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What are your thoughts of this restaurant corkage fee policy?

We were visiting some out of town friends recently and they suggested we dine at a restaurant for dinner one of the evenings. When our friend called to make the reservation he asked what their policy was regarding corkage. The person that took the reservation said their restaurant allows people to bring their own wine and there was a $20 corkage fee per bottle.

We took a magnum of a Cote-Rotie to enjoy with our dinner. When we looked at the menu, we saw exactly what we expected to see: there is a $20 corkage fee per bottle of wine. After dinner when the bill arrived there was a $40 corkage fee charge. Our friend asked the server about this because he only expected to see a $20 corkage fee on the bill. The server explained that because the bottle was a magnum she doubled the corkage fee. I thought to myself I suppose that was reasonable because we had brought the equivalent of 2 bottles of wine just in one bottle.

But then I thought of another scenario and politely asked the server that if instead of bringing the magnum, we had for example brought a half bottle of Sauternes to enjoy with dessert would our corkage fee then only be $10? She replied that no, our corkage in that case would still be $20 because that is still considered a bottle of wine.

We certainly were not going to argue with her about the inconsistency. Their restaurant, their rules.

What are your thoughts about that corkage fee policy?

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  1. I certainly would have chosen to argue with her about the inconsistency.

    1. I think you got played.

      That said, I would have confirmed the corkage fee before handing over the wine to be opened. Since the menu has the $20 fee printed, I would have disputed the check.

      If you paid by credit card, let the credit card company do the dirty work. Dispute the charge and claim the $20 fee was printed on the menu.

      A notification to the state department of consumer protection is also in order.

      50 Replies
      1. re: bagelman01

        That's a lot of work for $20.00. And I don't know that they did anything illegal. Their house - their rules. They can allow corkage for free or not allow it at all. I agree its a BS policy, especially the written part. In Indiana its illegal and I would love to have some kind of corkage-any corkage! I'd advise objecting with your wallet and not returning.

          1. re: Leonardo

            Exactly what is fraudulent? What am I missing?

            1. re: Leonardo

              Not really. They can charge whatever they want and change the rules whenever they want.

              I have paid double corkage on magnums before in more than one restaurant. I'm not defending a policy but its not that big of a deal.

              1. re: HoosierFoodie

                >>>They can charge whatever they want and change the rules whenever they want.<<<

                So if you called a restaurant and asked how much they charge for the New York Strip and they said $40 and when you were seated at the restaurant and read the menu which confirmed the price of the New York Strip was $40 you would have no issue if the bill arrived and were charged $80 for the New York Strip?

                1. re: Fowler

                  You would be charged 80 for a steak twice the size, same thing.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    So $20 for a steak half the size? Please read my original post.

                    1. re: Fowler

                      l did and my point stand. In my experience a half bottle requires the same service and glasses thus same charge.
                      The magnum and larger sizes are charged as a multiple of the 750's.

                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        "In my experience a half bottle requires the same service and glasses thus same charge."

                        The same could be said for the magnum. One bottle, one cork & same number of glasses.

                  2. re: Fowler

                    That's not the same. And the point below about steak size is relevant.

                    I don't like it either. The person should have been told about the difference by someone. I have taken magnums into restaurants and I have always been told, at least once, that a magnum is twice the price. Further, I believe ,though I can't recall exactly, that I asked about a magnum. I know, for instance, in MGM properties in Las Vegas the policy is, or was two years ago, that the limit was two bottles but magnums were not allowed.

                    I am not saying that the restaurant handled the situation right. In fact, they handled it poorly. They should have just let it slide for the original quoted amount because they should have explained it before the magnum was even opened.

                    That said, implying that it was fraud or that somehow legal lines have been crossed seems more than a bit excessive and a waste of time.

                    1. re: HoosierFoodie

                      Good points, Hoosier. Just to be clear (so someone else that comes along and did not read my original post does not misunderstand) I did not claim what the restaurant did was illegal. All I asked for were thoughts.

                      Thanks for your comments.

                      1. re: HoosierFoodie

                        >>> In fact, they handled it poorly. They should have just let it slide for the original quoted amount because they should have explained it before the magnum was even opened. <<<

                        FWIW, most wine lists that I can think of off the top of my head -- in the more "upscale" establishments, and independent, more moderately priced places -- do clearly state on the wine list something along the lines of:

                        "We permit corkage at $X per bottle ($2X per magnum), with a 2 bottle limit. No cellphones at the table, please."

                        Now, if indeed the policy of the restaurant is 2X corkage on a magnum, and a) it is not so stated on the wine list, nor b) explained to the patron, then you're absolutely right -- the charge should have been $20.

                        1. re: zin1953

                          "Now, if indeed the policy of the restaurant is 2X corkage on a magnum, and a) it is not so stated on the wine list, nor b) explained to the patron, then you're absolutely right -- the charge should have been $20."

                          And I really think that's been the most rational view (IMHO) throughout this topic....... side conversations just there- aside.

                      2. re: Fowler

                        Corkage fees do change though... that's happened to me more than a few times. The price of a steak is usually printed right on the menu so it's hard to get that wrong...

                        .... whereas the corkage fee is often not written down anywhere. You'll get one quote over the phone, another when you arrive and yet another when the bill comes.

                        Confirm it up front, and get the name of who you spoke to on the phone. If you're really concerned I'd call again before arrival to re-confirm.

                        1. re: TombstoneShadow

                          >>> whereas the corkage fee is often not written down anywhere. <<<

                          Maybe where YOU live -- ;^) -- but I cannot think of a single restaurant that doesn't have the corkage fee printed on their wine list.

                          1. re: zin1953

                            When you sat "restaurant" I assume you're speaking of really fine dining. Maybe the OC is too laid back, but I see very few corkage fees on wine lists at all but the really high end places around here.

                            1. re: Midlife

                              "I see very few corkage fees on wine lists"...

                              me neither. Some venues may print their corkage fee on their wine list, but wouldn't that encourage BYOB, exactly the opposite of what alot of them want to do...

                              Just checked the wine list of the first few restaurants listed on the NY Uncorked website: http://nycorked.wikispaces.com/

                              Here's Aldea:
                              http://aldearestaurant.com/wine-list/

                              Here's Aquavit:
                              http://www.aquavit.org/restaurant/pdf...

                              Here's Apiary:
                              http://www.apiarynyc.com/pdf/apiary_w...

                              Here's Ai Fiori:
                              http://www.binwise.com/print/aifiori_...

                              Here's Blue Hill:
                              http://www.bluehillfarm.com/sites/def...

                              Someone else can finish up the B's then start on the C's....

                              Here's one that does have it, Gary Danko SF, CA: http://www.garydanko.com/site/winelis... Interesting to note the printed fee is $45 / bottle which is not so unfair a deal considering you're probably going to be bringing higher-priced bottles here than you would to the "average" BYOB.

                              Whether printed or not printed is very un-even in the industry IMO.

                              1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                >>> Whether printed or not printed is very un-even in the industry IMO. <<<

                                True. I'm not denying that. But I would merely say that a) I still can't think of a place that doesn't have it printed (yes -- fine dining), and b) a website listing of wines isn't the same as the actual wine list.

                                By the way, check out Duende's website listing -- http://duendeoakland.com/wp-content/u... -- go to the Bottles pages, and look at the top of the pages: "All the Bottles Available To Go at a 50% Discount."

                            2. re: zin1953

                              I don't think I have ever seen the corkage fee on a wine list around here (DC). I make a point of always asking about the corkage fee when I make the reservation at a restaurant that I have not taken a bottle to before. Most (not all) restaurants charge double for a magnum. The assumption is that you are having more people drinking and thus more glasses, etc. However, as many noted, the main reason for a corkage fee is to make up the lost profit to the restaurant when you bring your own wine.

                              1. re: dinwiddie

                                I vaguely recall the corkage fee being on the wine list at Minibar and at Dino, but I could certainly be mistaken.

                                1. re: dinwiddie

                                  Just as an aside, I was poking around a Las Vegas retail wine store-and-tasting-bar (located in the Palazzo) that listed many of the corkage fees for restaurants on the Strip . . .

                                  http://palazzo.doublehelixwine.com/Re...

                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    Oh, and by the way, Chez Panisse charges $25/btl. but only $45/magnum . . .

                                    http://www.chezpanisse.com/menus/wine...

                                2. re: zin1953

                                  Well, zin (Jason), I don't know if YOU still live in the SF Bay Area, but here is my experience there.

                                  When I started doing BYOB with "corkage" in the later 1970s, having learned of it from wine-mentor friends, the practice was somewhat novel and not generally advertised by restaurants. Tact was called for; asking upscale restaurants if they "permitted customers to bring in wines" might bring a politely discouraging response, while "what's your corkage charge, please" -- from someone evidently accustomed to doing so -- would bring, from the very same restaurant, a price (typically in those days $10, occasionally $15 or more).

                                  In time the practice spread in restaurants, and became more open and written down. But gradually, over decades; and as many of these threads bring up, customs still differ across the US.

                                  As of my last gastronomic visit to France a few years ago, the whole idea was all but unheard-of, and I'm told that's pretty typical for Europe.

                                  1. re: eatzalot

                                    As I've mentioned before, when the topic has raised, the restaurant for which I was the wine buyer in the 1980s, charged a flat $5 over retail on the list, and corkage was $5 as well . . . then again, we weren't in the Bay Area -- we were in Santa Cruz! ;^)

                                    And -- yes -- I'm still in the Bay Area, in Berkeley.

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      And as Bob Dylan sang, things have changed. Even since the song.

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        I still think that (the $5 over retail) is a super idea.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Then get thee to Passionfish in Pacific Grove. ; >P

                                          1. re: PolarBear

                                            The Passionfish list and pricing is indeed great. Not exactly $5 over retail -- but very friendly pricing compared with so many others. -- Jake

                                          2. re: c oliver

                                            Especially considering the restaurant is paying far less than the retail price. They can sell at $5 over retail and still make a significant profit even when factoring in the cost of stemware, opportunity cost, etc.

                                              1. re: Fowler

                                                "Especially considering the restaurant is paying far less than the retail price. They can sell at $5 over retail and still make a significant profit..."

                                                That's less clear to me, as it depends on a bunch of other factors, unmentioned above, in the restaurant's accounting. The economics from the other side of a cash register aren't always intuitive to customers.

                                                OTOH, I've examined some large wine lists at big, experienced restaurants that pride themselves on the wine list. If you know a little about wine and its pricing, big lists can be revealing. The markups (even in by-glass offerings) can vary widely within a list, and the choice of how to price what kinds of wine can further vary even between closely competing restaurants, in the same market, with a lot of basic overlap on their lists. Reflecting each place's pricing strategy, sense of its target customers, etc.

                                                From this I take that as a customer, it sure helps to know something about the prices of the wines you're likely to order because the idea of fixed % markup (or even fixed dollar markup, something I associate mainly with an earlier era) is far from universal on restaurant lists.

                                                1. re: eatzalot

                                                  WSRP (Winery Suggested Retail Price) is set @ 50% markup off of the wholesale price. That translates to a 33% profit.

                                                  For example, a wine costing $120/case wholesale (before any discounts), or $10/bottle, carries a suggested retail of $15.

                                                  -- $10 + 50% markup (or $5) = $15.
                                                  -- $15 - $10 (66.67%) = $5 (33.33% BGP¹)

                                                  Retailers, who may by 5, 10, 25, 56, or more cases at one time can receive deep discounts off that "case one" wholesale. Restaurants, which often buy one case of a particular wine at a time (not including by-the-glass pours), generally do not receive a discount, except -- perhaps -- on what's called a "Family Plan," meaning if the total order is one case each of 5 separate wines, that order may receive a 5% discount off the total invoice on those wines which are eligible for a discount in the first place. (Some wines are net, no discount.) This is otherwise referred to as "5 on 5." If a restaurant buys a couple of bottles of this and a few bottles of that, those bottles are ineligible for discounts.

                                                  So, typically, if a restaurant buys a case of that $120-a-bottle WSRP Napa Valley Cab, that case cost the restaurant $960 and is likely a net (no discount) item. Any guesses how long the restaurant sits on that nearly $1,000 investment before realizing a profit?

