sommaliers are wine lovers, and interested in good wines. Most restaraunts dedicate themselves to giving the customer a good time.

            Also, I don;t see how it is a financial loss- Say the OP DOES bring in two buck chuck. he paid $2. Providence charges $20 to open and pour it. IF the OP was mainly looking to have wine but save $, and could not bring a bottle, he would buy a good but inexpensive few glasses, and they may not make $20.
            Cheap bottle or no, whatever the cost of what the OP brings in, Providence has made $20.

            heck, they don't charge corkage on Mondays, how worried are we they'll stop over cheap bottles?
            I think you're looking at this the wrong way.

            He's already buying a tasting menu for two- thats over $200 without tax and tip he wants to bring his own wine and give his girlfriend a good time. He's not avoiding markup so much as saving a little money for himself so he can spend more on the meal. I KNOW Providence has no problem with this, I've been there a few times. They love to provide good service and a great dining experience, and like catering to their customer's needs.

            If my favorite restaraunt stopped allowing corkage because people were bringing in what they wanted, it would not be my favorite restaraunt any longer, because I'd feel their action was silly, unporfessional, and uncalled for. They're getting wine money, anyow.

            In fact, they've figured out how to get someone to pay an extrea $20-$30 to drink a wine that cost less to buy! Now who do you think is really ripping off whom?

            1. re: Diana

              Sorry Diana but again you miss my point. I like bringing my own wines to restaurants. And I do it but my reply was to the person who posted that he wanted to buy something from Trader Joe's and he mentioned being embarassed by Two Buck Chuck. So here is my my argument, please read carefully: to buy an $8 Cline Zinfandel at Trader Joe's to avoid paying restaurant prices for wine is wrong.

              And what do you know about restaurant business? The wine markups were originally put into place for a restaurant to have a chance at survival. The failure rate for most is over 50% in the first year. It is very difficult to actually make money with their overhead, small margins and staff.

              So when someone touts the idea of buying and bringing a cheap wine to avoid markups, this is like a slap in the face. Please understand, you may think that Providence has no problem with bringing in wine but I'm 100% sure that if you asked any restaurant person privately if it was cool to bring an $8 Trader Joe wine to avoid wine list markups, they would say no.

              1. re: sebi

                " to buy an $8 Cline Zinfandel at Trader Joe's to avoid paying restaurant prices for wine is wrong."

                no it isn't. he pays $8 plus the corkage. the restaurant gets the full corkage fee. THAT'S WHY THE INSTILLED A FEE IN THE FIRST PLACE. he ends up paying $28, $30, in some places more-for an $8 bottle of wine.

                Corkage is so the customer can bring their own bottle, and the dining establishment gets paid.

                Let's think bout this. Say the OP was given an expensive bottle of Chateau La Fitte Rothchilde or Chateau la Tour as a gift, and brought it to Providence, paying $20 for corkage. HE SPENT NOTHING on the bottle, but the corkage. heck, that's even cheaper than two buck chuck. Would you still object?

                If the restaraunt cared how much the original bottle cost, they wouldn't charge corkage in the first place! They don't know, and don't care how much you paid for the wine you bring in.

                Providence and otehr places didn't charge corkage for "survival" Restaraunts make money more from the food than the wine/bar. they charge corkage because they can allow the customer to bring in hi or her own wine, and still make money off of it, as the diner is not buying wine from them they do miss out on a sale. ut they let you go in and drink just water, for free, no problem.

                I have asked The sommalier at Providence, as well as the ones at Il Tiramisu, Spago, Cafe Bizou ($2, corkage, no limit!) If I could bring in beer my husband made, wine our friends made and wine from my cellar.

                NOT ONE PLACE HAD ANY PROBLEM. I just got off the phone with Providence (I asked the host and manager, the sommalier isn't in till four. he laughed and said "How absrd! Of Course we wouldn't mind you bringing in an $8 bottle from trader Joe's. Why We've had people (and this makes me giggle) bring in two bcuk chuck. we have a corkage policy, $20. bring whatever you want."

                Their number is (323) 460-4170. Call them yourself, if you don't believe me.

                1. re: Diana

                  I'm bored of this. You are wrong. Your statement that restaurants make more money off of food is also wrong. Do some research. Food markups do vary based on overhead but they will never be better than wine markups.

                  As far as calling all of these restaurants to poll this idea of bring Two Buck Chuck. Of course they will tell you that. It's their business to please the customer.

                  There will always be people like you who overreach and take advantage of a situation. And then the rest of us will suffer when you burn it out.

                  1. re: sebi

                    Sebi, what are you so angry at, or rather whom? There is validity in both arguments here. I know for a fact Providence doesn't care whether you bring in a bottle or not. If you do, they make their $20.00, great. If you don't, then odds are you are going to order some alcoholic beverage off of their menu and thus they are making money.
                    Providence is NOT like a lot of other restaurants in that they are clamoring to up-sell their patrons on top shelf liquors, beers or wines. Providence is doing just fine. In fact, I think they respect their clientele enough to offer them the 10% discount on the worst table, the no-corkage Mondays, and some flexibility in their tasting menus that they offer.
                    I do agree with you, however, that smaller restaurant operators and start-ups don't have the capital backing of a Michael Cimarusti and thus are more prone to live by the sword, die by the sword of alcohol sales, and not only that but the alcohol-to-food sales ratio.
                    I also agree with you that restaurants do make more money off of alcohol vs. food...that's correct in terms of the % of net profit to the operator, but in most instances, that's not correct in terms of the overall volume of dollars generated by alcohol vs. food.
                    Just my two cents.

                    1. re: peanut112

                      I'm just having fun with Diane.

                      But it does bother me when someone tries to avoid restaurant wine lists with a cheapie bottle. It is not a question of what one can do or what cannot do. Or whether the restaurant encourages it when asked. Or even if their policy were to specifically state "we don't care, even if you bring Two Buck Chuck."

                      To me it is more of a common decency thing. It would be like if a restaurant offered a free dessert but instead of accepting the generosity you then asked for some free 1977 Port as well.

                      1. re: sebi

                        Fair enough...a little Friday fun is good for a laugh.

                        I totally see your point of things at smaller covers, maybe more casual restaurants, and yes maybe it's a little double-edged sword of me to say, but I know Providence doesn't care, and maybe they should, maybe they shouldn't....but why should I be forced to drink their wine when I happen to have a fabulous bottle I'd like to enjoy with Michael's cuisine, or Adrian's desserts...or even if it is two-buck chuck, it's my $20.00 corkage and my $200+ dinner, so it's my privilege...not my right, but my privilege.

                        1. re: sebi

                          i fail to see the logic of why it would be better in any way for the restaurant if i showed up with an expensive bottle of wine and paid $20 corkage than if i showed up with a cheap bottle of wine and paid $20 corkage.

                          obviously, many restaurants don't feel you 'owe' them more than their corkage fee on wine served or they wouldn't have instituted that particular corkage fee.
                          if the restaurant needs more money from alchohol, they can either raise their corkage fee or raise their markup on wine, or paradoxically, they might be able to raise the volume of wine sold and possibly raise the total amount of markup gained, if they lowered their markup on wine.

                          in any case, whatever wine you bring won't make a difference in terms of restaurant survival--the corkage is the same bottle for bottle.

                          1. re: sebi

                            Suuuure you are, sebi. :)

                            Listeen to what Westside girl and I are saying. Providence is above hoding your wine against you, unlike some.

                            "But it does bother me when someone tries to avoid restaurant wine lists with a cheapie bottle."

                            What bothers me is when an honest guy wants to get a good meal for his girl, and is more into the food than wine, and wants a little good, less expensive wine (not a cheapie bottle, as any wine person knows, great things can cost very few dollars) and gets dressed down for it by someone with a wine-snob attitude.

                            Jono, bring whatever you want to Providence, you will be welcomed with the open arms and good service of a truly fine restaraunt! They will treat you right and not be "holier than thou" by holding your wine chose against your. Fear not!

                            If some other odd diners are there. and turn their noses up at you as the one above, shake your head and relaize just how silly they are.

                            II hope you and your girlfriened have the most marvelous time!

                        2. re: sebi

                          Hee hee, sebi, you didn't call, did you? go on, call. :) Call Spago, too. Call any place that has a corkage policy! I'm ot worried. They'll all tell you the same thing. Be as bored as you want.

                          Restarant make more off of food because they sell it mostly as a product. every customer buys food. Not every customer buys wine, or even an alchoholic beverage (or pays corkage).

                          "As far as calling all of these restaurants to poll this idea of bring Two Buck Chuck. Of course they will tell you that. "

                          I din't bring up the two buck chuck. I didn't metion it to providence. They mentioned it to me as an example of things customers bring in all the time.

