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Sharing wine with the FOH & sending it to the BOH at a restaurant?

Adamsimpson Dec 22, 2008 06:38 PM

Everybody knows that to get out of a corkage fee, share your wine with your waiter and or chefs, but, to any chefs/waiters at a semi-upscale/upscale restaurant, if one sends back a glass of wine does it get wasted, or does it actually get consumed. I assume it may depend on the owners of an establishment, but as a generality, what is the deal with this whole thing. I just got a 3L of a decent Chilean Syrah, and I definitely dont have enough friends to share it with (as they all drink the cheapest beer/wine/liquor available) so I was going to go to a favorite spot of mine, that has treated me especially well in the past, and get a glass to every person in the place who would like one.

  1. m
    moh Jan 2, 2009 07:05 AM

    In Quebec, we have a strong tradition of BYOB restaurants with no corkage fees. This is great because we can bring some really great wines to drink with a very wine-friendly meal. The population here is also very wine-savvy, and so a lot of people appreciate good wine, and are excited to try rare bottles. It makes for a great night! Most of my favorite BYOBs have a skeleton staff, they are tiny places, and it is great fun sharing wine withe both the FOH and BOH, chatting about food, and then slowly layering as you get ready to step out into a cold winter's night. Makes winter tolerable.

    4 Replies
    1. re: moh
      Bill Hunt Jan 4, 2009 07:21 PM

      That sounds like a great tradition. Though most areas, that we frequent, do not have BYOW (B) policies, we still try to share, especially as it is often just the two of us.


      1. re: Bill Hunt
        moh Jan 5, 2009 04:20 AM

        I am certain your generosity is greatly appreciated, as is your taste in wine!

        I find that people in the resto business tend to be very generous and friendly, and that a little reciprocity goes a long way. And I agree that when you are dining as a couple, it is hard to try the wines you want and remain sober enough to remember the event! Sharing seems like a logical decision, and a lovely, kind gesture.

        1. re: moh
          markabauman Jan 5, 2009 09:48 AM

          We often vacation on the Jersey shore where BYO is normal, without corkage. Further, here in NY state, for a while, you've been able to take a sealed, unfinished bottle home. However, in both cases, we've often left a nice bottle for exceptional service (besides the tip, of course) as a gesture of thanks that has always been most appreciated.

          1. re: markabauman
            ideabaker Jan 5, 2009 10:06 AM

            Markabauman, I think that is a wonderful gesture (the full bottle). The staff at restaurants work their hineys off on a regular basis (as anyone in the foodservice biz knows) and often are not paid what their work is worth. To be able to enjoy fine wine (for free) at home with a loved one (or alone) is an unexpected and delightful.

    2. hotoynoodle Dec 27, 2008 07:20 AM

      to be safe, i would call ahead and ask to speak to the gm. i have worked in places that allow this and places that have a strict no-tolerance policy. it's a wonderful gesture on your part!

      1. s
        Somnifor Dec 26, 2008 07:11 PM

        As a chef I love it when people send wine back to the kitchen. Some of the best wines I have ever tasted were sampled this way, some that were way out of my price range. I have never seen any of it go to waste.

        If you do this at the same restaurant repeatedly you will quickly become the staff's favorite regular.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Somnifor
          ideabaker Jan 5, 2009 09:37 AM

          Glad to hear that all the wine we have sent to the FOH and BOH is likely not to go to waste. I dine with a fairly large [6-10 people] group of hard-hitting (to the pocket) wine drinkers who each bring one or two bottles to every dining event, and we often have several servings of wine left in the bottom of a few bottles (no way everyone could drink that much without staggering out of the resto... and into a police car at the curb!). We enjoy sending it back but never know if it actually makes it to the BOH!

          BTW (since we are into acronyms today ;-) ), the "best" way to get around a corkage fee is to bring larger bottles. Sure, you still pay the corkage on the bottle, but if the fee, i.e. is 10-15$ per bottle, a Magnum or Imperial costs the same to open as a 750ml...thus insuring a lower fee AND leaving more for the house (as our group still insists on bringing two bottles each, even if they are Mag's!). We've never once been charged for two bottles with a Magnum (or more for larger bottles), even in places that know their wines and bottle sizes well.

          1. re: ideabaker
            Missmoo Jan 5, 2009 10:21 AM

            Most restaurants charge more for a magnum than they do for a regular bottle of wine.

            1. re: Missmoo
              ideabaker Jan 5, 2009 01:40 PM

              Seriously, I have never experienced that in any restaurant. Maybe it is because we have so many bottles already, but never. Not even in Manhattan...

              1. re: ideabaker
                Missmoo Jan 6, 2009 09:37 AM

                Maybe it's a west coast thing. Chez Panisse is 25 corkage, 45 for a magnum. My restaurant is 20 corkage, 35 magnum. I'm sure there are others. It's not a payment for opening the wine so much as to offset the wine that is not being sold, so two bottles (a magnum) costs more.

                1. re: Missmoo
                  ideabaker Jan 6, 2009 01:28 PM

                  Yikes Missmoo! Those are big corkage fees! I'm on the East Coast, and in a fairly small beach "escape" community at that. If the house rules are 10$-15$/bottle, nobody seems to care what size bottle we bring... though even in Manhattan nobody's questioned our larger bottles... if I were where you are, I'd probably bring in a tiny airline bottle (emptied out and refilled with a fine wine) and ask for a two dollar corkage... 'cause that's all I get around to drinking at restos (more into the food there; can always have a nightcap or three later at home)! And, let's face it, I like to test "the rules"...