                                                  / / / / /

                                                  Now, keep in mind, a restaurant might sell that Napa Cab anywhere from $160 (2x wholesale) to as much as $360 (3x retail)! On the other hand, "my" restaurant² would have had it on our list for $125 . . .

                                                  __________
                                                  ¹ Beginning Gross Profit, from which all costs are subtracted before one knows their actual realized net profit.

                                                  ² I wasn't the owner, merely the wine buyer/bar manager.

                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                    I defer to your experience as to WSRP, but need to inject that my memory is that the invoices of the two biggest SoCal distributor list a 'suggested retail' based on 25% gross profit. That always made me laugh when we owned our shop.

                                                  2. re: eatzalot

                                                    >>>That's less clear to me, as it depends on a bunch of other factors, <<<

                                                    I noticed you edited my reply to intentionally exclude the "other factors" I mentioned.

                                                    You are correct about inflation though. $5 in the 80's is probably roughly 3 times more in 2014 but the price of corkage is not the root of the issue.

                                                    1. re: Fowler

                                                      Other factors beyond those you mentioned -- that was my point. Jason has now added an example.

                                                      Selling price minus wholesale cost (and even some other factors) will show up on the accounting as just gross margin. The net profit can still be negative, when the rest of the constellation of costs is accounted for.

                                                      Sorry if unclear!

                                                  3. re: Fowler

                                                    Your belief would not work for any restaurant in the State of New Jersey....where the cost a a liquor license is typically six figures and can run ad high 1.5 million in the right community or location(shopping mall or highway). Factor in the cost of inventory which is over 25-50+k and that pricing strategy would doom a restaurant for lack of return.

                                                2. re: zin1953

                                                  Of course Jason's $5/btl 1980s corkage fee corresponds (with inflation) to roughly $15-20 in 2014 dollars (depending on just when in the 80s, it being a high-inflation decade) -- but roughly, typical of many restaurants today, as in the example that started this thread.

                                                  1. re: eatzalot

                                                    I'd love to find a restaurant today that only charges $15 or $20 . . . not in my neighborhood! ;^)

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          I am not surprised because you have good taste. I am going to remove the comment so others do not go there and expect special treatment.

                                                          1. re: Fowler

                                                            Yes, that touces on delicate territory ably summarized by zin1953 earlier in this thread, when it was young: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8942...

                                                            Many people who bring good wine to restaurants experience episodes of courtesy from the staffs, but that's distinct from a published straightforward policy, and it's subject to misjudgment in several ways, so maybe best let it happen spontaneously.

                                          3. re: HoosierFoodie

                                            Seems that there are elements of common usage and ethics woven into this. The word 'bottle' does not limit itself to any particular size by definition. Therefor it's understandable for the average person to expect one thing and a restaurant professional to see it differently. As has been said elsewhere here, much of this isn't really about the bottle volume, but about the reason for the fee. Each side sees it from its own perspective.

                                            1. re: Midlife

                                              >>> The word 'bottle' does not limit itself to any particular size by definition. <<<

                                              I would disagree. A standard bottle is 750ml/25.4 oz.

                                              To wit, check out the following:
                                              -- http://www.terroir-france.com/theclub...
                                              -- http://www.champagne.fr/5/53/69?searc...
                                              -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wine_bottle
                                              -- http://winefolly.com/tutorial/wine-bo...
                                              -- http://www.wrathofgrapes.com/bottles....

                                              . . . and on and on and on.

                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                Well...... I was trying to find some common ground to explain the clash of definitions, but certainly do get that the vast majority of people would see a "bottle" only as 750ml. OTOH, duesnt that, in away, back up the restaurant's position that. Magnum us two bottles?

                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                  Yes. A magnum is two bottles . . . HOWEVER, one can make a valid argument for the fact that it costs the restaurant the same amount of money to store, chill, and serve a bottle of, say, KJ Chardonnay as it does a Puligny-Montrachet (ignoring turnover); or a bottle of Korbel versus Dom Pérignon; BV Cabernet as Lafite . . . this is one argument for a flat price above retail for wine lists (off-topic, but bear with me).

                                                  AND, it costs the restaurant the same in terms of service (glasses, time @ the table pouring the wine, etc.) if someone buys wine off the list or brings it in from home (thus, the argument for corkage).

                                                  A magnum (1.5L), with its additional volume, requires either multiple visits to the table for service, or a longer time serving a larger party. Personally, I can't think of a restaurant that doesn't charge more for corkage when it comes to a magnum versus a bottle.

                                                  So, too, those restaurants that place a limit on the number of bottles one can bring in, count a magnum as two bottles towards whatever that limit may be. Not every restaurant sets a limit like that, but -- again -- I can't think of a restaurant that has such a limit that doesn't count a magnum as two bottles.

                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                    I think I've lost track of which side of this you're on. ;o[]

                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                      I don't have a "side." Basically, the restaurant can do whatever the **** it wants, as long as a) it's within the law, and b) it's "publicly stated" (i.e.: printed on the wine list). The customer is then free to make his or her own choice.

                                                      Back in the 1980s, we charged a flat $5 over retail on the list, and our corkage was a flat $5. But if TFL, for example, wants to charge $150 for corkage . . . well, *I* may think that's exorbitant, but if that's what they want to charge, so be it.

                                                      I am far more offended by outrageous markups on wine than I am exorbitant corkage fees. (Thus, my slight drift into the concept that serving a bottle of Korbel costs pretty much the same as a bottle of Dom.)

                                      2. re: bagelman01

                                        "Consumer protection"? How about business protection? Server protection?

                                      3. If the corkage fee notice did not say "$40 for magnums" then she was in error charging you that much. I would take it up with the credit card company at this point.

                                        I'll just bet that is not the restaurant's policy (doubling the fee for a magnum).

                                        1. Basically sounds like BS to me.

                                          But............ I was looking at the on line wine list of Sirena, a new and highly touted LA restaurant, and found this:

                                          "Sirena Corkage Policy:
                                          1 bottle 750 ml. bottle: party of 2 people or 1 1500L bottle: party of 4 people "

                                          That's ALL it says. No cost shown, so do we assume that they'll open one 750ml for up to 2 and one 1500ml for up to 4 people; or do there have to be exactly 2 people or 4 people? Hmmmmmmm. I think my OCD tendency is showing.

                                          Hopefully there is either NO fee (as above) OR this is just an oversight and on line only.

                                          1. I know of a good many restaurants that limit corkage to 2/750ml bottles or 1/1.5L bottle . . . personally, I think THAT is stupid.

                                            The POINT of "corkage" is for the restaurant to recoup some of the profits lost by bringing a bottle into the restaurant (BYOB), rather than purchasing it off the list.

                                            As a result, MOST restaurants that *do* restrict corkage this way -- X for 750ml; 2X for a magnum -- the *theory* being you, the customer, would have bought two bottles of wine, rather than opening one magnum . . . I don't think it's accurate, but -- there you go.

                                            Never thought about what the charges would be for a 375ml.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: zin1953

                                              It's entirely accurate and utterly logical.

                                            2. My thoughts... simple.... when it comes to corkage, I confirm everything up front when making a reservation (unless I know the place well). AND I get the name of the person who's quoting me the corkage.

                                              There's too many venues out there that have unwritten policies, this reservationist quotes you one rate, the other quotes you another, when you arrive you get a 3rd rate... *&^%$ all that... nail it down precisely up front.

                                              it' sounds like this place is one that "makes up the rules as they go along".... probably can't find their policy printed anywhere.

                                              Still, they do have a point... a magnum is two full 750ml bottles... more glasses, more pourings if the server is pouring for you, more wine sales they're missing out on...

                                              Think of it this way though... in the long run, by letting you slide for $20 this time they would probably net a whole lot more from your repeat business than $20. Penny wise and pound foolish from a marketing standpoint I think...

                                              1. Fowler, your first instinct was correct as long as the menu clearly says "$20 per 750 mL bottle." ...as it does on my wine list. We'll charge you $40 for a mag.

                                                However, your second scenario is where the restaurant went in the wrong direction. I waive corkage on a bottle if you buy a bottle from us, including half bottles, or even 4 glasses of wine.

                                                We spend a lot of money putting together a very comprehensive wine list with offerings at all kinds of price points--~450 wines from $27 to $950 with over 175 under $100 and almost 50 at or under $50--and I'd prefer you buy wine from us. But if you've got a special bottle I'll bring you special stemware, professionally decant etc. and you'll pay what I consider a nominal fee to help us recoup the cost of you bringing your own wine instead of buying from us (consider, would you ever bring your own bottled water to a white table cloth restaurant? Coffee? Steak?). However, the second you buy even an inexpensive bottle or a bottles worth by-the-glass, the economics start to turn back around and we'll cover the costs we put into wine service (note: having a full-time dedicated wine staff can cost easily $10, or more, per bottle opened, just in salaries. Though in this case is sounds like you just dealt with a server).

                                                Sadly, I suspect the server was caught in a situation where her training failed her and she was just doing what she'd been told to do without explanation. The person who answered the phone ahead of time is tougher but they should still know to provide the caveat that the corkage applies to a 750 mL and is multiplied for larger formats. We spend a TON of time making sure any customer that calls or arrives with a bottle is aware of the corkage policy and when we'll waive it. We want to put the customer in a situation where it is easy to get all of the economics right for everyone. Especially if the guests are wine lovers who have a great bottle we'd be proud to have them pair with our food.

                                                And for anyone still reading who brings bottles to restaurants sometimes, Wine Directors/Sommes love wine. Give me a couple ounces of your '96 Mouton (happened a couple weeks ago) and I can't get to the computer fast enough to wipe that corkage away.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: ellaystingray

                                                  Couldn't have said it better myself . . .

                                                  1. re: ellaystingray

                                                    Always share my BYOB's with staff, and many times the corkage disappears as just did at Gjelina in L.A., bottle was a Dal Forno.

                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                      In my very limited BYOW experiences, I have had the very same results - no charges. Still, I call first, discuss the event, and in all cases, these have been with restaurants, where we had been loyal patrons - so obvious differences from others.

                                                      Even when not a BYOW experience, but with some sommeliers' discount, I share - next to drinking wines, I love to share those wines.

                                                      Hunt

                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        While it is true that that there are times when a corkage fee gets waived when sharing the wine with the sommelier, chef, owner, whomever -- I am loathe to mention this in forums such as this.

                                                        The reason is two-fold.

                                                        I share my wine NOT in the quid pro quo of hoping, or even expecting, the corkage fee to disappear, but rather because I know the sommelier/chef/owner/whomever is a lover of wine who would enjoy tasting what I have brought. As Hunt says, "I love to share those wines."

                                                        Secondly, it is a matter of individuals, and rarely corporate policy, when and if the corkage fee gets waived. In other words, as I said above, sometimes it gets waived; sometimes it doesn't. I am pleasantly pleased, and thankful, when someone does indeed take the corkage off the bill, but it's never something I *expect* will happen. If it doesn't . . . well, I'd planned on paying it anyway, so "no harm, no foul."

                                                        In other words, I don't want anyone going into a restaurant, pouring the waiter a glass of _________ and then being upset/ticked off/angry if the corkage fee still appears on the bill.

                                                        /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

                                                        This is different that the POLICY which some restaurants clearly state on their wine list, that one bottle's corkage fee is waived for every one bottle purchased from the restaurant.

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          I agree. My intentions, in the very few instances, when I have done BYOW, have never been to by-pass any charges. It has just happened.

                                                          Being a BYOW neophyte, I am not the best to comment.

                                                          Hunt

                                                    2. re: ellaystingray

                                                      I went to a favorite french bistro restaurant last night, brought a nice bottle of wine. Their corkage fee is 20.00. Their standard tableware wine glass is the ISO standard tasting size. Our waitress asked if we wanted the larger bordeaux stemware. I answered yes. Our bill for corkage was 25.00. I had not noticed that in the fine print of the wine list, fine stemware and decanting required a fee of 30.00 (an additional fee of 10.00), so we were charged corkage of 20.00 plus stemware charge of 5.00. This was not thin crystal riedel stemware, but large heavy wine glassware...possibly crystal. I have always offered wine tastes to the co-owner (somm/wine director), but I found the 5.00 charge for "stemware" offensive on principle.....Your thoughts?