                          "It's their business to please the customer."

                          My point exactly.

                          "There will always be people like you who overreach and take advantage of a situation."

                          Of course I take advantage of the generous offer to let me bring whatever I want for $20 corkage. They put that offer there for the customer to take advantage of.

                          "And then the rest of us will suffer when you burn it out."

                          Why ever would a place rescind a program they set up to satisfy the customer. they figured what the least they could charge for a customer to bring in whatever wine they wanted, and set that price as corkage. They make $20-pure profit, as they don't lose any wine from their own cellar.

                          remember my "OP brings in a bottle of expensive wine he got for free" scenario? remember, that bottle cost NOTHING, yet he brought it to the restaraynt. they didn't know. they don't care. they know they'll make at least $20 of whatever bottle the customer brings in, without depleting their own wine supply. That's pure $20 profit, bub.

                          1. re: sebi

                            Sebi, Sebi, Sebi... If a restaurant charges you $20 for a corkage fee, that restaurant is more than pleased to not have had to inventory the wine, think about if the customers will like it, take responsibility for over servng a customer, deal with corked wines, deal with losses that incur from having inventoried wines like breakage, theft etc... To make $20 on any wine is great. If a customer wants to bring in a bag of grape juice and pay $20 for the priviledge of drinking it in a restaurant, so be it. If the restaurant has a problem with people bringing in their own beverages, they should charge a corking fee. Oh wait, the restaurant in question already does? Case dismissed!

                  2. re: Diana

                    Diana, you are soooooooooooooooo wrong.

                    The very idea, the concept, of corkage is NOT to avoid buying wine off a wine list, but rather to permit people -- where it is legal and permitted by law (not true of all places and all countries) -- to bring in that "special," meaningful bottle for that special occassion.

                    Let's forget the idea of a blatantly cheap bottle such as 2BC ("Two Buck Chuck," aka Charles Shaw), and talk about something else: would you bring in a bottle of Pellegrino water because you don't want to pay the restaurant's high price for a bottle of sparkling water? What about bringing in your own thermos of coffee or tea to avoid paying for that?

                    The markups on both water and coffee are MUCH HIGHER than they are on wine. So, too, the markups on cocktails -- why not bring in your own Martini???

                    Now then, I frequently bring wine into restaurants -- not each and every time, but often enough that sommeliers, the waitstaff and even the chefs know that when I do, they are generally in for a taste of something special.

                    And THAT is the purpose behind "corkage" -- to pair that special wine you have been looking forward to enjoying with the cuisine of a chef that you equally enjoy.

                    To examine the SPECIFICS of the OP:

                    >>> I am not a big wine drinker; in fact I didn't drink at all for five years and now do only slightly. I'd like to enjoy some wine with this meal, but don't want to spend an arm or a leg. I'm considering bringing in a bottle from Trader Joe's and paying the $20 corkage, but I'm a little embarrassed about the thought of bringing in two buck chuck. <<<

                    He SHOULD be embarassed!

                    By his own admission, he is not much of a wine drinker. Why not buy a glass or two of wine to accompany the meal? Why buy an entire bottle, regardless of what it may be, when you won't finish it? Even if the restaurant DID open the bottle (and remember that the restaurant can always refuse to do so!), and you paid $20 corkage + $1.99 for the wine, you could get some much nicer wines for $10-12 a glass . . . or less!

                  3. re: sebi

                    Sebi, totally agree with you. As someone who takes Quality wines into restaurants regularly I can assure everyone on this board that none of them are "happy" to have to allow corkage!
                    Did anyone see the comment from Sal (Il Grano) in Zagat last Dec-Jan about his most least favorite thing? People bringing their own wine into his restaurant! He charges 35- corkage to discourage the practice, besides the 2 bt limit and there are several others with the same policies.
                    Corkage in LA has become a necessary evil over the years because of competition.
                    La Botte, Georgio Baldi, Ivy don't allow any "Outside Wine" ever!
                    Most of my friends who own Restaurants have voiced their displeasure about not making the profits that they feel are deserved considering their costs to provide a Cellar, Stemware, and Staff. Alcohol Profits are a large part of the overall Profit picture.
                    On the other hand some of the Markups on Wine Lists are ridiculous which makes it hard to want to purchase from some lists.
                    We have noticed a rise in Corkage Charges over the last couple of years. What used to be $10-15 is now $20-35 w/bottle limits.
                    Providence has been more than fair with their Wine Policy(No corkage Mondays and 20- per bottle) and deserves our support!!

                    1. re: sebi

                      Sebi

                      not to get in the middle of this but if the resto has done all that you describe, why would they allow anyone to bring in a bottle. once they open the door hard to close unless they have a"the resto reserves the right not to serve any wine which it feels would not be in line with the food." do you think many custos would feel upset about that?

                      1. re: jfood

                        I don't know how sebi would answer, but I feel a restaraunt has the right to define whatever corkage policy they wish.

                        Some allow no corkage.
                        Some allow corkage on some nights, and free corkage on others.
                        Some provide corkage for only wines not on their wine list.

                        If a place will only allow corkage on certian wines, that is their call, their policy to set.

                        But I know Providence in particular allows you to bring in pretty much any alcohol and will charge you $20 to open an pour it. Wine, Beer, probably liquor-but I'm not sure on that. They also kep it poured, darn it. Even if you bring in a bottle, you never get the chance to touch it. They open it, and are vigilant in keeping your glass full.

                        In fact, last time, I had to ask them to stop so I could walk out upright.

                    2. you've gotten some opinionated responses here already but i can understand where you're coming from. not everything from trader joe's is crap. if you're only bringing one bottle, i would go with champagne as it is the most versatile to pair with a seafood oriented multi-course meal. I know TJ carries 2003 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, a quality sparkling, for less than $30. fyi, on monday nights the corkage fee is waived.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: zack

                        Champagne is a good idea, or prosecco, too!

                        Good thinking, Zack!

                        TJ's actully carries some rather good wines at a great value.

                      2. I would say if you are only going to drink a couple of glasses, let Drew (the sommalier ) pair something for you.
                        He'll talk to chef & have a much better idea of what will be served & what will complement the food than something you might be bringing.
                        Plus he might offer you something that you would never think to order, but could be a wonderful surprise !
                        Between whatever you would buy, plus corkage, you could have a couple of really nice glasses of wine.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: alison

                          OMG, are you so stressed out about going to this restaurant now?!?

                          for the benefit of the OP having an optimal experience comfortably with few regrets, i'm with sebi, russkar, and alison on this one. i cannot articulate it any better than alison already has.

                          having drew pair for you is a wonderful way to discover something you might have never tried before. he is a good sommelier and he won't take you to the cleaners. explain your situation to the waiter or drew and they can be creative about how they address the situation. no one bottle will honor michael's food.

                          we order bottles from the wine list, order a paired tasting (my husband and i usually share a wine tasting) and bring our own wines to PROVIDENCE. of course, when we share a tasting or bring our own wines, we show our appreciation to drew and his staff by tipping as if we had ordered the bottle. it's only fair.

                          the restaurant biz in l.a. can be so much less profitable than in chicago or NYC as most drive and as a result, don't drink as much. this means fewer revenue streams for restaurants here. i don't mind paying corkage, but certainly resent a restaurant with high or no corkage with a poorly selected list or sky high mark-ups.

                          now for those who actually believe that PROVIDENCE nets $20 on corkage, well, that's just ridiculous. they pay for high quality stemware which breaks often, they pay for drew and the other staff and with other diners willing to buy from the restaurant, and a table that brings wine is less profitable table for them than a table that doesn't. this is why i am less apt to bring more of my own bottles on weekends. during the week we, at least, try to order a bottle and we tip well when we bring our own wine.

                          i'm glad donato and matthew are answering your questions appropriately, but having some industry background, sebi, russkar and alison are advising you well and you would be wise to heed their counsel.

                          think karma. and have a great time.

                        2. Not sure why you'd want to bring a bottle if you don't drink much wine. Why not order a glass or two. Since it sounds like they have a great sommelier and wine list, that way you can sample something you may not know to buy yourself. Value wise it may be better to bring the bottle, but if you're not a big drinker and don't finish it, then you gotta recork that TJ bottle, figure out where to put it in your trunk so it doesn't spill, etc and so on.

