Wine Suggestions for this Interesting Menu / First Time Corkage Advice
I'm throwing a party at this restaurant and it would be great to get some wine suggestions. The menu has some portuguese influence but contains a variety of flavors.
This will be my first time bringing my own wine and have been notified corkage fee at the restaurant is $25. For a party of 11, would it be correct to assume bringing a few bottles myself around the $15-30 range would end up saving me some $$$?
Colli: That is but one category of BYOB: the "exclusive bottles only" category...
... and no disrespect, but note your perspective: as the restauranteur, not the diner...
A partial list of BYOB styles
1: Exclusive bottles only
2: Older bottles only
3: Any bottle, but older bottles get a discount (I love a place in un-named town that does this)
4: Any bottle, regardless
5: Only bottles not on the house list...
6: Any bottle... but we'll price the BYOB so absurdly high that you won't bring anything but a very expensive bottle
I've probably forgotten a couple styles which I'm sure others will fill-in....
Walking away, the most common style is #4: any bottle, here's the price, take it or leave it.
I am late to this party but I think there is a rule that I have to BYOB that I would add--take care of the wait staff. In theory, the corkage is to pay the restaurant for the glassware, etc. and some component of overhead and profit associated with the bottle of wine you did not purchase. However, the service provided by the wait staff is the same whether you buy the $75 bottle or byob. We always impute the impact on the tip for what we would have spent if we purchased a middle of the road bottle and add it to the tip. The server depends on tips and they should not be penalized for byob.
Interesting. For me, I only tip on the corkage fee. I do offer the servers a taste in case they would like to try the wine and/or the rest of the bottle if we do not finish it.
Your logic has often been used for people NOT tipping on the full price of a bottle wine (the logic being if they got the $30 bottle or the $150 bottle the service is the same). I haven't seen it used for justifying an increase in the tip. I have yet to order a wine so extravagant on the list that I would hesitate to pay tip on the full amount (but I could see the debate when the bottle is costing 2 - 10x the cost of the food).
Appreciate all the advice folks,
I went ahead and purchased off of recommendations on this list (Riesling, Chardonnay, A white, and a Bubbly to start)
However, my only concern, considering that it is my first time bringing in wine, are that the wines aren't unique (expensive) enough, each range around $20-$30.
My main reasons of doing this are to take care of the wine costs as the host, we're fairly young and understand that some of the party may not want to end up spending more than $100 a person.
Do you think the restaurant would be offended in any way? I'm unsure if the wines are similar to those in the restaurant, perhaps I should order one at the restaurant as well? I know this isn't per se, but don't want to come off as rude or offensive.
Last question before i report back! Thnks!
Heck no they wouldn't be offended... $100 is nice cash to pocket for just opening your bottles and providing a few clean glasses.
JB you're well on your way to the fast-track of learning food and wine matching, which is your objective as expressed by your other post.
Just repeat this same gambit 5 or 10 times and you will have advanced much farther than alot of people who (like me) did it the hit and miss way.
This is key for your learning curve. Everyone who in your group wants maximum learning, keep one glass of EACH of the wines you're sampling in front of you. So, 4 bottles, there will be 4 glasses in front of you, each with one of the wines... and just sip each wine with each dish you're having and you'll quickly identify which enhance and which detract from the flavor of the food... make notes... preferably written notes...
BTW... what's the difference between a champagne and a bubbly ? :)
Please report back
I'd call the restaurant and ask their permission and discuss the situation. That will give them notice and calm any anxiety you may have.
I'd like to hear what others think, but I think keeping four glasses in front of you -- especially if this catches on with all 11 in your party -- is too much to ask. That could become 44 glasses, even before red wine. That would be OK for a wine-tasting dinner, but that's not the case here with this small, new restaurant trying to make it.
The restaurant would resent your party using that many glasses and you would be inappropriate to request that if you're bringing in wine.
Bringing in wine for a party of 11 seems excessive to me, but that's a personal opinion based on many years of working in the food and wine industry and the nature of this specific restaurant. BYOB for a party of two or four would be fine, with no call ahead.
And honestly, I think you may be missing out on good opportunities on the wine list -- in terms of reasonably-priced wines, wines that pair with the dishes on the menu, and wines that are special and "not-often-found" -- from everything I've read and heard.
But I understand concerns about your guests' budgets. Remember, you can always ask that the wines be placed on a separate tab. That's what I would do were I responsible for the wines for this party of 11 at this specific restaurant. I'd ask for guidance from the chef and server on which wines of a defined price range went well with a variety of dishes during your phone call prior to your visit.
re: maria lorraine
As for the glassware, we often face something similar, though usually for just us, as a couple. Many restaurants will only seat us at a full 4-top, a 6-top, or even an 8-top, as they know that we will most likely do the "Sommelier's Pairing," and have perhaps 10-12 glasses in front of us, before the evening is done.