                                                      1. re: Ciaociao1969

                                                        Well, on the face of it, it's preposterous, but first I have two thoughts, before my conclusions:

                                                        1) You are the one who (admittedly) did not notice the fine print -- in other words, the restaurant wasn't trying to "pull a fast one" on you; they posted their policy, but (unfortunately) you didn't read it.

                                                        2) Many high(er)-end restaurants have "deals" worked out so that they can get top quality stemware for a relatively small price -- and I am not just talking wholesale, but deeply discounted below the wholesale price. But the type of glassware you are describing sounds more "old fashioned." Maybe it was his mother's? ;^)

                                                        Now then, I too have run into this policy before, and it makes NO sense to me whatsoever.

                                                        On the one hand, I *do* understand the idea behind "reserve stem wear" -- let's say hand-blown, top-of-the-line Riedels, versus machine-made everyday Riedels. And the care and cost of such hand-, or rather, mouth-blown stemware *is* higher. But I find that's the cost of doing business, and not something you "ding" your most treasured assists, your customers, for.

                                                        Besides, how does "Joe Shmoe" feel, when he sees (in front of the date he's trying to impress) that his 2027 Podunk Cabernet -- what? isn't "good enough" to deserve the good stemware???? And what does it say about the restaurant -- that they know their regular glassware sucks, but for the "important" people who can appreciate the difference, we have some better glasses to use???

                                                        On TOP of which, if you are a good and regular (even semi-regular) customer of the bistro, I'd have waived the corkage, period, let alone any BS "up charge" for using the "good glasses."

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have patronized this restaurant since it opened seven years ago. For a few years, I worked in a retail wine and cheese shop and used to refer quite a few customers to them. Back then, they used to regularly wave corkage. In the past few years, however, we have only gone there once or twice a year-for special occasions. The glasses were not even close to hand blown riedel stemware...these were thick walled, large bowl glasses...appeared to be glass rather than crystal. The nose was considerably improved in the larger glass and enhanced the enjoyment of our wine. Although the charge was only 5.00 for stemware, on principle it was offensive and will discourage me from returning there anytime soon. Had the stemware been thin-wall, delicate, hand blown glasses, I might have taken less exception...if we return, perhaps We'll bring our own stemware, lol....it would be worth observing the reaction. Kind of a shame to sour a loyal customer for such a trivial profit. Your point about having two tiers of glassware is the bottom line....stupid.

                                                    3. Unless you are in one of those rare places where corkage fees are set by law, you have no real complaint. (and most places they just set a maximum fee and don't even bother to enforce that.) Corkage fees are set by the restaurant, and are subject to supply and demand. It is not at all unusual for restaurants to charge 2X the corkage fee for mags. After all, it really is two bottles worth.

                                                      Restaurants are not required to permit corkage, and if they choose to charge what they will, so be it. You can always vote on the reasonableness of the fee with your feet and patronize someplace else.

                                                      I've had restaurants tell me on the phone that the corkage fee is $20 then charge me $25 when I brought a bottle. Do I have any legal recourse, not really. I can complain, write about it on the boards, or just never go back, but that is about it. If you try to dispute it on your credit card, you will lose every time.

                                                      Should they have told you up front, yes. But then again, you should have expected the double fee, it is more common than not for restaurants that charge more than a nominal corkage fee.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: dinwiddie

                                                        Thank you; the one objective voice, so far.

                                                      2. BTW folks, nowhere in his post did Fowler say that the corkage fee was printed on the menu or posted in the restaurant. It was a discussion over the phone. If it had been published somewhere, it may be a different story, but if it wasn't he is out of luck and all he can do is complain.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: dinwiddie

                                                          I guess you skipped reading the second paragraph of Fowler's post:
                                                          "When we looked at the menu, we saw exactly what we expected to see: there is a $20 corkage fee per bottle of wine. After dinner when the bill arrived there was a $40 corkage fee "

                                                          1. re: dinwiddie

                                                            "When we looked at the menu, we saw exactly what we expected to see: there is a $20 corkage fee per bottle of wine."

                                                            1. re: dinwiddie

                                                              dinwiddie, while I find it bizarre you would claim I never said the corkage fee was on the menu, I find it even more baffling that you conclude I am of the male gender based upon anything in this thread or even any other thread.

                                                              1. re: Fowler

                                                                I stand corrected, I read the post and didn't expand it to read it all. Sorry.

                                                            2. Right math....stupid Customer Service policy

                                                              1. And a corkage fee of $20 seems awfully steep. They need a few less accountants running the business. for Example, you buy a $35 bottle of wine, no charge for corkage and you'll get 4 decent although meager pours. You buy the $11 glass of wine...a bit more pour...still no charge. You bring your $20 bottle, pay $20, you lose.

                                                                Admittedly the $11 glass probably only runs you $8.99 in a store

                                                                30 Replies
                                                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                  >>> And a corkage fee of $20 seems awfully steep. <<<

                                                                  Not really, depending upon where you live, and how fancy the restaurant . . .

                                                                  From Jaleo in Washington DC: "You are welcome to bring your own wine to Jaleo DC for a corkage fee of $20 per bottle."

                                                                  From Minibar in Washington DC: "You are welcome to bring your own wine, for a corking fee of $25 per bottle. There is a maximum of two bottles per party."

                                                                  At Emeril's New Orleans Fish House,in Las Vegas, corkage is $25; same at Emeril's restaurants that are actually IN New Orleans . . . .

                                                                  From Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco: "Our corkage policy is fourty dollars per 750 ml bottle; the limit per party is two bottles. The corkage for magnums is seventy five dollars; the limit per party is one bottle respectively."

                                                                  From Per Se restaurant in New York City: "We are pleased to offer wine service for bottles not represented on our list for a $90.00 fee per 750ml of wine. This service is limited up to the equivalent of 3 standard bottles."

                                                                  (OK, now THAT'S outrageous!)

                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                    From Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco: "Our corkage policy is fourty dollars per 750 ml bottle; the limit per party is two bottles."

                                                                    For that kind of fee you'd think Gary Danko would know how to spell "Forty". ;o)))))))))))))))

                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                      I know . . . I was going to fix it, but then I figured what the heck --

                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                        Oh well, Web presence is what is important, if u no wat i mean?

                                                                        Hunt

                                                                      2. re: zin1953

                                                                        LOL, given the prices on the wine list at Per Se, $90 is a bargain!

                                                                        Personally, I'd never bring even a normal or just good bottle of wine to a place like Per Se, I'd be embarrassed. The more expensive bottle you bring, the more that $90 sounds like a bargain.

                                                                        One bottle I brought to Per Se was a '61 Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1ère Trie Le Mont, pretty much the best bottle of wine that has ever graced my cellar, which I could never have afforded if it was actually on Per Se's list. So in that case $90 was a true bargain for the chance to pair a legendary wine with awesome food.

                                                                        FWIW, in Philly, the BYOB capital of the world, $20-$35 corkage fees are pretty standard for fine dining restaurants that have a liquor license, assuming they allow you to bring anything at all (most true BYOBs that don't have licenses don't charge corkage fees here).

                                                                        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                                          The corkage fee at both French Laundry and Per Se is now $150, with a limit of one bottle per 2 guests.

                                                                          1. re: willyum

                                                                            At Per Se maybe, but in the heart of Napa??? I guess the message is clear.

                                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                                              I don't what message you mean, Midlife. French Laundry has always had a cosmopolitan wine list IIRC -- honoring, but hardly obsessed with, local products. I don't know the exact breakdown of its list, but it never occurred to me to seek California wines there if I spotted, say, a wonderful, classic Côte-Rôtie at a decent price. Most longtime Northern California wine geeks I know who'd be likely to bring wines there for corkage would probably not be bringing a local wine anyway. Indeed, most longtime wine geeks I know in N. Cal. buy only a minority of their wines, if any, from N. Cal. producers.

                                                                              We are talking about corkage with extremely special-occasion restaurants and special-occasion wines, so the local wine industry is only tangentially a consideration. Most of its products (as with most other wine regions) are not rare special-occasion wines anyway. Those few that are, aren't for sale at random tasting rooms on short notice. Besides which, the point of corkage (to everyone I know, at least) is to let you bring in an unusual bottle you wouldn't find at the restaurant -- not to get something cheaply down the road and save a few $$.

                                                                              1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                If your "special bottle" point were uniformly true, then restaurants would restrict corkage to one bottle, which is certainly the exception (I can't think of an example off the top of my head, but I'm sure they exist). Even Per Se permitted 3 when I was there (and friends have had that requirement waived and brought a dozen).

                                                                                Obviously restaurants are trying to balance making a profit, competing with their fellow restaurants, and making customers happy. But there is no one way they try to accomplish that, and one restaurant's rationale often seems to directly contradict another's.

                                                                                Why do people like to BYOB? I bet the most common answer is to either save money or to enjoy their favorite wines. Your answer may be different, but those are mine. If the restaurant is willing to offer it to me at a reasonable price, I'm going to take advantage of it and not worry about why they are doing it or what effect it has on their bottom line. I'm the customer, not their business partner or accountant. There's too much BS about wine as it is.

                                                                                1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                  Sorry, but the message I get from a $150 corkage fee is 'please don't bring your own bottle'.

                                                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                                                    LOL, or at least 'please don't bring your Yellow Tail'.

                                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                                      "the message I get from a $150 corkage fee is 'please don't bring your own bottle'."

                                                                                      That's a mistake, Midlife, because there's more context to the picture.

                                                                                      - First: Scale corkage fees by average dinner check, before applying any other judgment. Average, today, at TFL _without_ wine is, what, $350 per person? A $150 corkage fee at that restaurant compares logically to $20 corkage at a $50 p/p restaurant.

                                                                                      - In the SF region some years ago, at a different high-end restaurant, several wine fanatics and scholars wanted to have a dinner and open very rare wines from their collections, 4 bottles I think. The restaurant refused, citing a no-corkage policy. Management would not bend, even if the group bought parallel wines off the list. Punchline: The brought-in wines, purchased decades earlier, had total current market value something like $10k or $20k; the principal owner could afford and would, if necessary, gladly have bought the restaurant's very finest wines to accompany them. (This rigid policy resulted not just in big revenue loss to the restaurant, but future losses -- word got around among wine collectors.) So it's a question of trade-off. A reasonable restaurant will strike a balance.

                                                                                      As the customer, I'd naturally prefer if I could bring any favorite bottle into The French Laundry for a modest fee, but the reality is that for the kinds of dinners there, and the types of wines I might actually bring there, the current fee is NOT out of line. That's pretty much how every serious wine geek I know in the same region feels about it.

                                                                                  2. re: Midlife

                                                                                    TFL Corkage…

                                                                                    Because of the multitude of BTG wines and half-bottles on TFL's wine list, the message I get from TFL is one that emphasizes the best flavor experience.

                                                                                    Something along the lines of,
                                                                                    "We have carefully chosen wines that go extremely well with the flavors we serve, and we offer those wines in small formats (by the glass and half-bottle) so that pairings can be dialed in for one or two courses. You're spending all this money to have a new flavor experience here, we'd prefer that you also have an elevated and possibly new flavor experience with wine and food and wine pairings. The wine you bring in might be perfectly lovely, but not as good for pairing with our menu items as the wines we have chosen to be on our list (and we will help you select the best ones for your tasting menu). We'd like to discourage your bringing in outside wine for these reasons."

                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                      Really? They charge $150 to discourage you from bring in the wrong wine. All due respect, Maria, but when I was there we ordered wine from the wine list and no one made sure we ordered only wines that would pair with that specific chef's menu. That statement reads extremely well, and I have loads if respect for Thomas Keller, but It's quite a leap of faith to accept this as total truth. Just sayin'.

                                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                                        It's my impression, drawing upon my visits there and chats with personnel. I'm sticking by it.

                                                                                        You are welcome to disagree based on your own visits and analysis, just as I am free to base my opinion and analysis on my experiences, chats and information.

                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                          I'm not taking issue with you personally Maria. Maybe my natural tendency toward cynicism combined with my own experience there to form my thoughts. I'd really much rather believe that quote......... truth be told.

                                                                                        2. re: Midlife

                                                                                          "when I was there we ordered wine from the wine list and no one made sure we ordered only wines that would pair with that specific chef's menu."

