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What are your thoughts of this restaurant corkage fee policy?

Fowler Mar 14, 2013 11:55 AM

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?

  1. grampart Mar 14, 2013 11:58 AM

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

    1. bagelman01 Mar 14, 2013 12:01 PM

      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.

      47 Replies
      1. re: bagelman01
        HoosierFoodie Feb 16, 2014 11:49 AM

        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: HoosierFoodie
          Leonardo Mar 1, 2014 04:08 PM

          It's called fraud.

          1. re: Leonardo
            zin1953 Mar 1, 2014 04:55 PM

            Exactly what is fraudulent? What am I missing?

            1. re: Leonardo
              HoosierFoodie Mar 3, 2014 09:42 AM

              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
                Fowler Mar 3, 2014 09:52 AM

                >>>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
                  Delucacheesemonger Mar 3, 2014 04:28 PM

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

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                    Fowler Mar 3, 2014 04:43 PM

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

                    1. re: Fowler
                      Delucacheesemonger Mar 3, 2014 05:10 PM

                      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.

                  2. re: Fowler
                    HoosierFoodie Mar 4, 2014 08:56 AM

                    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
                      Fowler Mar 4, 2014 09:18 AM

                      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
                        zin1953 Mar 4, 2014 10:03 AM

                        >>> 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
                          Midlife Mar 4, 2014 10:25 AM

                          "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
                        TombstoneShadow Mar 4, 2014 03:14 PM

                        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
                          zin1953 Mar 4, 2014 03:49 PM

                          >>> 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
                            Midlife Mar 4, 2014 04:48 PM

                            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
                              TombstoneShadow Mar 4, 2014 05:12 PM

                              "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:

                              Here's Aquavit:

                              Here's Apiary:

                              Here's Ai Fiori:

                              Here's Blue Hill:

                              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
                                zin1953 Mar 4, 2014 08:46 PM

                                >>> 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
                              dinwiddie Mar 5, 2014 06:29 AM

                              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
                                zin1953 Mar 5, 2014 07:23 AM

                                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
                                  zin1953 Mar 6, 2014 04:35 PM

                                  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 . . .


                                  1. re: zin1953
                                    zin1953 Mar 8, 2014 01:54 PM

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


                                2. re: zin1953
                                  eatzalot Mar 6, 2014 05:13 PM

                                  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
                                    zin1953 Mar 6, 2014 05:28 PM

                                    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
                                      Veggo Mar 6, 2014 05:44 PM

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

                                      1. re: zin1953
                                        c oliver Mar 6, 2014 06:23 PM

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

                                        1. re: c oliver
                                          PolarBear Mar 6, 2014 06:28 PM

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

                                          1. re: PolarBear
                                            Jake Dear Mar 7, 2014 08:44 AM

                                            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
                                            Fowler Mar 7, 2014 08:49 AM

                                            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
                                              c oliver Mar 7, 2014 08:56 AM

                                              Here's a recent thread:


                                              1. re: Fowler
                                                eatzalot Mar 7, 2014 10:16 AM

                                                "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
                                                  zin1953 Mar 7, 2014 10:35 AM

                                                  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
                                                    Midlife Mar 7, 2014 11:21 AM

                                                    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
                                                    Fowler Mar 7, 2014 10:39 AM

                                                    >>>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
                                                      eatzalot Mar 7, 2014 10:43 AM

                                                      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!

                                              2. re: zin1953
                                                eatzalot Mar 7, 2014 10:04 AM

                                                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
                                                  zin1953 Mar 7, 2014 10:36 AM

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

                                                  1. re: zin1953
                                                    Fowler Mar 7, 2014 10:53 AM


                                                    1. re: Fowler
                                                      zin1953 Mar 7, 2014 11:35 AM

                                                      Philippe and I go way back . . .

                                                      1. re: zin1953
                                                        Fowler Mar 7, 2014 11:45 AM

                                                        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
                                                          eatzalot Mar 7, 2014 12:24 PM

                                                          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: eatzalot
                                                Delucacheesemonger Mar 7, 2014 08:52 AM

                                                Tru dat

                                        2. re: HoosierFoodie
                                          Midlife Mar 3, 2014 09:58 AM

                                          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
                                            zin1953 Mar 3, 2014 12:09 PM

                                            >>> 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/bottle-size.htm
                                            -- http://www.champagne.fr/5/53/69?searched=bottles&advsearch=oneword&highlight=ajaxSearch_highlight+ajaxSearch_highlight1
                                            -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wine_bottle
                                            -- http://winefolly.com/tutorial/wine-bottle-sizes/
                                            -- http://www.wrathofgrapes.com/bottles....