                          1. Wow. I've not seen this many "you are wrong"s on a chow board ever...

                            But to the OP: I wouldn't really bring 2 Buck Chuck to a restaurant. If you're a little embarrassed about the thought of it, then you know that it's at least a little bit awkward. If you still want to bring your own wine? Call up the restaurant and speak to their manager and/or their wine director and tell him exactly what you've posted. If they know what they are doing, and the consensus of the CHers is that they do indeed very well, Providence's response should be something along the lines of: "Sir/Madam, Please don't be embarrassed. Our customers do this all the time. However, with our corkage policy, the inexpensive wine that you'd bring, while still very good, isn't so much a bargain anymore. For what you'll spend, we can offer you something with significantly more value and would also pair with your meal much better, such as the...." Voila. Both sides win.

                            Now to the other responses...

                            -Corkage is a privilege not a right. Some restaurants in other parts of the country don't even allow it... at any cost.

                            I agree, but the restaurant in question has extended this privilege to its guests at a certain cost. If this were a restaurant did not have a corkage policy, I'm pretty sure the OP would not have posted.

                            -But buying a cheap bottle and bringing it to a nice restaurant to avoid their markup is pathetic.

                            You're not avoiding the markup. The corkage is the markup.

                            -to buy an $8 Cline Zinfandel at Trader Joe's to avoid paying restaurant prices for wine is wrong.

                            If you love Cline Zin and you really wanted it with your meal and the restaurant doesn't stock it, it is not wrong.

                            -Corkage is offered to patrons so the restaurant makes some money off your consumption of wine there. Bring whatever you like.

                            Yes, but the corkage also includes the costs and services associated with the restaurant serving you the wine. And "whatever" should not include wines that are on the restaurant's wine list. That would be very bad form.

                            -The wine markups were originally put into place for a restaurant to have a chance at survival. The failure rate for most is over 50% in the first year. It is very difficult to actually make money with their overhead, small margins and staff.

                            I dont have any idea why the failure rate for restaurants is relevant to the discussion. While wine does have one of the higher markups in a restaurant, it's far far behind that of other beverages. And the origins of the wine markup? Sorry, it's not true. The wine markups were originally put into place because....(cue the drumroll) because the restaurant can! For the same reason that they markup liquor, coffee, tea, bottled water: Because they can! And I think you have the causality backwards. Tons of great restaurants make great money with a BYOB policy.

                            -Please understand, you may think that Providence has no problem with bringing in wine but I'm 100% sure that if you asked any restaurant person privately if it was cool to bring an $8 Trader Joe wine to avoid wine list markups, they would say no.

                            Cant really speak for Providence, but if they didn't think it was okay, I would think that instead of saying privately it wasn't okay, they'd simply not offer corkage.

                            -It is not a question of what one can do or what cannot do. Or whether the restaurant encourages it when asked. Or even if their policy were to specifically state "we don't care, even if you bring Two Buck Chuck." To me it is more of a common decency thing.

                            You are absolutely right, it is a "don't abuse the privilege" thing.

                            -What bothers me is when an honest guy wants to get a good meal for his girl, and is more into the food than wine, and wants a little good, less expensive wine (not a cheapie bottle, as any wine person knows, great things can cost very few dollars) and gets dressed down for it by someone with a wine-snob attitude.
                            This is also very true. I hate pseudo-sommeliers who are snobs. Great sommeliers, OTOH, are so fantastic that you wonder how you ever lived without them. Thankfully my experiences have usually been with the latter. Let's hope Jono will get a great one too.

                            -Sebi, totally agree with you. As someone who takes Quality wines into restaurants regularly I can assure everyone on this board that none of them are "happy" to have to allow corkage!
                            Did anyone see the comment from Sal (Il Grano) in Zagat last Dec-Jan about his most least favorite thing? People bringing their own wine into his restaurant! He charges 35- corkage to discourage the practice, besides the 2 bt limit and there are several others with the same policies.
                            Corkage in LA has become a necessary evil over the years because of competition.
                            La Botte, Georgio Baldi, Ivy don't allow any "Outside Wine" ever!

                            I'm not too familiar with the LA scene, but I'm pretty sure that the competition is similar to that of NY. I don't know Sal or his restaurant, but IMO, his thinking is immensely flawed. And rest assured he's not alone. The best way to discourage diners from abusing corkage is not to raise the fee to the point where diners avoid your restaurant because they think your corkage fee is ridiculous, which $35 is. The two most common complaints diners have about restaurants they dislike usually have nothing to do with food or ambiance, as those are subject to personal taste.

                            #1 complaint: The restaurant felt snobbish. There is nothing worse in the service industry than making your guests and clients feel they are not good enough for you. A $35 corkage will do that.

                            #2 complaint: We felt ripped off because the quality of food and service is comparable to so and so, but the prices were much higher. Again, see #1. A $35 corkage will do this as well.

                            The best way to discourage diners from abusing corkage? Make sure you have a good selection of wines at or very near to the price of your corkage! The most successful restaurants, at least in New York, and I'm sure there are some examples in LA, do a great job of this. Babbo, Mario Batali's flagship, has fantastic wines under $40. Balthazar, probably the most visited French brasserie in NYC, always offers 4 good house carafe wines at 500ml under $20. Landmarc, pretty much an upscale diner, has an average markup of ~40% (guessestimate), with some as little as 20%. A half bottle of Krug Brut Grand Cuvee champagne is listed at $85; I've seen full bottles retailing in NY for $140. Check out the list for yourself.

                            http://www.landmarc-restaurant.com/be...

                            Instead of discouraging diners from bringing or drinking wine, or even worse, coming to your restaurant, these restaurants do their best to encourage their guests to try wines comfortably in their price range and gain an appreciation of how fine wine can enhance a good meal to a great one. Maybe in the future, their price range will increase and they will gladly fork over money for a bottle of Lafite (okay maybe not gladly, but at least willingly).

                            My two cents.

                            Cheers.
                            p.s. sebi, I dont mean to pick on you at all. We just disagree on a few things.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: mengathon

                              Jean George (75- corkage), Per Se (50- corkage) in fact wasn't even going to allow corkage when they opened, Il Mulino (no outside wine allowed, period), Boule (no outside wine allowed). I can think of dozens of other NYC upscale Restaurants that don't allow corkage.
                              These are only a couple of examples of NYC's corkage policy's which is not in anyway comparable to LA, which is much more reasonable and relaxed compared.

                              1. re: mengathon

                                Thanks for a well thought out and sensible answer!

                              2. You won't avoid spending an arm an a leg by paying corkage. In fact, you'll pay more for less if you get a random bottle from TJ's and add $20 to its price tag.

                                If you don't drink much, let the sommelier pick a glass or two for you instead of a bottle. The wine will suit the food, and your out-of-pocket will be comparable.

                                Diana and sebi have good points, although from diametriacally oposed perspectives. Yes, a good restaurant will open an inexpensive bottle of wine for you, and will presumably hope that you enjoy it with your meal. But a mediocre bottle of wine might distract or detract from outstanding food--the reason you are paying so much for your meal in the first place, right?--and take something away from the dining experience.

                                I wouldn't take a bottle of wine into a restaurant unless I was sure it would be better with the meal, or equally as good and significantly less expenseive, than what I could get in-house.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  agree mostly with you, alan, however, even a fantastic bottle can distract from the meal, it doesn't have to be mediocre. unfortunately, the wine culture in the US has influenced consumers to perceive wine as a stand-alone, rather than an integral part of the food.

                                  to add to russkar's points, our contract for lunch for eight at PER SE on a weekday stipulated that we could not bring any outside wine.

                                  1. re: revets2

                                    Agreed, but the guy who brings an '88 Opus One to a restaurant should be more likely to pick foods that will complement the wine than somebody who brings cheap plonk and orders a delicate fish dish.

                                    Jono37 sounds like somebody who is just looking to economize a bit on an expensive meal. Far better, IMHO, than an overprivileged philistine.

                                    BTW, if you want to buy me lunch at ANY Thomas Keller restaurant, I promise not to complain about the cost of the wine...

                                2. I think the point that seems to be so contradictory here is taking wine to save money. You go to a rest. for food you could never prepare yourself in a nice setting. To the restaurant, the wine list is the same thing, same concept, as the menu. Sure their menu has been carefully crafted to be unique, to express a certain style and to offer you dishes you can't get anywhere else. So is the wine list. To just take a dump on that concept and say "I don't know much about wine so I'll just bring some random wine off a grocery store shelf" i do find a lil offensive. If you don't know much about wine but want to enjoy some with dinner, place your trust in the group of people who have put in years of service for just such an occasion as yours. The whole concept of the restaurant makes more money on this or that is moot....any chef or sommelier or server worth their salt will want you to have the richest most flavorful experience possible and let's face it THEY may be better qualified to guide you through this than the tasting notes taped to a grocery store shelf. Certainly you can tell the sommelier or server what your budget is or do what TONS of other people who don't know much about wine or simply don't care and order the cheapest bottle on the list. WA, OR, South Africa and Argentina offer some great value on many lists and its not like they put a couple of real crappy bottles on their list, at any good restaurant ALL wines on the list have some degree of merit. Also, I hate to burst anyones bubble on markups but in EVERY restaurant, the food is marked up more than the wine and is generally second only sometimes to Liquor markups. Sure you may have just paid $115 for that bottle of Sonoma Pinot that cost the rest. $35 but that 6 ounce lamb sirloin your friend had for $30 cost the rest. $3.50 ;)

                                  1. What an interesting and impassioned firestorm I have unleashed with this post!!!! Believe me, that was not my intention!