                                                                                          Sorry to hear that, Midlife. It's possible that for whatever reason, you didn't get to see in action the remarkable level of sommelier service that the French Laundry is known for here in the Bay Area. A level of service equalling and generally surpassing that at competing high-end restaurants I've experienced in the US and, specifically, France, including French "wine country," that are likewise known for their wine inventories and somm service. (Though, to be fair, an international joy of wine enthusiam is widespread; I've encountered the most helpful, frank, informed interactions in many regions, from Carinthia to Kowloon, once the wine person recognizes a shared wine geekdom, in contrast maybe to other restuarant diners who are wine-indifferent, or are expense-account or trophy-bottle customers.)

                                                                                          TFL's wine dept. has shown its ability, I think, when people get to discussing details. A guest had a memorable wine once with certain merits, does the restaurant have any like that? Or, what do you think of these possible pairings? That sort of thing. Helping you to best enjoy the experience is why those skills are maintained in-house; many people remark on this after seeing it in action.

                                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                            Our experience there was extraordinary, but we never saw a Somm. Perhaps my wine choices were so spot on that they let me fly solo? ;o). Or, maybe there's no Somm working on Mondays - the night we wound up with after something like 500+ dial ups, over 3 days, to get the reservation. ;o)))))

                                                                                            This is in now way a knock on TFL, I still refer to our visit as the best overall dining experience I've ever had.

                                                                              2. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                Whether $20 is steep depends on where you live. NJ or PA, where corkage is only permitted in restaurants that do not have an alcohol license, that is really steep. In DC or MD, where only licensed establishments can offer corkage, it is is fairly normal.

                                                                                Of course, if you take a $35 bottle of wine to a restaurant, you would have to expect that the mark up would make it about $60 on the list (at least) so a $20 corkage fee still saves you money.

                                                                                1. re: dinwiddie

                                                                                  I don't think that is true about PA, or at least I can name restaurants in PA that have liquor licenses that charge corkage fees for wine you bring and are quite open about.

                                                                                2. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                  One more way of looking at your math...............

                                                                                  Your $20 bottle of wine (the one you're bringing in) would likely cost you $40 to $50 at most restaurants, so paying $20 corkaqe nets close to $0 all-in, or a breakeven. Personally I wouldn't bring a $20 bottle to a restaurant, but that's up to you.

                                                                                  And........ your $35 dollar bottle (the one you're buying) will usually have a retail value of $15 to $18.

                                                                                  As to your $8.99 bottle (the one you're buying at retail) ............ my experience is that it's wholesale price probably ranges from $8 down to as low as $6, depending on where you're buying it. If a restaurant is charging you $11 a glass for that wine you should go somewhere else. Just my opinion.

                                                                                  All this can vary widely by area and business practice, but that's basically it.

                                                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                                                    I won't quibble with you, but if you bring a $8.99 bottle of wine to a restaurant, or even buy such a bottle in the first place . . .

                                                                                    1. re: dinwiddie

                                                                                      "I won't quibble with you, but if you bring a $8.99 bottle of wine to a restaurant, or even buy such a bottle in the first place . . ."

                                                                                      Curious as to how you meant the readers interpret the implication of your unfinished sentence........

                                                                                      1. re: grampart

                                                                                        that is what the . . . is for. :)

                                                                                        1. re: dinwiddie

                                                                                          Because if you finished your thought, folks might think you're an....................?

                                                                                          1. re: grampart

                                                                                            "Because if you finished your thought, folks might think you're an..........?"

                                                                                            LOL

                                                                                      2. re: dinwiddie

                                                                                        Interesting. While I have never taken them into a restaurant, I have purchased many $8.99 bottles of wine over the years. Especially in Italy and France. You can still to this day find nice wine in Tuscany or the Southern Rhone for the equivalent of $8.99 USD.

                                                                                        1. re: Fowler

                                                                                          Of course, what you can buy for $8.99 in Tuscany or the Southern Rhone will cost you more than that here. Especially if you try to ship it back.

                                                                                          However, even there, wine is getting more expensive. Of course, when I travel in Italy, I normally just order the house wine at lunch and at dinner decide based on the type of restaurant and what is available.

                                                                                          1. re: dinwiddie

                                                                                            Curious that a glass of wine in Europe is approximately the price of a glass of milk in the US. And milk prices are rising.

                                                                                    2. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                      First off, twenty bucks for corkage is hardly steep as others have already mentioned.

                                                                                      Second, if you choose to carry in a $20 bottle to a place with a $20 corkage fee, you must be a little daffy. Corkage is not intended to make your dinner cheaper, but to offer diners a way to bring in "special" bottles of wine. Your analogies all center around buying bottles from the business, so no, corkage doesn't apply as they're already making their mark-up. And if you think a bottle of wine only yields "4 decent although meager pours," you may have a drinking problem. A 750ml bottle contains just over 25 ounces....that's 5, five ounce pours. By your math, 4 six ounce pours is "meager."

                                                                                    3. Looking at things, through a pair of "reality glasses," let's discuss what IS a "corkage fee." Jason covers a big part of it - recouping potentially lost revenue, from not selling wines from their list. That is a standard part of a corkage fee. Also, many restaurants use those, priced pretty highly, just to discourage people from doing BYOW - a penal charge, if you will.

                                                                                      Now, with a magnum, the stemware will be the same, as for a single 0.75 btl. So far, so good. The one additional "cost" to the restaurant would be the waitstaff pouring twice as many glasses. Is that worth the doubling of the entire corkage fee? I do not think so, but that is my personal feeling only. Maybe others can comment on that "extra work."

                                                                                      Now, I very seldom do BYOW, and cannot recall ever paying a corkage charge, BUT those occasions were at restaurants, that we dined at often, and I provided glasses for owners, sommeliers, chefs, etc., and always called ahead, to verify that there would be no issues.

                                                                                      The only issue that I have ever had was with BYOW on Maui, HI. Back then, the county (Island) laws forbade BYOW, so the answer was a flat "NO!"

                                                                                      I am anything but an expert on BYOW, and corkage charges, so others will have to weigh in. However, I would also be surprised at a 2x charge for a magnum - still, that is only me.

                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        Yiu make a good point about the corkage fee on magnums, but you're forgetting that they're conceivably losing out on selling 2 (or more) bottles of wine in this case. Not saying I agree, but it's somewhat understandable what the logic is.

                                                                                        1. re: PFKMan23

                                                                                          That IS a possibility.

                                                                                          Still, I would like to think that a restaurant would be more interested in covering their overhead, rather than being penal.

                                                                                          Still, I so seldom do BYOW, or even ask about it, that I am probably the last person on the list, to comment/complain on/about it it.

                                                                                          It IS obvious that some restaurants DO wish to discourage BYOW, and at any cost - like a return patron.

                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                      2. We went to a local, better, pre-fixe only restaurant over the weekend and their stated policy was: $25 corkage for one bottle; $35 for a second bottle; maximum TWO.

                                                                                        Unrelated rant..................That really didn't bother me (brought one, bought one). What DID bother me was paying $40 for a single Macallan 18 scotch. The next night we were meeting visitors at a high end local hotel where the same Macallan was $26..It takes all kinds.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Midlife

                                                                                          Ah, the "value" element. That does factor into my decisions, after I factor in storage, stemware, time to serve, etc.. Still, when a restaurant wishes to charge me twice what a bottle of Port costs at retail, for a 2 oz. pour, then I sort of hesitate, and do something else, and maybe just leave and serve that same Port to my young wife, on our patio, where I can light up a Cuban?

                                                                                          Just reviewed a wine list for a friend's restaurant visit. It was odd in several ways. They had large format bottles at below retail (still not inexpensive, but a "great" deal), and then some 0.75's at 800% markup. I advised him to go for a tad more in overall charges, enjoy and pass on some of the wines, even if the party were to share the magnums with others, from the chef, to the sommelier, to near-by patrons. The "deal" was so much better, and the final $'s so close, as to be a mild joke.

                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                        2. At least in my part of the world, part of the reasoning behind corkage is (as others have mentioned) to recoup some of the lost revenue we would have made should you have purchased a bottle from us.
                                                                                          Corkage is normally looked on as about 80% cost of our cheapest or house pour wine bottle. $20 is about the norm. It's designed to discourage you from bringing in a $4 bottle of plonk.
                                                                                          Most restaurants have very small margins in their food pricing due to cost of goods and labour. We make the biggest profits from selling drinks so that's what staff are trained to encourage.
                                                                                          Nothing infuriates a Restauranteur more than a group of six sharing two appetizers, two entrees and drinking tap water over the course of their four hour stay on a Saturday night.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: cronker

                                                                                            Cronker
                                                                                            I have no issue with paying a reasonable corkage fee. I find charging an additional fee for stemware and/or decanting offensive, unless the restaurant features hand blown fine crystal et al. When I first began seeing corkage fees appear on menus, that fee accomodated active wine service, with the server tending pours. In the past five years, however, the corkage seems to be treated almost like a penalty levied on the customer...once the cork is pulled and the first pour(s) realized, wine service disappears. I always offer the server and/or wine director a taste of any bottle I bring-without any expectation. Seems like if corkage is charged, service should be provided...otherwise, it is simply a tax.

                                                                                            1. re: Ciaociao1969

                                                                                              Agreed. I have never seen extra charges for stemware in my part of the planet.
                                                                                              In fact, we will happily provide Reidel's and a nice decanter if you bring in a decent bottle. I recently swooned over a 98 Meshach (of which I have a bottle waiting for its cork to be pulled at home!)

                                                                                              Unfortunately, some customers over here think that corkage charges means they will receive service, nice stemware and decanting performances for their 2014 Chateau De Cardboard that they arrive with.

                                                                                          2. Was the server vigilant as to proper pouring? If so, a magnum requires as much effort as two bottles.
                                                                                            Did he/she check to see if there might be an adjustment possibility when you questioned the inconsistency?
                                                                                            Yes, no need for a scene. So many things to consider. Was the dinner service and food excellent?
                                                                                            All comes into play. If, for any reason mentioned above, they fell short, I might be apt to adjust my usual very generous tip accordingly.

                                                                                            1. One cork, same glasses, you probably did your own refills - you got ratfucked, plain and simple.

                                                                                              20 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                " you got ratfucked, plain and simple."

                                                                                                I just got back on the board today after a long time away and that is the first thing I read.

                                                                                                Veggo, you are the best! :-)

                                                                                                1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                  Thanks, and welcome back Fowler!

                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                      maria lorraine, your sarcasm is noted. ;-)

                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                    Corkage fee's are NOT about the effort, they're about the money, the money, the money. The idea that pulling a cork costs $20 is, of course, silly. The idea that the business loses the profit margin from selling you a bottle is, of course, simple business mathematics.

                                                                                                    I mean, shoot, just carry in all your own food and drink, use their tables, servers, cooks, plates, silver, and glassware and get it all for free...right?

                                                                                                    1. re: luckydoghappydays

                                                                                                      only if they park my car and watch after my children as well

                                                                                                      1. re: luckydoghappydays

                                                                                                        I'm paying a $35 corkage fee tonight for a 1985 porto I'm bringing, James will decant and strain. I have no issue with that, and I look forward to dinner with my good friend delucacheesemonger.

                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                          Veggo, I hope you post a report on the 1985 Port. Which house? Have fun and enjoy it.

                                                                                                          1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                            Dow, and I'm looking forward to the whole experience. Thanks!

                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                              Should be nice and starting to drink well. Years ago I purchased a split case of the '83 and '85 Dows. I have only tried one bottle of the '83 so look forward to your assessment of the '85.

                                                                                                          2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                            Deluca is a total @#$A%^&* for missing our snow storm (and my truffle dinner). Please give him hell for me.

                                                                                                            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                                                                              Trust me, I will pass along your message. I can be Hell on wheels. We are dining at Beach Bistro, by the way, one of Florida's best restaurants.

                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                Philly, it went better than good. I'll let Deluca share his impression of the evening.

                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                  It must have. He just invited me to dinner, no doubt to brag about your dinner.

                                                                                                                  1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                                                                                    Be sure to ask him about the twins. Conversation went well. The place was full when we arrived and we were the last to leave the building.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                      Thanks for twins memory stick, very funny.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                        "we were the last to leave the building."