                                            . . . and on and on and on.

                                            1. re: zin1953
                                              Midlife Mar 3, 2014 05:16 PM

                                              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
                                                zin1953 Mar 3, 2014 05:29 PM

                                                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
                                                  Midlife Mar 3, 2014 09:58 PM

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

                                                  1. re: Midlife
                                                    zin1953 Mar 4, 2014 04:39 AM

                                                    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. ChefJune Mar 14, 2013 01:34 PM

                                    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. Midlife Mar 14, 2013 03:50 PM

                                      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. z
                                        zin1953 Mar 14, 2013 08:02 PM

                                        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. t
                                          TombstoneShadow Mar 14, 2013 11:47 PM

                                          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. ellaystingray Mar 15, 2013 03:53 AM

                                            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
                                              zin1953 Mar 15, 2013 08:14 AM

                                              Couldn't have said it better myself . . .

                                              1. re: ellaystingray
                                                Delucacheesemonger Mar 18, 2013 05:12 PM

                                                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
                                                  Bill Hunt Mar 18, 2013 06:31 PM

                                                  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.


                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                    zin1953 Mar 18, 2013 07:50 PM

                                                    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
                                                      Bill Hunt Mar 18, 2013 08:31 PM

                                                      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.


                                                2. re: ellaystingray
                                                  Ciaociao1969 Feb 15, 2014 10:50 AM

                                                  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
                                                    zin1953 Feb 15, 2014 05:32 PM

                                                    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
                                                      Ciaociao1969 Feb 15, 2014 07:11 PM

                                                      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. d
                                                  dinwiddie Mar 15, 2013 06:09 AM

                                                  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. d
                                                    dinwiddie Mar 16, 2013 11:33 AM

                                                    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
                                                      bagelman01 Mar 16, 2013 11:37 AM

                                                      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
                                                        causeimhungry Mar 16, 2013 11:55 AM

                                                        "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
                                                          Fowler Mar 17, 2013 04:02 PM

                                                          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
                                                            dinwiddie Mar 18, 2013 08:58 AM

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

                                                        2. f
                                                          FriedClamFanatic Mar 16, 2013 12:46 PM

                                                          Right math....stupid Customer Service policy

                                                          1. f
                                                            FriedClamFanatic Mar 16, 2013 12:52 PM

                                                            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
                                                              zin1953 Mar 16, 2013 04:31 PM

                                                              >>> 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
                                                                Midlife Mar 18, 2013 04:51 PM

                                                                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
                                                                  zin1953 Mar 18, 2013 05:06 PM

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

                                                                  1. re: Midlife
                                                                    Bill Hunt Mar 18, 2013 06:33 PM

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


                                                                  2. re: zin1953
                                                                    PhillyBestBYOB Feb 28, 2014 05:29 AM

                                                                    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
                                                                      willyum Mar 1, 2014 03:07 PM

                                                                      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
                                                                        Midlife Mar 1, 2014 03:36 PM

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

                                                                        1. re: Midlife
                                                                          eatzalot Mar 2, 2014 01:26 PM

                                                                          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
                                                                            PhillyBestBYOB Mar 2, 2014 02:53 PM

                                                                            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
                                                                              Midlife Mar 2, 2014 05:31 PM

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

                                                                              1. re: Midlife
                                                                                PhillyBestBYOB Mar 2, 2014 05:58 PM

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

                                                                                1. re: Midlife
                                                                                  eatzalot Mar 3, 2014 09:12 AM

                                                                                  "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
                                                                                maria lorraine Mar 3, 2014 10:29 PM

                                                                                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
                                                                                  Midlife Mar 3, 2014 10:41 PM

                                                                                  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
                                                                                    maria lorraine Mar 4, 2014 12:34 AM

                                                                                    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
                                                                                      Midlife Mar 4, 2014 07:50 AM

                                                                                      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
                                                                                      eatzalot Mar 4, 2014 04:39 AM

                                                                                      "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
                                                                                        Midlife Mar 4, 2014 07:43 AM

                                                                                        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
                                                                            dinwiddie Mar 20, 2013 05:49 AM

                                                                            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
                                                                              PhillyBestBYOB Feb 28, 2014 05:32 AM