                                    The truth is, I am a devoted foodie in some ways, but especially in the realm of home cooking; it's sort of my hobby, and I like to take on challenging fare. I'm self-taught, so I read a lot about food and know a fair amount. Still, my high-end dining (meaning, let's arbitrarily say, more than about $60-70 per person for food alone) is limited to exactly two establishments, Bastide in the Ludo Lefebvre era (outstandingly creative and flavorful the night I went), and Masa in SF (pedestrian, and sometimes embarrassing... I mean, crab louie that tasted like it came off a supermarket salad bar!!!???)

                                    In the realm of wine, however, I'm less than a novice in terms of knowledge (if not in quantity consumed!!), and just not that motivated to change that. We all get to choose our pursuits, and at least for now mine is food and not wine.

                                    So for those who suspected that I wanted to treat my girlfriend to a nice dinner (for our 2 year anniversary) without going into bankruptcy, you got it right!!! I had been thinking about bringing in maybe 15-buck chuck and paying the corkage if that were deemed acceptable. Now, after reading the responses, I do indeed have something of a complex, and probably will go with something like sharing one wine pairing or requesting a couple of glasses or a bottle on the cheaper side. I'd hate to foul up my ongoing debut into the world of expensive dining! I'll report back when it's all done. (Just don't expect one of those 5000-word chowhound blogs complete with photos to document each course and wine bottle label!!!)

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: jono37

                                      Please read this thread with great posts about the same topic:
                                      "BYOB to a resto that has a good selection"
                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/414537

                                      1. re: jono37

                                        Sharing a Wine Pairing is the best option and will match the food perfectly. Enjoy!
                                        We'll be at Providence with some friends in two weeks for our normal food fest, can't wait!

                                        1. re: jono37

                                          Amid all the swordplay, you hit on exactly why you have decided not to bring 2BuckChuck to Providence: it will not go well with the great food, and may even detract from it. That's what your dinner is all about, so enjoy it to the extent your wallet will allow. The couple glasses of well paired wines chosen by the sommelier will really take the evening to the top.

                                          Have a great evening.

                                          For the record, while I think bringing cheap wine to a great restaurant to avoid wine markup is not *quite* up there with the atrocities of Sierra Leone, it does look kind of bad. It does make you look like a bit of a dippy diner. I have Brit friends who are always bringing *magnums* of the cheapest plonk whenever we go out to dinner, and I and one other friend are always cringing a bit and making sure we tip well.

                                          The financial perspective presented on this thread isn't quite as convincing to me, as presumably cost of stemware, training the staff etc is calculated in the cost of the corkage fee.

                                          1. re: jono37

                                            jono37...might interested you to know that donato, a former manager at BASTIDE in the ludo era, is now manager and part owner of PROVIDENCE. it's likely he was one of the reasons you had a great experience. also, MASA in san francisco is hardly pedestrian. i've enjoyed many a great meal there.

                                            have a great time! buen provecho!

                                          2. alot of people's arguments for not bringing in cheap wine into a nice restaurant has nothing to do with what's allowed and what isn't allowed. There is a pre-conceived notion that if you bring in wine yourself and pay the corkage you better be bringing in good wine.

                                            But i highly doubt the restaurant cares what wine you bring, you're paying the 20$ any way you look at it. YOU might be afraid of what other people think about you or how other people look at you (if you're pretentious and self absorbed, which i am and i rarely bring a bottle less than 80$ to a restaurant cause i dont want to feel embarassed) but i just dont think the restaurant really cares.

                                            1. Yikes...those of you that are throwing around judgments such as "low class, cheap" etc. I have one question - why the hell would you care if someone wants to bring cheap wine to a restaurant? Whatever happened to live and let live? It seems the underlying tone is that those of you economically fortunate enough to not have to care about a restaurant's markup can hardly wait to tell the rest of us how depraved we are. And it's terribly boorish.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: brokergal

                                                Well I guess we agree to disagree. I do not care if someone brings a bottle of 2BC to a nice restaurant in the sense of I am going to lose sleep over it, but I do feel that it is inappropriate. I can't afford expensive wines and I am not so economically fortunate that I don't have to budget myself either in the food or wine categories - but nevertheless, I feel it is low class to bring a really cheap bottle of wine to a nice restaurant that has a decent wine list. As for us boorish folks not being able to wait to tell the rest of the world how depraved they are, well, I can see there are plenty of people who jumped right into this thread with all sorts of opinions. And that's what they are, opinions.

                                                1. re: monkuboy

                                                  like i said, people just don't want to be embarassed and don't want people thinking they are low class.

                                                  i say people can do whatever they want to do, you go eat for the food not the wine anyways!

                                                  1. re: clayfu

                                                    Actually I agree with you.. if you don't feel funny bringing it and the restaurant doesn't mind and charges you a corkage, then who cares what anyone thinks. I put in my two cents about how I feel on the subject but why should they care what I think? Let's enjoy the food - Lol, that's why we're all reading CH anyways..

                                                    1. re: monkuboy

                                                      yeah.
                                                      i mean if i was paying 50$ a dish i personally wouldn't drink a 10$ wine with it, seems like a waste of a dish or experience.

                                                2. re: brokergal

                                                  It's ridiculous to imply that those who seek out fine food and wine are economically fortunate. While friends have chosen to spend money on cars, sports, recreational vehicles, etc. I, and I assume many other hounders who make modest salaries, choose to pursue fine foods and/or wine. It is inconceivable to many of my friends that you could ever spend $400 or more on dinner for two, but if you want to eat at The Laundry or Charlie Trotters or Tallivent that's the reality of it. Upon my first visit to FL our meal was well over two weeks salary for me. We had two half bottles of white (A burgundy and a Sancerre) and a tremendous half bottle of Napa Cab. I could not imagine special occasion dining with any worry attatched to saving money, I would rather eat ramen for a week afterwards than restrain myself at such places. Also, "why the hell would you care if someone wants to bring cheap wine to a restaurant? Whatever happened to live and let live?" Isn't the answer to this question the point of this thread????Maybe hound and let hound????;)

                                                3. jono37,

                                                  Has anyone got to the meat of your question?

                                                  Irrespective of your theoretical right to bring cheap wine to a nice restaurant, if it makes you feel embarrassed just thinking about it, then definitely don't do it - what, are you going to grow a pair of brass balls between now & then?

                                                  If you can find a wine you love for a modest price somewhere else, then bring it & do not be ashamed. All good wine shops will do this for you. At Traders, you'd have to do your own research...but they have options. TwoBuck chuck is probably not that wine, though & you'll be doing yourself a disservice to save less than $30. Is that worth it?

                                                  I don't know how Providence got into the mix here since your post doesn't mention specifically, but if you're eating at a place where you pay top dollar for top food, then suck it up & go for some of the wine they offer too - they put a lot of thought into it there. Just tell the sommlier straight up that you are looking for something "modest" & feel free to balk at something too pricey...it is his job to suit you.

                                                  Going by the glass, or even better, half bottle would probably be a good option for you. The choices that way are more limited to begin with...which helps. & btw, if you go for the tasting menu, Providence will happily split a wine course for you & your date - you each get half glasses.

                                                  If all this still daunts you, why go to a top-of-the-line restaurant & worry about the cost of the wine? Relax. There are plenty of places with great food/great ambiance at less luxe prices where you get a fantastic meal & good wine without the money worry.

                                                  Remember - enjoy yourself no matter what. Works for me.

                                                  -E

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: evans

                                                    I live in Los Angeles and bring wine to dinner on most occasions. My rule if thumb: it should never be on their list. It should be from my locker ( i do not have a cellar ) a wine that I know that my dining guests would like and better yet, one that I would like for them to try. I would typically offer the wine waiter a taste and if there is a group of us it is always nice to order one from their list as well.. to the OP just order a glass if your not a big drinker.. corkage pays the establishment for the breakage. I usually bring Bordeaux and always ask for it to be decanted and I love the finer stemware that they will produce as well.. Not the normal clunkers. A small tip in the hand of the wine waiter is a nice gesture as well.. Just my thoughts..