                                                                                                                        Escorted by the police or of your own free will? :-)

                                                                                                                        1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                          Funny you mention that. I'm mellowing in my ageing years, and we left on our own free will. But years ago in Paris, where Deluca lives almost half the time, my hasty departure from France did not include my consent.

                                                                                                              2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                To be fair, l paid the corkage cost, the port was stellar, perfect drinking age. Its forward sweetness was gone and while still sweet, was reminiscent of an older Banyuls and tasted damn good with the bouillabaise, better than the Guigal Cozes-Hermitage l had ordered for that.
                                                                                                                Restaurant less so.

                                                                                                          3. I think your situation is pretty common. Most restaurants that offer corkage do charge more for larger format bottles. As for the lack of discount for a half bottle, I get your point, but nonetheless you'd be carrying in a bottle of wine. The $20 fee is the minimum and your server was likely trained to do exactly as they did.

                                                                                                            One question.....When you called the restaurant to ask about their corkage fee, did you tell them that you would be bringing a magnum or did you just ask what the fee was for a bottle of wine?

                                                                                                            1. I think a $20 per bottle fee is very reasonable.

                                                                                                              If that is the fee that the restaurant quoted, they should open the wine and serve it in the same way that they would serve any other wine offered on their list.

                                                                                                              Charging $40 because it was a double bottle seems chintzy on the part of the restaurant. It would turn me off. I wouldn't raise the issue with them but I would not be pleased.

                                                                                                              1. Not surprised, but I would have continued the question with the manager. The server was probably right, but would have little authority to change what they entered on the bill. The manager might have adjusted the fee, if the menu did not specifically reference "per 750 ml bottle" as some do. We seek out restaurants with lower, or even no corkage. They do exist here in the Tampa area. I hope you brought a nice bottle. Still better than buying it there.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Walter630

                                                                                                                  In the part of California where I live, the corkage is generally specified to be per 750 bottle. Twice that corkage for a magnum seems logical and fair. My local, local joint waives that corkage for me. But, that is a privilege I don't expect elsewhere.

                                                                                                                  1. re: cortez

                                                                                                                    750 is pretty standard here too. I gree if you frequent a restaurant, and bring a respectable bottle, they will waive the standard fee. They would rather have you come in for multiple meals, and recommending the restaurant to others, than to only see you once a year for special occasions. Everybody wins. Restaurant, server and customer. I might add that we always over tip the server when a corkage is waived $5-$8 so that they don't loose their tip for service of the wine and look forward to our return for future visits. The restauarnt manager appreciates that too.

                                                                                                                2. That's actually a steal because you get more than 4 servings of Sauternes even from from a half bottle (up to 6). Additionally, if you would argue the corkage policy with anyone, it shouldn't be the server, they don't write the policy. The restaurant owner has to put something in place for it not to be a total loss to allow patrons to bring in their own wine. I find if I offer the server a half glass (that in high end restaurants they are allowed to accept and set aside to enjoy at the end of the night) they will charge you only one corkage regardless of how many bottles you bring in, or no corkage at all, even if they decline. Much classier than arguing after a nice meal, or "having your credit card company do the dirty work." If you can't afford corkage you could always go to Outback Steakhouse or another establishment that doesn't charge a corkage fee. Just look up BYOB or free corkage on Open Table, Yelp, or whatever reservation sight you use. Many restaurants also have a "Free Corkage" night once a week. Arguing with your server A) Won't accomplish a thing, and B) Will take their time away from their other tables who are paying for timely service just like you are. Do you really want to embarrass the person/people you are taking to dinner and have all the other patrons rolling their eyes at you? Don't be "That guy!" Cheers!

                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Shannon610

                                                                                                                    Shannon610, please go back and read the details. No one argued with the server and no one at the table ever said to let the credit card company deal with the dirty work.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Shannon610

                                                                                                                        Shannon610, I see that you changed your reply and now even further misunderstand what transpired and are, again, making false claims. May I ask why you are continuing to do that?

                                                                                                                        1. I think their policy is quite reasonable. Had you brought in 2 bottles of wine rather than the magnum, of course they would have charged $40. I have never heard of any restaurant halving the corkage for a half bottle. A restaurant can certainly set their minimum corkage charge at whatever they want. (Should a restaurant charge 1/4 corkage for a split of champagne??...I think not!)

                                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                            I don't really disagree with the $40 fee for a magnum, but I don't follow your logic in explaining why it's OK. No, they DON'T halve the $20 fee for a half bottle or quarter it for a split. Yet they DO double it for a magnum? To most people a "corkage policy" of $20 per bottle would be expected to be just that............. $20 for EACH BOTTLE. Just sayin'. The restaurant is, indeed, free to charge whatever it likes. The issue here though is really one of failure to be clear as to what defines a "bottle". Bad on the restaurant for that. I can understand a diner being surprised and possibly upset.

                                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                Magnum = 1 bottle.
                                                                                                                                $20 x 1 =20$
                                                                                                                                Those who drink magnums are quite capable of replenishing their glasses after the uncorking event.

                                                                                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                  The point us that if they won't charge less for smaller bottles, they shouldn't charge more for larger ones. Not sure why that's not clear.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                    The restaurant can reasonably set a minimum corkage charge. Of course a magnum has only one cork. Nevertheless it is reasonable to expect that the service, glassware, etc. with a magnum will be equal to that of 2 bottles of wine.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                      >>The point us that if they won't charge less for smaller bottles, they shouldn't charge more for larger ones.<<

                                                                                                                                      Because rule of proportionality doesn't have to extend to all sizes. Also the restaurant might have next to zero traffic of customers with 1/2 bottles and did not find it necessary to even include them in their "rules". I go to restaurants which go to great lengths spelling out very clearly what corkage fees are for what bottles but not a word about 1/2 bottles.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: olasek

                                                                                                                                        This was really a side discussion about clarity of information provided. I was exaggerating somewhat to make the point that there is room for misunderstanding. Personally I see the fee as a charge for glassware, opening and pouring, so a minimum fee makes sense to me. Double the fee for a magnum could be partially justified by more pouring but, to me, it seems to move the issue a bit toward the fee being to offset loss of profit. Again, my only real issue is that there doesn't seem to be a universal definition of "bottle" and that can lead to customer dissatisfaction. It's not the only thing between restaurant and consumer that can go there. Closing time seems to be another one that comes up here often.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                    I agree with Josephnl. "What we have here is a failure to communicate." (Credit the movie Cool Hand Luke) I think we have all learned a great corkage fee lesson. The Devil is in the details. Of course, I vote for one bottle, one corkage fee. One cork, no extra glass, but a little more server attention. However, the server should be checking back on their custmers regularly so pouring a few extra glasses is minor. A tip is for service, so increasing the tip for superior service would be nice.

                                                                                                                                  3. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                    Thank you. You may have a table.

                                                                                                                                  4. Another point I'm not sure was made here because due to length of thread, I read randomly.
                                                                                                                                    If one brought in a white to accompany first course and a red to accompany the main, that would necessitate 2 rounds of glasses and 2 openings. The magnum, 1 opening and 1 round of glasses.

                                                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gail

                                                                                                                                      This appears to be one of those issues that isn't based solely on logic or math. I doubt it can go beyond personal experience and perception. It appears to be one of those 'it is what it is' things. You could justify/explain it lots of ways.

                                                                                                                                      The OP was taken aback because the doubled fee was not anticipated or made clear by the restaurant in advance. OTOH, unlike another poster here, I don't think I've ever seen, or had quoted to me, a corkage policy that goes beyond the 'per bottle' description. It just happened two days ago. The quote was "first BOTTLE no fee; $10 for each BOTTLE after that". I would have had to ask about large formats. Bottom line here is probably that you should ask when planning on something out of the ordinary, unless you're OK with whatever the result might be.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                        Yes, that's reasonable.

                                                                                                                                        This whole thread developed from a simple communication with a normal ambiguity. "The person that took the reservation said ... there was a $20 corkage fee per bottle."

                                                                                                                                        No doubt that person was thinking of regular 750 ml bottles, and most people bring in those bottles. No doubt if the caller had asked about magnums, and there was a standing policy for magnums, it would have been explained too. No doubt magnums are comparatively rare.

                                                                                                                                        I don't see how either party in the phone conversation could be faulted in the case, given the limitations of what was actually discussed in the call.

                                                                                                                                        What IS strange to me is the projecting of various personal notions in the thread, such as price proportionality. Service providers price different-sized services according to market, not abstract ideas like per-ounce corkage rate. Try pricing prescription medications in different pill sizes. Often, pills with twice the dosage (scored for easy division in half) sell for almost the same price as single doses. If patients and physicians were concerned just with value, they'd only ever buy the larger pills.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                          That is not even remotely approaching an analogy.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                            Analogy to what? It's an accurate example of market pricing and illustrates the nonproportionality invoved -- the point at hand.

                                                                                                                                            Answer my earlier q. below about your "full bottles of Sauternes."

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                          At Michael Mina in San Francisco:
                                                                                                                                          "To complement our wine list, there is a $35 corkage fee (per 750 ML bottle) for two bottles and $70 for any additional bottle (per 750 ML)
                                                                                                                                          (for wines not represented on wine list)"
                                                                                                                                          http://www.michaelmina.net/pdf/menus/...

                                                                                                                                          At BourbonSteak in Los Angeles:
                                                                                                                                          "To complement our wine list, there is a $20 corkage fee (per 750 ML bottle) for two bottles and $40 for any additional bottle (per 750 ML
                                                                                                                                          )(for wines not represented on wine list)"
                                                                                                                                          http://www.michaelmina.net/pdf/menus/...

                                                                                                                                          ---> Apparently SF has higher corkage rates, who knew?

                                                                                                                                          At The French Laundry in Yountville:
                                                                                                                                          "Guests are welcome to bring wines that are not represented on our wine list; however there will be a fee of $150 for each 750ml bottle with a limit of one bottle for every two guests at the table."
                                                                                                                                          http://www.frenchlaundry.com

                                                                                                                                          ---> Apparently the farther north you go in California . . .

                                                                                                                                          At R'evolution in New Orleans:
                                                                                                                                          "We Are Pleased To Offer Wine Service For Personal Bottles. $50 Per 750ML Bottle: Two Bottles Max"
                                                                                                                                          https://binwise.com/WineLists/Restaur...

                                                                                                                                          ---> Apparently California isn't alone when it comes to high corkage fees . . .

                                                                                                                                          At Marea in New York:
                                                                                                                                          "Marea’s corkage policy allows a table to bring up to two standard 750 mL bottles for $50 per bottle. Magnums are not permitted. We do not allow wines that are on the Marea Wine List. Please refer to our wine list on this website."
                                                                                                                                          http://www.marea-nyc.com/file/5550/MA...

                                                                                                                                          ---> First time I've even seen you cannot bring a magnum!

                                                                                                                                          At Comme Ça in Las Vegas:
                                                                                                                                          "Corkage Fee Policy: $25.00 per Bottle (750ml
                                                                                                                                          )Maximum 2 Bottles (750ml) or 1 Magnum (1.5L)"
                                                                                                                                          http://commecarestaurant.com/las-vega...

                                                                                                                                          ---> This at least *implies* they charge 2x for a magnum.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                            Tra Vigne, St. Helena, (north of SF, Napa Valley):

                                                                                                                                            Corkage Fee $20 per 750ml
                                                                                                                                            We will gladly waive corkage on your first bottle,
                                                                                                                                            One corkage fee waived thereafter for every bottle purchased

                                                                                                                                            (which is interesting considering their wine list has over 500 offerings and won awards from WS). Love this restaurant.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: olasek

                                                                                                                                              Random thoughts (continued) . . .

                                                                                                                                              re: Tra Vigne -- A lot of places will waive corkage for each bottle purchased, and some will say so (including some that I listed above); still others will *not* say so, but will in fact do just that.

