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Aug 19, 2007 10:56 PM

Would this be tacky....?

I'm going to Spago tomorrow night for my best friend's birthday. I'm not really a cheap person, but it annoys me to pay $100 for a bottle of champagne that I know costs $40. It just does. So I'd like to buy a bottle and bring it with me. I've confirmed with Spago their corkage fee ($25 per 750ml), but still, it feels odd to me, like they'll look at me knowing I'm just trying to stay away from their hefty champagne markup. Is this really tacky of me or should I not worry about it?

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  1. It is tacky if the restaurant has the same bottle on thier wine list. General rule of thumb is not to bring a wine on their list. Call ahead to confirm. Also is great manners to offer a glass to the somalier or waiter.

    1. I hosted a party at Spago in February for a large party and we had champagne. I recall some very reasonably priced bottles on their list. Why not have them fax you their list so you can see what your choices are. I don't have my party notes here at home and I don't recall exactly, but I think I paid around $40 per bottle and it was perfect. They had more expensive, of course, but this was fine. They recommended it to me, which I appreciated because I was inclined to pick the more expensive thinking it would be better.

      Otherwise, I'm not one who knows the "rules" on what you can bring. I must say, though, if I were to bring a bottle, I can't fathom why the somalier or waiter would be offered a glass. I don't know if I am correct, but I personally would not bring a bottle and offer a glass. I thought we had this discussion here on another thread and it was not done.

      I think it's tacky if you tell everyone why you're bringing your own.... and you will sound "cheap" and you will hurt your friend's feelings or make him/her uncomfortable -- I am assuming that your friend picked the restaurant for his/her birthday and by saying you don't like the prices, you are not on board with the party, and that could be a HUGE downer. Just my opinion....

      3 Replies
      1. re: Bite Me

        Oh no, like I said I'm not *that* cheap, and realistically, if I buy a bottle of Veuve for $50 and pay $25 for corkage, and I could just get a solid Californian methode champinoise for the same price or less, then I'd probably just do that. I just thought it would be nice to have a really nice champagne and pay a little less money for it than if we actually bought it at the restaurant -- and also have it be my part of my birthday gift, and not force everyone at dinner to chip in on the bill. It's a small dinner b-day party, 4 people, and I had a similar sized dinner party at Asia de Cuba for my birthday earlier this year so I don't feel uncomfortable with the price at all. Just thought I might save some money. Good idea about asking them to fax the wine list though, because maybe there's something good for the same price as bringing a bottle and paying corkage.....

        1. re: tijn2001

          If you are having trouble swallowing the price of champagne at a restaurant, perhaps it's best if you drink still wine (which is usually cheaper) instead. I'd bristle more at the $25 per bottle corkage fee than at the price of the wine.

          If you tell everyone why you brought your own wine, yes, it's tacky. I don't THINK Spago would refuse to pour based on that, but I can think of other restaurants where they'd just decline to offer the corkage. And you bring wine to a restaurant that they have in their cellar, oftentimes you will end up being charged the same price as if you'd just let them supply it.

          1. re: tijn2001

            ...when I do the math, is the 25 dollars you'll save to bring your own really much more than one trip to the ATM? dinner at Spago shouldn't be about saving money! spend and ENJOY! save money elsewhere. The above explanation appears to be a little bit of "doth protest too much" - and i truly do get the sense you know the answer to your own question. ;-) be the good guy you seem to be and forego BYO.

        2. Opinions are split on this. If they have a corkage fee, then the people who work at spago, including the sommalier, really won't care. In fact, if you bring something off the list (and really, you should if you can) that is unique, he may want a little taste. Offering him one is something you, of course, should do.

          Some Chowhounds are rabiidly against bringing in wine.

          My policy: if they have corkage, and the wine is not something they have, or is a significant savings for you, go for it. Spago wouldn't have set a corkage policy without assumuing people would use it.

          Still, for what you may pay for good champers and corkage, they may have a ferw bottles on the list you can afford. Also, consider other sparkling wines, such as Domestic Sparkling wines, or perhaps a good Prosecco!

          1. I've worked in restaurants and it is not uncommon or rude to bring in your own bottle of wine. I would suggest offering your server a taste, and tipping a little extra as if you had ordered off the list. I think this is a courtesy of the restaurant to allow outside wine to be brought in.

            On a side note, traveling with Champagne is not the best practice. Mainly, because the moving and bouncing in the car will result in a lot of bubbly loss and coldness factor. I've not visited Spago, but I'm assuming their staff is trained to open a bottle of Champagne with little to no sound to preserve the bubbly goodness. It is a bit difficult to do if the Champagne has been traveling.
            I'm sure you know this but make sure the wine you bring is not on the wine list, that would be very tacky!

            1. Yes, the staff will probably look at you knowing that you're just trying to stay away from their hefty champagne markup because you ARE just trying to stay away from their hefty champagne markup. If you're going to worry about it, then don't do it. It'd probably be better to just not worry about it.