                                                    1. re: evans

                                                      >>>Just tell the sommlier straight up that you are looking for something "modest" & feel free to balk at something too pricey...it is his job to suit you.

                                                      I have done something like this before at an expensive restaurant (Melisse) and the result was not a happy one for me - I ended up with a $80 Bordeaux that I didn't particularly like (the sommelier recommended a $130 Chateauneuf du Pape).

                                                      I am much happier with the wine when I bring it. This is mostly why I bring wine and pay corkage. I don't have to stress over the wine list and ask for a recommendation and get one for a bottle well over $100, thereby making my dinner receipt for 2 up in the $400 range (I cannot do this all the time, naturally).

                                                    2. This whole discussion made me think about one thing:

                                                      House Wines.

                                                      Sometimes, house wines are pretty inexpensive bottles, but drinkable (maybe) If Providence had a cheap house wine, and the OP decided to only match the house Red and House White with his dinner, would the same people looking down on him for wanting to bring an affordable bottle for corkage still be judging him the same way.

                                                      Is he somehow "less" of a chowhound or wine drinker for choosing a good wine with price in mind?

                                                      remember, some really fine wines are to be had for an affordable price, in the restaurant or from a store.

                                                      17 Replies
                                                      1. re: Diana

                                                        Don't think house wines . . . think wines by-the-glass.

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          yeah, two different things.
                                                          WInes by the glass can be from bottles in the cellar.
                                                          By "house wine" I mean a particular red or white either contract made for the restaraunt, labeled for it, or just a less expensive wine the proprietor buys in bulk.

                                                          1. re: Diana

                                                            Yes, Diana, I understand that -- but what I'm referring to is the fact that (9 times out of 10) the wines offerred by-the-glass will be superior to that offerred as a house wine.

                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                              yes *sigh* But would we look down on someone who ordered house wine, as people are doing with someone who brings in an afforadble bottle for corkage?

                                                              Wine is more subjective than people let on. A nice house wine can go very well with the restaraunt's food.

                                                              What amazes me is how livid some people on herre have gotten over the idea of a wine that costs less than $15 a bottle. I have found perfectly fabulous wines from all over for around $8-$12.

                                                              Price is more a factor of :

                                                              Faddish varietals -remember how pinot shot up after "sideways"? Or the barolo craze of a few years ago?

                                                              Faddish vineyards- Some makers charge more, cause they can.

                                                              Grape availability. You get a glut of grapes, prices drop in ccertain varietals. An overflowing market can mean great wines from TJ's, Whole Foods, Cost Plus, even the 99 cent store

                                                              Restaurant mark up-some places jack the prices higher than they need to.

                                                              Ratings from magazines and "wine experts" It never fails, the top wine from Wine spectator suddenly shots up. Go into any respected wine store and talk to the guys in there, even they will tell you to use those systems as very loose guidelines rather than rules of thumb. Some wine afficionados deliberately don't buy wines that make lists.

                                                              One of the best bottles I've had recently came from a small Hungarian winers, and cost$12. Why? not "popular" in varietal, vineyard, or maker. NEver rated "Officially". It was WONDERFUL. And yes, I took it somewhere and paid corkage (I forget where). The sommalier was so interested, he took a sip.

                                                              I think the snooty wine attitudes need to be dropped a bit.

                                                              1. re: Diana

                                                                Diana,

                                                                I don't think anyone here is livid over the idea of a bottle that's less than $15. In my little wine collection, at least 1/3 are less than $15. There's no greater joy than discovering a good wine that offers even better value. What some are at arms about is not inexpensive bottle itself, but the idea of bringing in a super inexpensive bottle to a fine restaurant for the sole purpose of avoiding the markups on the wines. While I feel less strongly than some other CHers, I certainly agree that bringing 2BC for this reason is in bad form.

                                                                As for the snooty wine attitudes. Yes, I encounter it at stores, restaurants, wine bars all the time, when I feel like the salesman/waitress/bartender talks to me as if I didn't know the first thing about wine. The inexperienced and poorly trained ones push the expensive and the well rated stuff on me without taking into account what I'm planning to eat or my own preferences. But in the few months that I've been reading/contributing to the wine board, I have found none of this attitude. Stick around, I think you'll enjoy it.

                                                                1. re: mengathon

                                                                  I just think that if the OP's original aim was to take his gilr out for a great and expensive tasting menu at Providence, and he wanted to save a little cash by bringing a less expensive wine, he should not encounter such attitude anywhere, even here.

                                                                  It would help if the moderators had a link to the original post this was split off from, whcih was on the LA board. Here it is http://www.chowhound.com/topics/415942

                                                                  The wine question was really secondary, and I think he wasn't serious about two buck chuck, he just threw it in as an example of a TJ's wine.

                                                                  Providence's tasting menu per person, will run at least$100, without wine, and the higher tasting menus can be about $200 per person-again without wine. He isn't going to be cheap by a long shot. He wants to save a little somewhere!

                                                                  Then again, I don't know how much he anticipates his dinner after all the attitude on here he got for wanting to perhaps use the Restaurant's own generous and nonjudementalcorkage policy to bring an affordable bottle of wine.

                                                                  1. re: mengathon

                                                                    Mengathon, I totally agree with you.

                                                                  2. re: Diana

                                                                    House wines are really becoming a thing of the past, I think. When people ask for a "house" wine at our place we just pour them one of our least expensive glass pours. I don't think anyone who cares enough to order a botlle would simply ask for a house red or white, The whole thing sounds so 80"s.
                                                                    As for the sommelier taking a sip of your Hungarian, did you happen to catch the look on his face when he did?I've had a few of these hungarian wines, inexpensive, yes, but nothing to write home about. Most wines are submitted for review and I think anyone who has followed wine long enough knows that the best wines out there are what YOU like to drink. But while there may be some very quaffable wines in the under $15 category and admittedly some definite crap in the over$20 category, you simply, more often than not get what you pay for. No restaurant worth going to will intentionally put a dog on as their house wine just to make a buck, more than likely they've sought out something with their guests in mind that will also pair well with their food. Their are also myriad factors that affect wine prices from the winery, most important is the price of that varietal per ton from that year, as well as how a restauarnt prices its wine, most importantly its rent district and its states or regions minimum wage.

                                                                    1. re: Big Cicada

                                                                      I looked at his face, and watched him take the bottle to write down the name and varietal. The bottle was reccomended to me by one of my trusted wine merchants. It was truly very nice. I know most hungarian wines are not too wonderful. This truly was a good bottle of wine.

                                                                      I agree that the best wine is what the individual likes. Taste is subjective, and I know some of my favorite varietals are not "in" right now. But love em.

                                                                      If he could, I would of course tell him to do the pairings. I never do because of a few reasons.

                                                                      1. I only drink alcohol once a week or so. This is connected to the next two reasons

                                                                      2. I really like the wines I have taken the trouble to get for my cellar

                                                                      3. I weigh about 100 lbs. It doesn't take much for me. The typical tasting menu with wines puts me under.

                                                                      But the OP should do what he wants, if its allowed.

                                                                      After all this, lordy know what he'll end up doing.

                                                                      Frankly I also liked the idea of getting Drew, the Providence sommalier to pour not a full pairing, but one or two gflasses of what he thinks would match. I have done that, too, and Drew is spot on!

                                                                      Not all places are as good or accomodating.

                                                                      1. re: Big Cicada

                                                                        1980s, <$5/glass="house wine"
                                                                        21st Century, >$10/glass="private label"

                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                          And wines which are $10-12 per glass are still much higher in quality than 2BC (as well as many other low-end wines) -- and as been pointed out already: a) the OP admits to not being much of a drinker, and b) $22 for a bottle of 2BC vs. $10 for a much higher quality wine by-the-glass . . . I'd rather get two glasses!

                                                                      2. re: Diana

                                                                        >>> yes *sigh* But would we look down on someone who ordered house wine, as people are doing with someone who brings in an afforadble bottle for corkage? <<<

                                                                        No, not at all. There is a HUGE difference between the house wine at Shakey's Pizza Parlour and at a restaurant such as the one the OP was going to. The house wine at Shakey's is gawd-awful. (SO is the food, but that's a different story.) OTOH, if Providence is half the restaurant it should be, a lot of care and thought goes into the selection of their house wine(s).

                                                                        When I was selling wine to various restaurants, and the topic of "house wine" arose, every single "serious" restaurant was willing to pay more for a good quality house wine -- it's not that cost isn't important, but rather than looking at 3-10¢ per ounce as the determining factor (or looking at what was available in 18-liter boxes), they were more that willing to pay for decent wines. Indeed, more than one restaurant has selected wines from wineries such as Au Bon Climat (as but one example) to be bottled specifically for them as a house wine . . .