                                                                                                                                              re: amount of corkage fees -- I didn't mean to imply there was no place in Northern California, or the SF Bay Area, that was affordable/reasonable. Here are a few more corkage policies posted on their respective websites¹:

                                                                                                                                              Bar Tartine, San Francisco: "Corkage 20 / 750ml (limit two bottles)" -- http://www.bartartine.com/distantplac...
                                                                                                                                              Café Rouge, Berkeley: "Corkage $20.00" -- http://caferouge.net
                                                                                                                                              Commis, Oakland: "Corkage is $25.00 per 750ml bottle; limit two bottles." -- http://commisrestaurant.com/wines/
                                                                                                                                              Cotogna, San Francisco: "25 corkage fee per 750ml bottle." -- http://www.cotognasf.com/pdf/cotogna-...
                                                                                                                                              Incanto, San Francisco: "Corkage policy: $25 per 750 ml bottle." -- http://incanto.biz/food-wine/
                                                                                                                                              Picán, Oakland: "Corkage $25 per bottle; maximum 2 bottles." -- http://www.picanrestaurant.com/Docume...

                                                                                                                                              And BEST OF ALL . . .

                                                                                                                                              Perbacco, San Francisco: "To complement our selection, we are happy to open any bottle not represented on our list
                                                                                                                                              for a $20.00 charge per 750ml bottle, $35.00 per magnum.
                                                                                                                                              Limit two bottles of 750ml per party. We will gladly open any bottle over the limit for $50.00 each. We will waive one fee for every bottle purchased." -- http://perbacco.eattap.com/files/2013...

                                                                                                                                              ______________
                                                                                                                                              ¹ Even more places, of course, have their corkage policy printed on their wine lists, but NOT on the web.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                >>re: Tra Vigne -- A lot of places will waive corkage for each bottle purchased, and some will say so (including some that I listed above); still others will *not* say so, but will in fact do just that

                                                                                                                                                Waiving for each bottle purchased hardly impresses me, but waiving for the first bottle is what counts for me, I am 1 bottle per table person so the other part doesn't matter for me.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: olasek

                                                                                                                                                  Presuming, of course, you aren't at a 4-, 6-, or 8-top. ;^)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                    >> Presuming, of course, you aren't at a 4-, 6-, or 8-top. ;^)

                                                                                                                                                    What's a 8-top????

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: olasek

                                                                                                                                                      A "top" is a table. A "four top" is a table of (or for) four . . .

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                        "Of," to restaurant employees in my US region, standardly.

                                                                                                                                                        "For," to customers around here who've never worked in restaurants, or spoken with many people who have, yet who seek to display industry jargon in discussions. (It is among several US-English expressions with practical usage bifurcation along such lines; others include "price point," "parameter," "epicenter." The way people _use_ such terms sends a useful though unwitting signal.)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                          >> A "top" is a table.

                                                                                                                                                          Interesting, never heard it used. Also browsed through the slang dictionary and could not find anything of the sort.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: olasek

                                                                                                                                                            Very commonly used in CA. A 4-top is a table for four, a 2-top...

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: olasek

                                                                                                                                                              A very common term in the restaurant industry everywhere. 4-top, 6-top, 2-top. Along with other terms like "in the weeds"(slammed busy) and "86"(which means sold out, as in 86 chicken sandwiches)... but I digress.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                                                                                >> A very common term in the restaurant industry everywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                this is the key, no one of my friends knew it but once I asked a waitress friend - she knew immediately. She said it was pretty much limited to folks working in the industry.

                                                                                                                                            2. A "full" bottle of Sauternes is never the size of a full bottle of, say, cabernet, therefore, in the case of a "half bottle of Sauternes," you are actually bringing a full bottle of wine; understand that no restaurant is interested in providing glassware, service, and washing said glassware for a $20 corkage fee. It is utterly irrelevant how special the bottle of wine is because a restaurant is a business and the goal of every business is, first and foremost, to make a profit. And $20 is a very cheap corkage fee. And bringing a magnum and expecting to pay $20 is taking advantage of the situation and absolutely gauche. Did you leave the server an extra generous tip for providing wine service on 2 bottles of wine not purchased at the restaurant? Or did you just tip on the total of the bill, leaving the server no tip, although the waiter gave you the same service as those who bought the restaurant's wine? If you did not leave an extra generous tip, you should suggest to your boss that you work an extra day next week, complimentary.

                                                                                                                                              43 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                I'm totally in accord re taking advantage of these situations, and the childish ways people contrive to rationalize it; BUT:

                                                                                                                                                'A "full" bottle of Sauternes is never the size of a full bottle of, say, cabernet '

                                                                                                                                                What? I have some of both; they look remarkably similar. Are you saying you're a maitre d'hôtel who's never seen a 750 of Sauternes?? (Where do you work???)

                                                                                                                                                Also, regarding "very special" bottles, I know that some restaurants (with Michelin stars) consider it a reasonable marketing adjunct to allow this if it brings in trade doesn't lose much on the general overheads for corkage.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                  I've enjoyed many a 750 of Sauternes, so I think you are very mistaken regarding that.

                                                                                                                                                  <<"Consumer protection"? How about business protection? Server protection?>>

                                                                                                                                                  Your arguing re: server protection and business protection is noted.

                                                                                                                                                  However, if the business also "argues" that it's due an extra $20 for the magnum corkage, the business may win the battle (getting the money) but lose the war (creating such a bad feeling none of the dining party ever returns and badmouths the restaurant to friends and in social media).

                                                                                                                                                  That's terrible for business protection. Winning the war means the restaurant lets the extra $20 slide because the miscommunication and lack of clarity re bottle size was theirs. And it does so graciously. This is perhaps more protective of repeat business and brand building than grabbing the extra $20.

                                                                                                                                                  You may enjoy the many other threads on appropriate tipping to the server in corkage situations, a scenario well-covered here on the Wine Board. Welcome to Chowhound, maitred.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                    It's not about "grabbing an extra $20," it's about discouraging outside beverage being brought into the restaurant for consumption. It is beyond repellent to think that people are actually under the impression that an insult warrants a gracious reply; I have been in the business of hospitality for many years and, I assure you, I have seen the most vile behavior and behaved with the utmost politesse, but, in this forum, I can be, with a great sigh of relief, absolutely honest and give you a fine-dining restaurant's true perspective.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                      I generally agree with you, but must admit that there are certain restaurants to which I almost always bring wine for corkage. These are restaurants which mark up wine so extraordinarily that IMHO it's absolutely unconscionable. Many restaurants in southern CA charge 3x retail, and I know of one that is closer to 4x retail. When you consider that the restaurant is of course buying wine at a wholesale discount, I personally find this markup obscene. Sure I know that restaurants are in business to make money, and have cost of inventory, glassware breakage, washing glassware, service, etc. to consider. Nevertheless, when the markup is so considerable, it encourages guests bringing wine for corkage, which I do at some restaurants. I do, however, tip the servers extra well when I do so.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                        Regarding "These are restaurants which mark up wine so extraordinarily that IMHO it's absolutely unconscionable." - Do not patronize any restaurant at which you feel taken advantage of; your perception of "unconscionable" does not excuse the grotesque act of bring that which the restaurant provides. Period.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                          To clarify...is it your opinion maitred that it is always "grotesque" to bring a bottle of wine to a restaurant for corkage?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                            Yes, Joseph, it is, of course, my opinion; however, I assure you, it is the opinion of many others in the industry.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                              Do you consider it equally "grotesque" for a restaurant to charge 4x retail for a bottle of wine? For say a bottle of wine that retails for $30, the restaurant is likely paying no more than ~$20, and to sell it for $120...we're talking a profit of 500%!! Yes, of course this is an extreme example but one which I have indeed seen. Nevertheless IMHO profits of 300% which are extremely common in restaurant wine pricing, are still very common, and encourage patrons bringing wine for corkage. Sorry if you consider it grotesque, but if more restaurants marked up wine fairly (perhaps 2x wholesale), everyone would be happy, and fewer customers would even consider bringing wine for corkage.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                            1) If the restaurant provides it, I do not bring it. That is, I will not bring a bottle of (e.g.) 2011 Côte-Rôtie from, say, Jasmin to a restaurant that has the 2011 Jasmin Côte-Rôtie on their list. However, I might bring in the 1999, as it's drinking beautifully while the 2011 is far too young.

                                                                                                                                                            2) Not every restaurant marks up their wine 500%, and not every individual wine on a wine list will be marked up that high, even is some are. A good wine list will *always* have a few gems which are marked up less than the famous "show piece" wines, and -- as I've said elsewhere -- I generally have little or no problem finding them.

                                                                                                                                                            3) You can continue to denigrate the individual who chooses to bring in a bottle, but that is irrelevant. Not only do restaurants *permit* their patrons to do so, where allowed by law, but by charging $20, and not the $150 per bottle rates of a French Laundry, it can be said they encourage their patrons to do so. Indeed, some go so far as to set aside one night a week where they charge no corkage whatsoever. Others -- perhaps stuck with a lot of overpriced selections few are willing to buy off the list -- offer "half-price Mondays," or other such promotions, to encourage patrons to come in and buy wines that may otherwise just be sitting there.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                          maitred: Since you're evidently so new to Chowhound, you may not realize that many of the people taking part in threads such as this one are longtime food or wine professionals themselves. (With zin1953 if I recall right, he even started handling wine professionally long before he was old enough legally to buy it.)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                            >>>It is beyond repellent to think that people are actually under the impression that an insult warrants a gracious reply . . . I can be, with a great sigh of relief, absolutely honest and give you a fine-dining restaurant's true perspective. <<<

                                                                                                                                                            And I can categorically say, with the utmost sincerity, that I am VERY happy never to have dined in an establishment where you have been employed, or at least been blissfully unaware of your presence.

                                                                                                                                                            In my 40 years of being in the wine trade, I have become close friends with a number of sommeliers, maître d’hôtels, and restaurant owners here in California, across the United States, and in many cities throughout Western Europe. Never in these 40 years have I ever heard anyone of them express such vehement negativity and disgust over the topic of corkage – not even close! There is (almost) nothing “insulting” about corkage, though some of your posts have unfortunately come close. You are certainly welcome to voice your own opinions, but do not presume you speak for the entire fine-dining establishment!

                                                                                                                                                            OK, yes, it *can* be – “insulting” probably is the right word choice here – for someone to bring a bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel into a fine dining establishment, the type to actually employ a sommelier and/or a true maître d’hôtel. But this doesn’t happen. It is far more along the lines of “urban legend,” than it is a reality of life. What is much more likely to occur is that someone will bring in an aged bottle of California Cabernet or Bordeaux, a special Pinot Noir or Burgundy, perhaps a Champagne or Vintage Porto – maybe even a 750ml of Sauternes! – rather than a White Zin . . . Let’s remember we are talking about fine dining restaurants, not the Round Table Pizza or Applebee’s.

                                                                                                                                                            Rather than “insulting,” it is indeed a compliment: this party has chosen YOUR restaurant, YOUR food, to perfectly accompany their special bottle of wine, for yours is the establishment in which they have chosen to dine.

                                                                                                                                                            Corkage has NOTHING whatsoever to do with DISCOURAGING people from brining in their own bottle of wine. If it did, they wouldn’t charge $20, which is downright “cheap” by today’s standards. If restaurants actually wanted to discourage people from bringing in their own wines, they could do so overnight in two easy, simple steps: 1) adopt the policy of the French Laundry¹ and charge $150 per bottle for corkage; and 2) stop demanding such ridiculously high margins on wines! How many people actually spend $1,000+ on bottles of wine off the list when the very same wine is available at retail for as little as $200-250?

                                                                                                                                                            And this brings up the SECOND reason why people bring in their own wines: to drink something decent with their meals that won’t cost the proverbial arm and leg.

                                                                                                                                                            What I will tell you – again, speaking from MY own personal experience – is that most sommeliers reaction to someone bringing in their own wine(s) starts with curiosity; they want to see what the person has brought. (And I completely agree with the policy that says you cannot bring in a wine that is already on their list!) Depending upon what the bottle is, the next reaction will range from a shrug of the shoulders to excitement and a secret desire: hoping they are offered a taste.

                                                                                                                                                            Most chefs – those who enjoy wine – are also pleased when someone sends a glass back to them, pleased that someone remembered the chef. (This is different when the chef is also the owner; see the next paragraph.)

                                                                                                                                                            Restaurant owners may indeed have a fleeting moment of regret over corkage. They wish the party had purchased wines off the list, and frequently they do! I am not alone in buying one bottle for every bottle we bring in (and I don’t bring wine into a restaurant all that often). But the savvy owner will realize that the individual who brings in (e.g.) that bottle of 1982 Bordeaux would never buy a bottle of 1982 Bordeaux off a wine list – it is prohibitively expensive! who could afford it? – but instead would spend money on something far less expensive, and the restaurant would (in most cases) make a similar net in either case.