                  That being said, our usual outings are at a higher mid level restaurant. I wouldn't dare bring a bottle to Per Se or somewhere with an extensive wine list like that; they probably have the wine anyway and would charge a corkage fee higher than the cost of our bottle! :-)

                  1. re: ideabaker
                    Missmoo Jan 7, 2009 09:19 AM

                    Oh, well that makes sense based on where you are! I'm surprised about Manhattan, but I haven't been there in years. Perhaps it's the proximity to wine country that affects the corkage here.

                    1. re: Missmoo
                      ideabaker Jan 7, 2009 03:03 PM

                      You know, Missmoo, that crossed my mind on your last post (about being on the West coast). More vineyards, maybe restos are a bit more sensitive to things like the size of the bottle. On the other hand, maybe I've just been very lucky :-).

        2. Bill Hunt Dec 24, 2008 07:16 PM

          As my wife and I dine without guest very often, are both wine people, and too many restaurants do not have a great half-bottle selection, we often leave wine. I just tell the server. If it's a significant bottle, I'll usually offer a glass of it earlier on. What happens to the wine? I *assume* that it is consumed. In the latter case, the glass is usually consumed at our table and a conversation develops around it.

          As we so very seldom do the BYOW thing, I have little knowledge about corkage and how that might be affected. Last time that I did, part of the instructions to the sommelier were to get enough pours for our guest, himself, the owner, the chef and the owner's father. He did so - it was an older Vintage Port, so pours were small.

          Were I doing BYOW, I would offer a pour for both our server and the sommelier.


          2 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt
            nkeane Dec 24, 2008 07:33 PM

            times I have BYO'd, it was always in addition to wine ordered at the restaurant. Usually a special bottle shared with friends. Always shared a glass with the waiter/chef( usually say something like " for you and the chef. See if there is anything that we should be ordering if we are drinking this wine........"), never paid a corkage in those circumstances.

            IMO, you are never....repeat, NEVER going to offend a restaurant employee by offering to share alcohol with them! :-)....especially good vino! generosity will come back to you in kind at reputable restaurants.

            1. re: nkeane
              Bill Hunt Dec 25, 2008 01:44 PM

              I agree completely. I find that I make the offers (always from ordered wines - see above) to more of the servers, if they have shown a real interest in my wine selection. I'm not sure how often he/she might have tasted a well-aged Montrachet. If the sommelier has done some real work, helping get the selections right for the kitchen, they usually are extended the offer, as well. However, most HAVE tasted these wines, so it might not be quite the treat, as for the server. Still, we usually have more wine, than we can safely consume, so a offer of a tasting is not out of order. I like that better than just leaving the bottle(s) on the table.


          2. rednyellow Dec 24, 2008 01:02 PM

            Your gestures sounds FAB. If this is a place that has always treated you well, I'm sure they'd be flattered. Just tell the MD or waiter that you've always been treated well and wanted to share your bottle with them.

            1. Davwud Dec 23, 2008 09:13 AM

              What is FOH and BOH??


              6 Replies
              1. re: Davwud
                srr Dec 23, 2008 09:15 AM

                Front of House, Back of House

                1. re: srr
                  Davwud Dec 23, 2008 09:22 AM

                  Thanks Hounds.


                2. re: Davwud
                  Sushi Monster Dec 23, 2008 09:16 AM

                  "front of the house" staff = waitstaff, hosts, bussers, sommelier, et al
                  "back of the house" staff = chefs, lineups and preps, et al.

                  Needless, silly jargon....

                  1. re: Sushi Monster
                    saffrongold Dec 23, 2008 09:47 AM

                    if you've ever worked in a restaurant or in catering these terms are descriptive and defining, not needless or silly.

                    as to the original post, sharing wine is tolerated by most kitchens and considered a nice thing to do

                    1. re: saffrongold
                      Adamsimpson Dec 24, 2008 12:59 AM

                      Thanks much! This is the clear answer I was looking for.

                    2. re: Sushi Monster
                      hotoynoodle Dec 27, 2008 07:21 AM

                      don't you ever use abbreviations in your place of work?




                      foh and/or boh quickly groups staff verbally.

                  2. s
                    srr Dec 23, 2008 09:01 AM

                    Depends on the place. If you are sharing the rest of a 3L with staff, I doubt you would be charged corkage. Why don't you call the place and ask if the staff is able to sample wine while on the clock. Just as a note, at the place where I work, we have stopped waiving corkage when someone shares with us. Since the economy has taken a dive, I would say 50% or more of our tables on a given night bring their own wine. Management wants corkage charged on every bottle.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: srr
                      Adamsimpson Dec 23, 2008 09:07 AM

                      Im not trying to escape corkage in this case, Im just wondering if staff is allowed to consume. So I suppose calling would be the easiest way.

                      1. re: Adamsimpson
                        srr Dec 23, 2008 09:13 AM

                        "Everybody knows that to get out of a corkage fee" kind of sounds like you are trying to escape the corkage fee.

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