                                                                        * * * * *

                                                                        This has NOTHING to do with "snooty" attitudes, Diana, and everything to do with drinking good wines. Which is better? A bottle of 2BC or a glass of (e.g.) Au Bon Climat Chardonnay (the restaurant's house wine)?

                                                                        My suggestion is for the OP to forget the 2BC and get wines by-the-glass. That's not "snooty," it's a quality issue.

                                                                        * * * * *

                                                                        As for myself, Diana, I readily admit to having a cellar of some 50 cases or so. At least 25% are bottles that cost me under $15; another 25% (mostly composed of Champagnes and Vintage Porto, though there are some Rhones in there as well) cost me over $40. That leaves fully one-half of my cellar that cost, at full retail, between $15-40.

                                                                        As I say, Diana, this isn't about being "snooty." After 35 years in the wine trade, I simply do not understand wines that cost $$$ . . . they don't make sense to me. There are too many not good, but truly GREAT wines, that sell between $10 and $40 for me to spend more than that of a bottle.

                                                                        The exceptions, to my palate, are Champagne and Vintage Porto where, sadly, I do have to spend more than I'd like to in order to find the wines that I love.

                                                                        Jason

                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                          The OP mentioned bringing 2BC - doing that and paying $20 corkage would result in paying $22 for a bottle of 2BC. Why do that when you can buy more decent wines by the glass for less, or buy the house wine probably for less also, and these would all be better than 2BC? Yes wine can be very expensive and I don't blame anyone for balking at high prices, but bringing in a cheapo wine like that to a very nice place is not the way to deal with that. I agree with you, Jason.

                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                            "As I say, Diana, this isn't about being "snooty." After 35 years in the wine trade, I simply do not understand wines that cost $$$ . . . they don't make sense to me. There are too many not good, but truly GREAT wines, that sell between $10 and $40 for me to spend more than that of a bottle."

                                                                            I agree!

                                                                            I'm peripherally involved in the dsitribution of alcohol due to my connection with the Maltose Falcons and the homebrew and commercial beer Judging and life my husband is wrapped in. In other words, I know guys who work for local disrtibutors, and people who own wineris, breweries, contract fermenters and so on, Its amazing how much its all connected.

                                                                            Anyhow, I'm not a professional, but a big fan who somehow fell into good contacts. I don't have 50 cases of wine, but a good cellar, nonetheless.

                                                                            Still, does that make me any better a jusge of what an individual person likes and values in his or her wine, or give me the ability to pass judgement.

                                                                            Nossir.

                                                                            I spend a little extra on good port, and an abominable price for a bottle of Sam Adam's Utopias (great beer, more like a sipping brandy or port).

                                                                            But then I keep that bottle for as long as I am able. Fortunately with both, you can properly use a vacu-seal cork and keep it around a bit.

                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                              how dare you insult shakey's all you can eat lunch buffet

                                                                              1. re: clayfu

                                                                                Yeah, I knew when i said it that I was on shakey ground.

                                                                              2. re: zin1953

                                                                                No brainer. Give me the ABC in a heartbeat, and pour the 2BC in the flowers! I've gladly paid 20x the price, for a glass of good wine, to match my course. It's about the satisfaction at the end of that course - not about saving a $, or two.

                                                                                As you pointed out, my "house white," is a US$22/btl. retail wine. Not for any snob appeal, but because it drinks well and goes with a very broad spectrum of food. My "house red," is half-again as expensive, for the same reasons. It's about the quality of the total experience. Personally, I'd rather not drive the Mercedes for a week, than to have a great meal, without a great wine.

                                                                                Priorities, priorities,
                                                                                Hunt

                                                                    2. Now that 2BC's 2005 chardonnay scored 98 points and won a double gold award from the California State Fair Commercial Wine competition (voted best chardonnay in California), I guess we need to rethink our answers, lol. People will now be carrying bottles of it into restaurants with the labels facing out in a new wave of reverse snobbery.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: monkuboy

                                                                        :)

                                                                        It's like the Rappers and twits on MTV Cribs who open their fridge to show a bag of old McDonald's Fries, and 5 bottles of Crytal Champagne. Do they have the Champagne for any other reason than "bling-bling cred"?

                                                                      2. The owner of one of my favorite places said he would waive corkage on my birthday this month.

                                                                        So am I allowed to take whatever I want, or do I have to agonize over if it will insult someone?

                                                                        I want to take a bottle of Daume sangio, made by my friend, who owns the Daume Winery and the "Camarillo Custom Crush". I did pay for it, it cost me around $15 with my "Maltose Falcon" discount. I also want to bring the Chateau Riussec I have stored to go with dessrt. (That should confuse em!)

                                                                        Tell me gang, will men turn red with rage and ladies swoon over my basphemy? Or will the Riussec buy me brownie points as someone worthy of wineage?

                                                                        Remember, he's waiving corkage for my birthday-although normally it's $5 a bottle.

                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Diana

                                                                          its your birthday you can do whatever you feel like. To be honest i think many restaurants if they know its your bday they'll waive the corkage fee. (at least a few i've gone to in So.cal).

                                                                          In this day and age there are so many "no name" wines that cost 40+ that no one knows how much a wine costs unless its a pretty prevalant supermarket brand.

                                                                          1. re: Diana

                                                                            When I first read this post, I was thinking not of what other diners would think about bringing in a really cheap bottle of wine (although I'm sure 2BC would raise a few eyebrows unless you were Jack Nicholson, Paris Hilton, Jack Inthebox, etc., lol), but that it seemed like a low class thing to do with resepct to the restaurant, if it were being done primarily to try and avoid the expense of a marked-up wine list. The fact that a bottle of 2BC would then become 22BC after the corkage made it even worse. People have the right to bring whatever they please if the restaurant has a corkage policy but I feel some motives are better than others. For Diana in the above post for her birthday, there's certainly nothing wrong with what she's doing - and I'm sure the restaurant is just cementing a loyal relationship by offering the free corkage. But if she kept bringing in 2BC or something similar as a way to shave a few bucks off the cost of having wine, well, that just doesn't seem like a good thing to do.

                                                                            1. re: monkuboy

                                                                              To be honest, I don't even like 2BC! it isn't the price, I just don't find it all that good. :) If I heard of a wine for the same price that was possibly along my tatses, I would have it. I have found very good wines at Big Lt's and Costco for amazing prices, and bought them.

                                                                              My original point was that the OP (who was probably joking about 2BC, or maybe not) should be able to bring what he wants if the establishment has the policy to allow him to do so.

                                                                              Often, we tend to bring a good bottle of my husband's beer, which he makes eiher at home or on the club's system. this is not just average beer, mind you (his purple forbidden rice brew? His Mead? His price winning IPA's, wits, ales, session beers, porters, stouts?) and we pay corkage to open it. But price wise, once you buy the brewing equipment,, it costs around $25 for ingredients, and a batch is 5 gallons-a few cases. Meaning the per bottle price is obscenely low. And yes, when we tae it somewhere, he bottles it in a magnum or a wine sized bottle, so we can both drink for one corkage.

                                                                              We always offer the sommalier, chef and anyone else a taste, of course. Often, the beer meets more of the staff than we do.

                                                                              My point is, though, that we bring in a fine, rare and tasty beverage the likes I KNOW the restaraunt has never seen and pay corkage. But the bottle of beer itself cost practically nothing and was fun to make. I know home wine makers who do the same thing.

                                                                              For my birthday, I want to bring a few wines I've saved (mmmm Rieussec! I love dessert or fortified wines, or gwurtz, or reisling, or.....) One bottle was inexpensive, one wasn't really.

                                                                              But if I caught any patron or staff looking down on me for my wine choice, I'd get angry!

                                                                            2. re: Diana

                                                                              Diana,

                                                                              These are "special" wines to you. I doubt that the restaurant will have the Daume Sangio on their list, and probably not the Riussec. It's the "special" aspect, that will score you points.

                                                                              One of the last wines, that I brought to a restaurant was a Taylor '48 for my wife's 50th birthday. We managed to get 18 (Port) pours from that bottle - including one for the owner, the chef, the owner's father, and the sommelier. No corkage and the chef even reprised some of his long gone specials, just for the evening. The closest that that restaurant could come was a '63 Taylor. Actually, my experiences with the '63, put it above the vaunted '48, but it was my wife's birth year, so it scored bonus points.

                                                                              Bring what is special to you, and, as you have done, call ahead of time. I doubt that they'll bother with a corkage for you.

                                                                              Hunt

                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                How was they Taylor's?