                                                                                                                                                            _______________
                                                                                                                                                            ¹ Now THERE is a restaurant that wants to discourage corkage!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                              1.) 2 weeks ago a party of two brought in a bottle of Chateau Diana. Are you familiar with this wine? Customers bringing in cheap bottles of wine is not an urban legend, unfortunately. A couple of months ago, a party of 4 guests, I can only very loosely call them "women," brought in 2 bottles of Yellowtail Chardonnay.
                                                                                                                                                              2.) Most Wine Directors, Beverage Managers, and Sommeliers do not represent the best interests of the ownership; I have known many in the "wine trade," and I can honestly say that wine reps are, without a doubt, the Willy Lomans of this industry, "blissfully unaware" of the true economic requirements of a restaurant, existing in an entirely abstract world of excruciatingly ersatz academic perspectives.
                                                                                                                                                              3.) Restaurant owners are never happy to see a bottle of wine brought in by a guest, regardless of the vintage, regardless of who gets a taste, regardless of the grape, appellation, Chateau, terroir... The regret that an owner feels is not "fleeting"; it is painful to see 4-star service executed for a bottle of wine which has been purchased from someone else.
                                                                                                                                                              4.) I guarantee that if you have dined at an establishment where I have been employed, you would've have been "blissfully" aware of my presence, most likely chatted with me extensively, perhaps palmed me, laughed with me; each and every night is an Oscar-worthy performance on my part, my disdain completely hidden. You would've thought that I actually liked you, was actually happy to see you.
                                                                                                                                                              5.) I do not presume to "speak for the entire fine-dining establishment"; I am far too articulate.
                                                                                                                                                              5.) The waiter's "secret desire" is that the bottle of wine brought by the guest will be corked.
                                                                                                                                                              6.) We do not need you to purchase the $1,000 bottle of wine; purchase the $85 bottle of wine, which allows us to make a decent profit, far exceeding the corkage on your Chateau Bullshit 1982.
                                                                                                                                                              7.) I am very generous with wine reps and winemakers; I just wish they'd dress better.
                                                                                                                                                              8.) I realize that I am the villain of this thread and hope to win Best Supporting Actor.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                You represent one side -- and, unfortunately, a rather sad one -- of an industry that I dearly love. But not everything is as you describe.

                                                                                                                                                                1) I have no doubt that people have brought in Chateau Diana ($1.99 or 3/$5), Yellow Tail and even the aforementioned Sutter Home. That is why I said it was more like an urban legend, something that actually does happen albeit rarely, rather than "urban myth," which never actually happened but everyone knows this friend of a friend that swears it's true.

                                                                                                                                                                2) FWIW, I never mentioned Beverage Managers. Be that as it may, they (and Sommeliers/Wine Directors as well as maître d'hôtels) certainly do represent the house, especially if their compensation (e.g.: year-end bonus) is tied to profits. That said, it's certainly true that this is not a 24/7 preoccupation of theirs. However, what everyone is concerned about -- from owner to wait staff -- is how many covers they're doing that evening. And no one wants to turn away business . . . which is one of the reasons why so many places offer a reasonable corkage fee ($20) versus the number of places with outrageous corkage policies ($150).

                                                                                                                                                                3) Every restaurant owner I've spoken with -- including one this very evening -- are happy when people bring in their own bottle: they come in, they spend money; they may (or may not) have cocktails or Champagne to start; they may (or may not) buy a bottle or two as well; but regardless, they came in and spent $$$$. That is better than not coming at all, and in the overwhelming majority of cases, these diners will return, and most likely without a bottle next time (or perhaps the time previous to this). Last week, I brought a bottle of sparkling wine to a restaurant with four friends; following that, we ordered a bottle of white and then a bottle of red off their list. Now, just for the sake of clarity, I have not spoken with every restaurant owner on the planet, so I am sure this is a situation where some may indeed hold other opinions . . .

                                                                                                                                                                4) As I would hope you would treat everyone . . .

                                                                                                                                                                5) I'm sorry, but weren't you the one who said, above, "I can be, with a great sigh of relief, absolutely honest and give you a fine-dining restaurant's true perspective." I would have thought you would give up YOUR perspective, but perhaps I was mistaken.

                                                                                                                                                                6) If you do not need someone to purchase the $1,000 bottle of wine, then why is it on the list? For window dressing; to impress the tourists AND the Wine Speculator. As for buying the $85 bottle, I generally do . . . IF it isn't available down the street for $20-25 retail. I do not object to fair markups for wine. I *do* object to unreasonable markups, however. Presuming that the wine is $25 at suggested retail, here in California that would mean the bottle cost the restaurant no more than $16.67/bottle. I find that markup highly offensive. On the other hand, I have no problem finding wines which represent great values on the wine lists at places like Le Bernardin, Morea, Gary Danko, Michael Mina . . . and virtually every other place I can think of.

                                                                                                                                                                7) I wish they would dress better, too.

                                                                                                                                                                8) You have a good shot.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                  1. You are not familiar with the definition of "urban legend," which often includes "urban myth" as part of it's list of synonyms; the first synonym for "legend" is often "myth." Alligators in the sewers is an urban legend; I doubt anyone believes that this might be true. ... " An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true.[1] As with all folklore and mythology, the designation suggests nothing about the story's veracity, but merely that it is in circulation, exhibits variation over time, and carries some significance that motivates the community in preserving and propagating it." from Wikipedia - because I'm a bit tired.
                                                                                                                                                                  2. Number of covers is meaningless without a certain check average; it's about reaching a certain revenue, regardless of number of covers. Check average multiplied by number of covers must equal a certain number or the restaurant doesn't break even. You do not understand how it works; I'm not referring to a diner in Port Chester.
                                                                                                                                                                  3. You haven't spoken with anyone who pays a high rent. Make that an "unreasonably" high rent. Talk about markup.
                                                                                                                                                                  4. I am the Auntie Mame of the dining room.
                                                                                                                                                                  5. I represent the restaurants I've worked for; 3-4 stars from the New York Times, 1-2 Michelin stars.
                                                                                                                                                                  6. If you want to drink a wine which retails at the shop for $25 in our dining room, you will pay $85; we provide a costly environment, in a costly part of town. We pay, you pay... or get out.
                                                                                                                                                                  7. Finally, you are being reasonable.
                                                                                                                                                                  8. And the cover of Details.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                    >>> If you want to drink a wine which retails at the shop for $25 in our dining room, you will pay $85; we provide a costly environment, in a costly part of town. We pay, you pay... or get out. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                    So a 500+% markup is perfectly fine to you?

                                                                                                                                                                    As I said earlier, I'm SO GLAD I have never been in a restaurant where you work.

                                                                                                                                                                    Period. End of discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                      You actually mentioned one restaurant where I have worked, although you misspelled the name of said restaurant. It is customary to mark up a wine 400% from our cost. Unless, it is a wine for which we pay over $50; then it goes down to 300%. Do not open a restaurant; you will fail. Period.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                        Actually I was very successful in the restaurant business . . .

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                          Jason, I really can't believe you are feeding this.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                          By the way, I meant to say this earlier.

                                                                                                                                                                          I often misspell Marea as "Morea" -- has to do with studying ancient history, rather than New York restaurants. My bad. I apologize.

                                                                                                                                                                          On the other hand, there's a reason I've only dined there once, versus other restaurants in Manhattan.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                  Hi, Jason:

                                                                                                                                                                  Dang, I was about to ask him/her if a Chateau Prolix would pair well with roast prig...

                                                                                                                                                                  I like your approach better.

                                                                                                                                                                  Aloha,
                                                                                                                                                                  Kaleo

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                                                                    Hi K -

                                                                                                                                                                    " Roast Prig " Good one.

                                                                                                                                                                    Like a Tory on toast, a UKIP-per, a Twit-bix, or a Sloane Ranger in Aspic. I must remember that next time in London.

                                                                                                                                                                    I keep hearing The French Laundry mentioned as a milestone, or benchmark in a number of CH articles.

                                                                                                                                                                    Never dined there personally ( I think I have TFL Chef's book ), so. . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                    Have you dined there ever, or know anyone who has ?

                                                                                                                                                                    -R

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                                                                      No idea how this sequed to The French Laundry, but were the grateful recipients of an anniversary gift from a rather large group of friends........ two tasting menu dinners and a large wad of cash for wine. I don't have a lot to compare it to but I'd say it was the best dining experience I've ever had. And I use the word 'experience' very specifically.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                                                                        Yes. I have. My wife has (though, oddly, not together). Friends of ours have, some on a fairly regular basis (i.e.: 12-15 times a year, or so).

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                                                                          SWISSAIRE: There's endless discussion of the French Laundry on the San Francisco area board, just go there and search if you're interested generally.

                                                                                                                                                                          After it opened in 1994 it became widely acclaimed as the "best" restaurant in the United States and it also helped crystallize a trend of restaurants opening in a prominent US wine-growing region once notorious for sheer lack of restaurants. Later, French Laundry opened a New York City annex called Per Se.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                            In the "I-hate-to-pick-nits-but . . . " Department:

                                                                                                                                                                            >>> After it opened in 1994 it became widely acclaimed as the "best" restaurant in the United States and it also helped crystallize a trend of restaurants opening in a prominent US wine-growing region once notorious for sheer lack of restaurants. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                            The French Laundry actually opened -- under the name "French Laundry" -- in 1978, and was owned by Don and Sally Schmitt until it was sold to Thomas Keller in 1994.

                                                                                                                                                                            In the 1980s, it was an award-winning restaurant that helped bring better and better restaurants to the Napa Valley. (Think more like downstairs at Chez Panisse, complete with prix fixe, changing menus, etc., etc.) That said, there is no doubt that Keller transformed FL into something much greater than it ever was under the Schmitts -- from being the best restaurant in the Valley to being one of the finest restaurants in the world . . .

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                              Sorry -- I omitted the Schmitts (I know some of the family) because the question clearly was about TFL as it became widely known.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                Ah-ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                I'll have to find that book of Thomas Keller then. It is here somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you greatly one and all for the insight information.

                                                                                                                                                                                Someday, someday . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                3. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                  >>> A "full" bottle of Sauternes is never the size of a full bottle of, say, cabernet, therefore, in the case of a "half bottle of Sauternes," you are actually bringing a full bottle of wine . . . <<<

                                                                                                                                                                  WTF?!?!?

                                                                                                                                                                  I have probably 18-24 bottles of Sauternes and Barsac in my cellar. No more than eight are HALF-bottles (i.e.: 375ml). The rest are all (full) bottles, and at 750ml, they contain the EXACT same volume as (full) bottles of California Cabernet Sauvignon, Oregon Pinot Noir, White Burgundy, Red Bordeaux, Champagne, Chiant, Rioja tinto, Douro branco, Australian Shiraz, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, South African Chenin Blanc . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                    As a maitre d'hôtel, I have, naturally, seen everything: a 750 ml bottle of Sauternes, a 1500 ml bottle of Sauternes, and a guest asking for hot water and lemon and then proceeding to pull a teabag out of her purse; BYOT - Bring Your Own Teabag ... I have, however, in all my years at 1 and 2 Michelin-starred restaurants NEVER seen a party of 4 consume a 750 ml bottle of Sauternes; that is my point. ... There are restaurants which "allow" many things: unlimited bottles of wine brought in by guests, cakes brought in by guests, baseball caps, shorts, flip-flops; I am thoroughly comfortable with a policy which does not allow ANY outside food or beverage.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                      Hmmm, do you have your eyes closed a lot? I see parties of four finish bottles of Sauternes all the time -- be it in restaurants or in private homes, including my own. I can't recall ever seeing a couple finish a full bottle of Sauternes, but that doesn't change the fact that a full bottle is a full bottle (750ml), and a half-bottle is a half-bottle (375ml).