                                                                              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
                                                                              Midlife Mar 21, 2013 05:56 PM

                                                                              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
                                                                                dinwiddie Mar 5, 2014 06:34 AM

                                                                                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
                                                                                  grampart Mar 5, 2014 06:59 AM

                                                                                  "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
                                                                                    dinwiddie Mar 5, 2014 07:13 AM

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

                                                                                    1. re: dinwiddie
                                                                                      grampart Mar 5, 2014 07:17 AM

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

                                                                                      1. re: grampart
                                                                                        Midlife Mar 5, 2014 07:40 AM

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


                                                                                  2. re: dinwiddie
                                                                                    Fowler Mar 5, 2014 08:35 AM

                                                                                    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
                                                                                      dinwiddie Mar 5, 2014 02:47 PM

                                                                                      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
                                                                                        Veggo Mar 5, 2014 02:51 PM

                                                                                        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
                                                                                  luckydoghappydays Mar 1, 2014 02:52 PM

                                                                                  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. Bill Hunt Mar 17, 2013 08:33 PM

                                                                                  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.


                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                    PFKMan23 Mar 18, 2013 02:49 AM

                                                                                    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
                                                                                      Bill Hunt Mar 18, 2013 06:35 PM

                                                                                      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.


                                                                                  2. Midlife Mar 18, 2013 04:48 PM

                                                                                    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
                                                                                      Bill Hunt Mar 18, 2013 06:42 PM

                                                                                      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.


                                                                                    2. cronker Feb 16, 2014 02:03 PM

                                                                                      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
                                                                                        Ciaociao1969 Feb 16, 2014 08:44 PM

                                                                                        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
                                                                                          cronker Feb 17, 2014 03:51 PM

                                                                                          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. g
                                                                                        Gail Feb 16, 2014 02:05 PM

                                                                                        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. Veggo Feb 17, 2014 03:58 PM

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

                                                                                          20 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Veggo
                                                                                            Fowler Feb 18, 2014 03:18 PM

                                                                                            " 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
                                                                                              Veggo Feb 18, 2014 03:23 PM

                                                                                              Thanks, and welcome back Fowler!

                                                                                              1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                maria lorraine Feb 18, 2014 06:14 PM

                                                                                                Fowler is back??? Hooray!

                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine
                                                                                                  Fowler Feb 18, 2014 06:22 PM

                                                                                                  maria lorraine, your sarcasm is noted. ;-)

                                                                                            2. re: Veggo
                                                                                              Midlife Feb 18, 2014 06:21 PM

                                                                                              So what do you REALLY think?

                                                                                              1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                luckydoghappydays Mar 1, 2014 02:57 PM

                                                                                                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
                                                                                                  FriedClamFanatic Mar 1, 2014 04:24 PM

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

                                                                                                  1. re: luckydoghappydays
                                                                                                    Veggo Mar 2, 2014 06:19 AM

                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                      Fowler Mar 2, 2014 08:11 AM

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

                                                                                                      1. re: Fowler
                                                                                                        Veggo Mar 2, 2014 09:07 AM

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

                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                          Fowler Mar 2, 2014 10:57 AM

                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                        PhillyBestBYOB Mar 2, 2014 11:38 AM

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

                                                                                                        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                                                                          Veggo Mar 2, 2014 12:02 PM

                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                            Veggo Mar 2, 2014 09:38 PM

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

                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                              PhillyBestBYOB Mar 3, 2014 05:28 AM

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

                                                                                                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                                                                                Veggo Mar 3, 2014 06:17 AM

                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                  Delucacheesemonger Mar 3, 2014 06:22 AM

                                                                                                                  Thanks for twins memory stick, very funny.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                    Fowler Mar 3, 2014 07:55 AM

                                                                                                                    "we were the last to leave the building."

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

                                                                                                                    1. re: Fowler
                                                                                                                      Veggo Mar 3, 2014 08:13 AM

                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                            Delucacheesemonger Mar 3, 2014 05:53 AM

                                                                                                            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. l
                                                                                                        luckydoghappydays Mar 1, 2014 02:44 PM

                                                                                                        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. 9
                                                                                                          9lives Mar 2, 2014 01:43 PM

                                                                                                          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. w
                                                                                                            Walter630 Apr 13, 2014 04:03 AM

                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                              cortez 1 day ago

                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                Walter630 1 day ago

                                                                                                                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.

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