                                                                                I had a Tawy port from 75 that was Amazing..not taylor's..uurrgh, what was it?

                                                                                For my 30th, I added to my wine list out a bottle of La Fortes De LaTour 75 (guess when I was born), it was faboo. I'm prettynsure he waived corkage on that one.

                                                                                Of course, I gave tastes, and will give tastes, or all special wins to the sommalier, and chef/owner or chef. It is a question of good manners for me.

                                                                                1. re: Diana

                                                                                  1975 was an odd year for Vintage Porto -- it came right after the 1974 Socialist revolution in Portugal, and many companies were afriad of being nationalized. Thus, most Houses declared what is, over all, a very weak and marginal vintage -- the worst for Vintage Porto, IMHO, since at least World War II.

                                                                                  1. re: Diana

                                                                                    Diana, you keep calling it a Tawny -- was it indeed a vintge-dated Tawny Porto (i.e.: 1975 Colheita), or was it indeed a 1975 ***Vintage*** Porto. Two different things completely.

                                                                                    I've had many 1975 Vintage Portos from various houses and found the best of them to be "quite good," but never outstanding. This doesn't mean they are BAD, nor does it mean that no one can enjoy them more than I did . . .

                                                                                    Tawnies are a completely different matter.

                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                      I wondered the same thing. Also, I have to admit that I have never had a "bad," VP, just many, that were better than the others. Even the '55, that I allude to, in the followup to Diana, was OK, just totally different, because of its problem - still better than 75% of the ports & Ports, that I have tasted. I'm still hoping to find that one, in good condition and at a fair price.

                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        1975 was just a *weird* exception to every rule. Under "normal" conditions, it *probably* would never have been widely declared, but some single quinta VP would have been produced. As it was, fear of being nationalized and the idea of "getting it while you can" led to a much wider declaration than would have otherwise taken place.

                                                                                        I've never had what I would call a "great" Vintage Porto from 1975, and many were mediocre at best, but some rose to the level of "very good."

                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                          Yes, the declaration of a Vintage, can be a touchy subject. The '94-'95 vintages point that out well. Ninety-four was declared, almost across the board. It was hailed by some, to be the "vintage of the century." Whoa, then along comes the '95 and it was very good too. What to do? Declare back-to-back Vintages? Blend the '95s into some killer branded Rubies? Many houses said the heck with it, and declared. Others did the Single Quinta route. That turned out to be a great deal for the consumers, as most SQ Vintages are much less expensive, than their more revered siblings.

                                                                                          I'd hate to have to make the decisions, as one must consult closely with their exporters, their accountants, and the wine press to see if it's "too soon," even when you have great wine, or wonder if the world, as you know it, is likely to change with stroke of a pen - or point of a bayonet.

                                                                                          I'm digging from any TNs, that I have on '75s, and cannot seem to find them. Maybe on some old backup tapes. I do not have any '75s in the cellar now, as the jump seems to be '63 - '70 to '77.

                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                                            I suppose mine was "very good"-I certainly thought so. I was lucky, I guess.

                                                                                            Thank goodness, it would have been a shame to get awful port on my birthday!

                                                                                    2. re: Diana

                                                                                      The '48 is #3 on my all-time favorite Port list. I had expected it to be #1, and considering the crowd and the event, it had everything going for it. However, the '63 and '70 actually surpassed it. Nothing wrong with it, it was just a tad down the list. Of the recent vintages, the only one that I have not had (from Taylor, or Fonseca) is the '55. OK, I had it in London, but the cork had leaked and the wine was oxidized. It was more like a Tawny/Madeiria, than a VP - not a fair test, so I still have not had that one. Now, if only some kind soul would offer me some of the Quinta de Noval Nacional from the '30s!

                                                                                      Luckily, I had picked up the '48 for about US$100, because it was my wife's birth year (don't tell anyone, because they can do the math), and when I was looking at picking up another bottle (the guest list kept growing), the best that I could find was US$1800/btl.

                                                                                      I'd probably not spend $1800+ on this one, though it WAS good. I'm glad that I had it, had made the purchase, when I did, and that I got to share it with my wife, and our great friends. Really a wonderful wine.

                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                2. The only wines that I will even consider bringing to a restaurant, are ones that they do not have, and I do. I will gladly pay a corkage (though have never been charged one), and offer a glass to the sommelier, the chef, and the server. These have all been special bottles, with some age, and usually a lot of "cult value." I've also always called ahead, just to make sure. Ninety-nine % of the time, I order from the list.

                                                                                  If it's about the cost, talk to the staff and express your desires for a wine that is inexpensive and will match with the meal/courses.

                                                                                  However, I am a certified wino, so things are greatly different for me.

                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                  1. One of my favorite local restaurants has no corking fee.

                                                                                    It's a seafood restaurant. The fish is fresh, the food is good, the atmosphere and service are acceptable, but is rarely mentioned in our South boards as a "must go" on Chowhound (I often wonder if this isn't just from snobbishness and a fondness for chic new cuisine overcomplicated dishes, but eh)

                                                                                    We eat here more than twice as often as we might otherwise because there is no corkage fee. I take special wines I've been saving, I take amazing values I got at the local wine store, we take a whole range of stuff.

                                                                                    We always offer to share our bottle with our server and the manager. I confess that until reading this thread I hadn't thought to particularly offer to share with the chef (here), though that might be that this is a mid-range place to eat where the chef doesn't seem to be pushed forward. The manager has commented a couple of times that he looks forward to seeing what we bring in next.

                                                                                    Their own wine list is acceptable and caters to popular tastes, which does not typically coincide with our own, i.e., heavy on oaked chardonnays, Mosel rieslings, merlot, blah blah blah, etc. (I note in passing that the sudden popularity of Barolo a few years back as mentioned above pained me greatly, similar to when I used to collect unicorns before they were "popular).

                                                                                    The lack of a corkage fee is greatly appreciated by us. I compensate our waitstaff by adding extra to the tip, so they don't suffer for our lack of direct purchase.

                                                                                    I definitely agree with the person who said that as long as the wine is a reasonable pairing with the food you're in decent shape. Focusing on the price (whether cheap or expensive) misses the point.

                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: fussycouple

                                                                                      I think that your post points out how well BYOW can work, plus a great relationship with a restaurant. Yours is also a good case for bringing your own wine - you know the list, you know the cuisine, and can pair better than someone locked into the convention of having to offer what sells to the client base. BTW, what/where is this restaurant? Reason for my inquirey, is that we travel throughout the South, and wines lists can be a real problem.

                                                                                      I am far more likely to bring my wineglasses, than to bring wine, to a restaurant. On the occasions, that I have done so, it's because it was a "special" bottle, and in each case, I knew the restaurant and the restauranteur, or the sommelier.

                                                                                      There have been a few times, that I *wished* I'd brought my wine, like the Plantation Gardens in Poipu, Kaua`i. I saw their list online, thought about it, and decided to go with their list, especially as I did not know what was likely to be available at retail there, and did not want to ship my wine, plus my golf clubs to Hawai`i. It turned out to be a mistake, as the few selections (from the online list), that I thought I could live with were all sold out. Wasn't too much of a problem, as we did great wines at all other meals over 18 days - just one meal, that could have been better.

                                                                                      My general observations are that most folk posting about BYOW are trying to save $, and seldom consider the pairing aspects. You are an exception. Maybe I just missed the food-wine oriented posts over the years. Were I a restauranteur with a heavy investment in my wine program to offer diners a great experience, I'd have a high corkage fee to stem the flow of Yellowtail, making exceptions for that older Montrachet, Chablis, or 1er Cru Bdx. If I was subject to the whims of just what the majority of diners were familiar with, and could not sell the "good stuff," I'd probably waive the corkage, as your cited restaurant does, rather than have a list of "top-sellers." I would not be happy with this last scenario, though.

                                                                                      One local restaurant has a very liberal BYOW policy (don't quite know how they get around some of AZ's strange laws), and even store glassware for good patrons, for use with their wines - nice touch!

                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        Bill, from my limited time on the board I already see that you are one of the guys who "gets it". Agree totally with your views on BYOB, glasses, etc. Just wanted to chime in on the Hawaii thing. Very few people know that in the state of Hawaii patrons are not allowed to bring wine to a restaurant... and restaurants are paranoid about it. Perhaps if you know someone they will make an exception, but people making a trip to Hawaii shouldn't plan on the BYOB thing there. If you bring wines from the cellar they'll have to be enjoyed sitting around the pool. Ah, I can remember sitting at the pool drinking a nice Lafon Meursault (plastic cups, but what the heck). Makes me want to book a flight right now. Hawaii rules!!