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                        I will say it again, as my previous words seem incapable of penetrating the intellects which have put forth not one compelling argument: I have never, in all my years, seen a party of 4 consume a 750 ml bottle of Sauternes. The consumption of Sauternes, port, tokaji, etc. is, most often, limited to a 2 - 2.5 ounce pour, per person, as it is generally less than desirable to consume more than that, at a given meal. However, I suppose it is, certainly, possible for 1 person to consume an entire 750 ml bottle of Sauternes himself. What is your goddamned point? If you bring a magnum of wine to a restaurant and are charged double the corkage fee, you are NOT BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. Even if the $12-an-hour reservationist did not think to specify that the corkage fee applies to 750 ml bottles and if you bring a magnum you will pay double the corkage fee.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                          >>> I have never, in all my years, seen a party of 4 consume a 750 ml bottle of Sauternes. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                          OK. I shall take you at your word. On the other hand, I shall hope you do the same: I have, and I have seen it many, many times. Should we call that "even"?

                                                                                                                                                                          >>> The consumption of Sauternes, port, tokaji, etc. is, most often, limited to a 2 - 2.5 ounce pour, per person . . . <<<

                                                                                                                                                                          Limited by what, Federal authority??? It is limited by what a restaurant's by-the-glass pours -- and yes, they pour 2.0-2.5 ounces (versus 4-6 ounces for dry table wine), though some establishments pour 1.5 ounces, and others may pour as much as 3.0 ounces. On the other hand, I was talking about when people buy the bottle off the list, not ordering by the glass. Hell, I wouldn't pay for a whole bottle either it than means 10-12 glasses . . . not at THOSE prices!!!

                                                                                                                                                                          >>> . . . as it is generally less than desirable to consume more than that, at a given meal. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                          Says who? Well, certainly if one is diabetic, but under what other circumstance (presuming one's blood alcohol content [BAC] remains reasonable, or that one has plans for a taxi)? And since you brought up the subject of Porto, there are even more nights when we open up older Colheitas -- more frequently than older Vintage Ports -- and these do not last long after opening . . . consumption seems not to be a problem, as long as a) the Stilton or Queso de Serra doesn't run out, and b) no one befriends the Bishop of Norwich.

                                                                                                                                                                          >>> However, I suppose it is, certainly, possible for 1 person to consume an entire 750 ml bottle of Sauternes himself. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                          Theoretically, perhaps, but no one -- except for you -- has brought up that possibility, and I for one would hate to think of what that person's blood sugar, or his BAC, readings would be.

                                                                                                                                                                          >>> If you bring a magnum of wine to a restaurant and are charged double the corkage fee, you are NOT BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                          And if you bothered to actually read through this thread, you would have seen that I have consistently said that corkage for a magnum SHOULD be double the price of a 750ml . . . so what exactly is YOUR point?

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                          This has all grown utterly wearisome. Bring your magnums of wine, bring your teabags, bring your birthday cakes; restaurants will continue to politely deal with philistines as they have for many, many years. I must get back to the dining room; I believe someone brought his own waiter to avoid paying a gratuity. I think it's his son.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                              The scariest thing I've heard since Putin was re-elected!

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                              Well, I certainly agree with your first comment . . .

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                                One more random thought, and I hope this doesn't open up an entirely new can of worms (not my intention).

                                                                                                                                                                                re: 5) above -- the waiter is *not* secretly hoping that my wine is corked; he or she is secretly hoping to taste it (IF they like wine), but more importantly, they want to get a decent tip, and since I tip on the wine as if I bought it (not brought it), they generally do.

                                                                                                                                                                                Worst mistake restaurant owners make: thinking that if it weren't for corkage, the patrons would spend the current value for a comparable wine off the list. They won't.

                                                                                                                                                                                Worst mistake restaurant patrons make: thinking that they don't need to tip on the bottle they brought, because they paid corkage. Corkage goes to the house, not to the server, and -- yes -- they *need* to tip!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                  Y'know -- "hospitality" trade it may be called, and all that -- and don't mistake me for a wholesale defender of this Chowhound newbie "maitred" who appears to be among today's internetters that never read RFC1855 (especially sec. 3.1) with its accumulated wisdoms re behavior on online public forums* -- but amid the bombast and flourishes here lie some truths about the range of restaurant patrons.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hospitality people in high-end restaurants confront all sorts of behavior outside most folks' consciousness -- yet still must be nice, and leave the customer wanting to come back. Even when the customer is an idiot, talks down to service professionals, is a cheap-ass who tips poorly or tries jaw-droppingly shameless gambits to get items (or whole tabs) undeservedly comped, or is a pompous nouveau-riche showing off his wine "expertise" (recently acquired by reading the Wine Spectator and buying a few thousand bottles with High Point Scores) or showing self-importance by "sending back" perfect bottles. Not everyone has the acting skill to tolerate, flatter, humor, and schmooze with such childish clods; it's an unadvertised job requirement for the high-end pros. I understand the need to vent.

                                                                                                                                                                                  * http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc1855... if you really, really don't know about this document already.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                                    Just curious as you seem to be suggesting this imight be limited to people at "high-end" restaurants. I've experienced similar frustration at every level of consumer service I've worked around all my adult life. I suppose that, at 'lower' levels, there's more likelihood that staff might not 'maintain composure', but I think that's related to the work ethic of the staff person.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                      Didn't mean to single out high-end establishments except to the extent that the sordid horror stories I've heard over the years concerning some _specifics_ I included (clueless but arrogant nouveaux-riches throwing their weight around with the wine staff) came from expensive places.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Agreed that the cheap, the mean-spirited, and the narcissistic aren't found only among high-end customers. For that matter they're not even limited to _customers_ of restaurants (I've met a couple of managers who are pieces of work, who did their businesses and their co-workers no good, and are not merely worthy of, but candidates, for literary immortality).

                                                                                                                                                                                      One experienced friend contemplated writing a primer for restaurant customers, in view of evident need. Need does not always equal demand, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                                        FWIW, I had singled out "high-end establishments," but that was in specific response to someone who spoke of "fine dining restaurants," and those *generally* (though not exclusively) go together.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But trust me: no group whatsoever has a lock on stupidity, boorishness, cluelessness, arrogance, "tightwadiness," and the like. ;^)

                                                                                                                                                                    2. I'm curious....let's say i bring a box of wine in....does that mean there is not corkage, since there is not bottle?

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                        Old side topic, fourunder -- suggest search more general "corkage" threads.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Corkage for wine or champagne, as stated in a menu, is usually a flat charge per bottle in Europe.

                                                                                                                                                                        This ranges from a standard size bottle up to a Magnum, or Jeroboam maximum. Any size larger would require a special relationship ( such as a regular table reserve ) and prior notification.

                                                                                                                                                                        As I read it, you brought a non-standard bottle and perhaps did not mention that when you called. An honest mistake, but it happened, which the management then took advantage of.

                                                                                                                                                                        As they say house rules, creatively interpreted.

                                                                                                                                                                        19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                                                                          Where do you see it in Europe ?
                                                                                                                                                                          l have a thread going on BYOB in France and it is virtually unheard of here.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                                                                            Here, across the frontier in the Alsace, Burgundy, the Dordogne, Lago di Como. Never a problem

                                                                                                                                                                            Last month specifically in the Graubünden.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                                                                              I've traveled pretty extensively in France and elsewhere in Europe, and I can't recall ever seeing a customer bring a bottle of wine to a restaurant for corkage. Similarly, I don't believe I've ever seen reference to corkage on a wine list in Europe. Perhaps some restaurants will permit it, but if so, it's rarely done.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                This has been my experience as well . . . EXCEPT when I've been with a winemaker at a business lunch/dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                  I've also seen a winemaker/wine merchant bring wine to a restaurant for the owner and staff to taste, and I've also seen a customer bring a bottle of wine to the proprietor or chef as a gift. I've never witnessed corkage anywhere in Europe. It may happen, but it's not at all common, at least in my experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                    Gifts are always appreciated, but that is not what we're discussing.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                  Try bringing in your own bottle of wine to the most casual bistro in Paris; you will be asked, not politely, to leave. Many Americans very much like to think of themselves as worldly, chic, and sophisticated - however - they behave like hillbillies in their own country.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yet you are uninformed about regions of the US where restaurants actively court diners to bring in wines. To those restaurants, that means more tables filled, more covers turned and more repeat business. Your views may represent one part of the country but not all of it. Bear in mind that as your deliver your searing cutdowns you reveal your obvious ignorance of restaurant industry protocols that encourage and welcome customers who bring in wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                      I support your views. We are fortunate to be able to dine out 4+ time a week. We have half a dozen fine dining restaurants that have a "zero" corkage fee policy. (Florida) We also frequent another 6-8 restaurants that waive their $15.00-$25.00 fee. Restaurants love repeat business and not for the sake of just selling wine, but to sell dinners, providing wages for their staff and to provide a memorable experience, which in outages references and more patrons. Of course we try to bring wines not on their list and with a minimum retail value over $40.00. (Sometimes over $100.00 for special occasions). We have NEVER felt any negative vibs from the staff, managers or even the owner regarding our visits. It all depends on how you treat people and in turn they treat you.
                                                                                                                                                                                      There has been a lot of comparison to Europe's policy on corkage, which to me has no bearing on policies here in the USA.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                                      You are also uninformed about Paris. BYO is the exception there rather than the rule but if you ask in advance you may well get a yes. If it is a no it will be a polite no. If you show up unannounced with a bottle you are far more likely to get a rude response in the US than Paris.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Just like here, in Paris it frequently depends on whom you are with and whether or not you or someone in your party has an ongoing relationship with the restaurant. I have personally done BYO in Paris on several occasions in Paris over the past 20 years.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jock

                                                                                                                                                                                        Jock, I would going to add "except in Paris," but upon reflection (I haven't been there since 2006), I wasn't positive about it and so deleted that comment at the last minute. Thanks for posting.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jock

                                                                                                                                                                                          I am friendly with the owners of 4 different, unaffiliated restaurants in Paris, all of whom do not allow any outside food or wine brought into their establishments; in fact, they absolutely do consider it an "insult," and have used that exact word.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                                            Why insist on clouding the issue? Who has spoken about "outside food" besides you?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                              Special bottle of wine, special cupcakes; it's all the same to me. Chateau Bullshit or Bruce's Carrot Cake; outside crap is outside crap.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                                          >> Try bringing in your own bottle of wine to the most casual bistro in Paris; you will be asked, not politely, to leave. <<

                                                                                                                                                                                          Then I am very glad I do my dining far from Paris/France. BTW, I show up with my bottle 'unannounced'. Yeah, they have their own customs in Europe, are they better, no, just different, if I go to Europe I follow their rules (I was brought up in Europe).

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                                                                                      The management did not "take advantage," but, rather, the guest took advantage; pay the $40 and consider it a gift.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maitred

                                                                                                                                                                                        As a rule, I like to see and enjoy what each restaurant has and offers from the restaurant's wine cellar.

                                                                                                                                                                                        It is this way a continual learning experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I have experienced more this way of what is a good wine or not, dishes to pair with certain wines, and what ages and travels well. Thus bringing a business group or party of friends back to dine, and the ability to suggest a good wine from the stock adds greatly to the occasion.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Keeping this in mind, I would not discuss bringing a bottle of wine or spirit along to restaurateur I had not previous met, or in who's restaurant I had not dine in before. That is considered a bit much to ask.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I would only ask this permission first, from an establishment I been to previously. In my view it is an exception as a privilege, and never a constant nor a right.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The mention of being in company of a wine or spirits merchant while dining is always the exception to the rule, especially regarding corkage. In that case I defer to his or her good judgment enthusiastically, but obediently, for good reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                        That has usually resulted in another good dining, and learning experience, and in many instances later receiving a complimentary case or two of an outstanding wine, champagne, or brandy.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                                                                                                                                                          >>> Keeping this in mind, I would not discuss bringing a bottle of wine or spirit along to restaurateur I had not previous met, or in who's restaurant I had not dine in before. That is considered a bit much to ask. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree completely.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                            And yes, obviously North America is different about such rules and perceptions.

                                                                                                                                                                                            East Coast restaurants seems well organized, but once one nears the West Coast, restaurant conduct is more relaxed. In Hawaii all the rules are thrown out on the lanai.

                                                                                                                                                                                            The last conference I attended in Honolulu, we observed our host bring along a large box of his favourite wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Not a box of bottles, but out of a foil bag in a carton box, with a spigot. I said nothing, the restaurant management obviously knew him, and the evening was enjoyable.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I recall that I had iced tea.