                                                                                        1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                          Wine Travel,
                                                                                          The only Island that has I know of that has a No Corkage Allowed Wine Policy is Maui, we take wine to restaurants all the time in Oahu, Kauai, Kona where there is generally a Corkage Charge of $10 to 25-.

                                                                                          1. re: russkar

                                                                                            Actually youre right... it did come up when I was in Maui and was told it was a statewide thing. Thanks for clearing that up.

                                                                                          2. re: WineTravel

                                                                                            Thanks for the info. I know quite a few, who ship to the Islands, just for BYOW, oh, and to have a few cases in the room/condo. To me, it's far too much effort. Every island that I have been on, and that's all that haoles can go to, but Molo`kai, I've found good wine shops, and also Costco is building and expanding in Hawai`i.

                                                                                            Did not know about the BYOW laws, but in AZ, we have some pretty stiff ones, and it does take an "inside track," to get around them.

                                                                                            To date, only the Plantation Gardens on Kaua`i, has been the only one, that I really missed MY wine, and, I seemed to have hit them when they were out of the better wines - across the list.

                                                                                            E-e-e-w, "plastic cups!" Having been a lifeguard in a previous life, I understand. Heck, I even have several sets of thin plastic wine glasses for MY pool, plus Margarita, Martini and a few other shapes. They are OK, and I usually choose the wine to match the stemware.

                                                                                            Russkar,

                                                                                            Thanks for the update. Looks like we're going to add Maui to our next trip (first time in 8 years), so I will keep that in mind. However, about all the spots, that we used to dine at, had good wine lists. OTOH, Mr Wine, if they are still in Lahiana Town, had an interesting and ecclectic selection, at fair (for Paradise) prices. Still, I have no inclination to bring my own.

                                                                                            I feel the same about O`ahu. All the spots we go to have fine wine lists, and the sommeliers work really hard to offer good pairings. That makes things easy for me. Besides, I think that I'd have to let my older Bdx and Burgs "rest" after the trip, far too long to really enjoy them.

                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                            1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                              I've brought my own wine into restaurants on both Maui and Kauai (most recently 2006 and April of this year, respectively) with no issues at all. And it didn't matter if the place was low-, medium- or high-end.

                                                                                              1. re: brokergal

                                                                                                In Maui it is against the LAW. I checked and State Law Prohibits any Wines being brought in from patrons.

                                                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                              Chapel Hill, and the restaurant is the local seafood restaurant, Squids. To my mind, their fresh simpler stuff is their best. While you're here, check out Jay Murray, the wine manager at A Southern Season, he's a real find in "wine guys".

                                                                                              1. re: fussycouple

                                                                                                Thanks,

                                                                                                Have not been to CH in too many years, but will mark Squids, as a must try, on our next trip, which seems will happen in Oct.

                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                          3. Getting back to the post - bring the 2BC - cognecenti will recognize your good taste if you bring the 2BC Chardonnay which just won double gold at the California State fair(beating out wines priced over $50.00) - The Restaurant makes their corkage fee if you bring Opus or 2BC - enjoy your beverage with your meal!

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: drobbia

                                                                                              just saw the ABC segment where they featured this. the producers brought in caroline styne, wine director and partner of LUCQUES & AOC. she rated the 2BC last. no doubt 2BC has some hefty QPR and i don't knock it.

                                                                                              also of note, both turning leaf and forest glen also won double golds in the white zin category!

                                                                                            2. OUTSTANDING!!! In the end, my girlfriend and I both ordered the 9 course tasting menu, she went with the wine pairings, and I requested two glasses to cover the entire meal to be chosen by the sommelier. The wine was good, but being very much a non-expert, I did not even recognize the names of the varietals which were dutifully reported to us and to me the wine was not the highlight.

                                                                                              The food, however, was all conceived and executed at an extremely high level of sophistication and creativity. I literally have never eaten fish like that served that night; the textures were not flaky like most fish, but absolutely moist and tender and packed with flavor. I did not ask, but I am guessing that at least some of the fish is prepared sous-vide, because I don't know how else it would turn out so melt-in-the-mouth tender. One additional touch which I loved and would love to know how to do at home were translucent disks of yellow beet, again with an incredibly soft texture and strong, delicious flavor. I really don't know how this was done; I can only guess that they pureed cooked beets, strained the liquid, then added gelatin and cooled it into thin sheets, which were then cut into disks. Truly incredible!!

                                                                                              It was indeed an expensive night, but well worth it. I'd go back again, perhaps after some time goes by so that the selections on the tasting menu change.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: jono37

                                                                                                Glad you had an awesome meal! Your description makes me want to go there!

                                                                                              2. it's okay for you to BYO from anywhere, but to get your money's worth and to get the most enjoyment, go spend a few more bucks at your local wine store and bring something in the $10+ range that will be a much better wine than Charles Shaw. Otherwise, you might as well just buy the least expensive bottle on the wine list, or buy by the glass.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: olivethegreat

                                                                                                  Wise thoughts, but I'd go to the extreme and suggest bringing something to "top" the higher-end wines on the list, or equal them. If you are going to pay a US$20 premium, may as well get the best from it. But then, I only BYOW in cases when I have rare, or very special wines, in the first place. If saving a $ is the only criterion, then your advice is better.

                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                2. As the original poster on this board, I wish to reopen the discussion. As a casual wine drinker but a passionate foodie I find myself frustrated when dining in nice restaurants. When I open the wine menu I encounter bottles that are almost all far, far more expensive than I would ever purchase for myself. When I ask for a suggestion from the waiter or sommelier I am inevitably steered to an $85 or $95 bottle, thus forced to feel small when I express interest in a $30-40 bottle. I know that many of the expensive wines may be great, but my interest level in wine just does not support that cost. I'm tempted just to give up drinking wine in restaurants altogether just to avoid the issue, although this will surely invite even more resentment by the waiter/ownership who expect the liquor tab to generate profit.
                                                                                                  What's a food lover on a limited budget with only minor wine enthusiasm to do??!!

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: jono37

                                                                                                    Sheesh. Glad I missed the original maelstrom on this topic. In response to your (amended) question: "What's a food lover on a limited budget with only minor wine enthusiasm to do?"
                                                                                                    (1) seek out restaurants with reasonably priced wine lists. Depending on where you are, this is getting harder to do, but they're often still out there (and maybe after trying some more, you'll become more of an enthusiast!)
                                                                                                    (2) don't give the waiter/sommelier a blank check. Tell him what you want to spend. If you're in a circumstance where you don't want to announce a price to the world at large (or your date), you can do the "I was looking for something like this" (and point to the price - most sommeliers ought to get it and make a recommendation accordingly).
                                                                                                    (3) go by the glass. Relatively speaking, wine by the glass is a sucker's bet financially (markup is often higher than on a bottle), but if you're not a big wine fan, you can probably get a glass, or 2, and spend a lot less than you would on a bottle.

                                                                                                    1. re: jono37

                                                                                                      Jono,

                                                                                                      As I said above . . .

                                                                                                      1. "Why not buy a glass or two of wine to accompany the meal? Why buy an entire bottle, regardless of what it may be, when you won't finish it? Even if the restaurant DID open the bottle (and remember that the restaurant can always refuse to do so!), and you paid $20 corkage + $1.99 for the wine, you could get some much nicer wines for $10-12 a glass . . . or less!"

                                                                                                      2a. "Don't think house wines . . . think wines by-the-glass."

                                                                                                      2b. " . . . what I'm referring to is the fact that (9 times out of 10) the wines offerred by-the-glass will be superior to that offerred as a house wine."

                                                                                                      2c. "And wines which are $10-12 per glass are still much higher in quality than 2BC (as well as many other low-end wines) -- and as been pointed out already: a) the OP admits to not being much of a drinker, and b) $22 for a bottle of 2BC vs. $10 for a much higher quality wine by-the-glass . . . I'd rather get two glasses!"

                                                                                                      Cheers,
                                                                                                      Jason

                                                                                                      1. re: jono37

                                                                                                        This is just my personal observation, but at the nicest restaurants where I've been with really good wine lists, I've found the cheapest wines in the $30/$40 range to be excellent choices. It appears there are no bad wines on these carefully chosen lists. There are so many wines available that a restaurant or sommelier would have no reason to place a poor wine, which would be an embarrassment to them, on their list. A carefully chosen wine list no matter its size is one of my criteria in picking a restaurant. Evidentially, you’re from LA, so Angelini Osteria would be a good example. My wife and I really enjoyed an excellent bottle of Barbaresco there for $45 with our dinner. Except for an Antinori Tignanello, I don’t believe I’ve ever spent over $50 for wine at a nice restaurant and I’ve never been embarrassed when ordering or disappointed in the wine.