When hosting a wine event out, we work hard to get a table that is large enough, though normally are only doing perhaps 4-5 wines per diner. Still, a lot of stemware. One needs plenty of table "real estate."
None of these are rules (it's just degree of accommodation).
- I wouldn't bring more than enough wine - I'd bring a little under (with 11 people you're probably looking at 5-6 bottles at most for the whole dinner unless everyone is looking to get really drunk), and then start ordering off the wine list.
- Involve your server in the experience. Explain the group is just starting exploring wine you are sampling a bunch - ask if he or she would like a taste of any of the bottles (or all of them). This often goes a long way (for me, about 50/50 they accept , but they are almost always appreciative of the offer).
I hope you've contacted the restaurant to let them know of your plans. when you're bringing in wine for that large a party, it's pretty imperative.
Also, I hope you've checked their wine list to ensure you are bringing wines that are NOT on their list. It's worse than just a faux pas to bring in any wine they are currently selling.
It's always a good idea to order a wine off the menu when you're bringing in wine, especially multi bottles.
I at least somewhat disagree with the idea that you shouldn't bring a wine that's on the house list or that it's even the diners duty to check the house list.
IF the corkage policy specifically prohibits bringing a house wine, then I 100% agree... but that's by no means a universal policy at every restaurant offering corkage.
I agree with June you should understand that aspect of the policy, if there's any prohibition against bringing a bottle they stock in house.
It's standard etiquette not to bring in wine that is on the restaurant's wine list.
Corkage Etiquette in Restaurants:
What to know when you want to BYO
WS: Do you feel that it is inappropriate to bring a wine that is on the restaurant’s current wine list?
FG: I do. I think that, if the wine is on the list, it should not be brought in. I have worked at restaurants where that was the case; we wouldn’t open bottles that were on the list.
WS: Is it important for people to call a restaurant before showing up with a bottle?
FG: In certain cases, yes—if they are not familiar with the policy and call to ask, or if it’s a larger group and they want to bring in something that exceeds the policy. Calling ahead is something I would say is definitely etiquette.
The Four Worst Restaurant Etiquette Gaffes
Think Twice Before Bringing Your Own Wine
Most of the time when customers bring in their own wine, it isn’t because they have a special vintage they wish to sample, but to save a buck, according to Einbund. Bring your own wine as a backup if you must, but at least look at the restaurant’s selection first. Once you’ve factored in a $15 corkage fee, a bottle from the wine list might be a better deal. “If you’re strapped for cash, I’ve got bottles for $19, and they’re really, really good wines,” says Einbund.
If you have a bottle you must bring, the classy way to do it is to call ahead to inquire about the corkage policy, Einbund explains. If it’s a Burgundy grand cru, offer the sommelier a glass. Losa asks patrons to limit how much they bring (no more than two bottles per table). And whatever you do, don’t expect the restaurant to waive the corkage fee.
re: maria lorraine
"I have worked at restaurants where that was the case; we wouldn’t open bottles that were on the list...."
Exactly... if that's their policy, fine.... they sure had better have advised that customer ahead of time. Imagine the horrible etiquette of refusing to open a customer's bottle if the restaurant didn't clearly indicate that policy when the customer made reservations and inquired about corkage...
corkage policies vary all over the board... expecting a consumer to review your wine list prior to bringing a bottle in IF YOU DON"T CLEARLY STATE SAME IN YOUR POLICY is frankly absurd.
This restaurant the OP plans to go to doesn't even provide their wine list online that I've been able to find. I'm not going to call them up and ask "do you have XYZ wine from the 2007 vintage?" I'll ask their policy and price, if they have any restrictions, and then follow it to the letter... there's nothing bad etiquette about that, and I've never ever had a problem with corkage in going on two decades.
Just one person's experience. To read these wine writers you would think corkage is an "etiquette minefield" with all kinds of hoops you have to jump through. They entirely miss the basics of corkage: to bring your personal ideal bottle to match with food you really respect. It is an HONOR for a restauranteur to have a serious wine collector bring his / her favorite bottle(s) to their restaurant. Most corkage-friendly venues recognize this and really want to attract the serious wine aficionado... corkage people tend to be loyal foodies and return again and again, often bringing friends in tow.
This is giving bad advice to our OP.
<<if that's their policy, fine.... they sure had better have advised that customer ahead of time. Imagine the horrible etiquette of refusing to open a customer's bottle if the restaurant didn't clearly indicate that policy when the customer made reservations and inquired about corkage...>>
As far as we know, the OP has NOT CALLED, and had a specific conversation about corkage policy, so this is off-base.
<<corkage policies vary all over the board... expecting a consumer to review your wine list prior to bringing a bottle in IF YOU DON"T CLEARLY STATE SAME IN YOUR POLICY is frankly absurd.>>
It's not absurd at all -- IT'S RESPECTFUL.
Again, the ONUS OF ETIQUETTE IS ON THE CONSUMER to inquire of the restaurant, so that any corkage policy may be communicated.
IT IS NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE RESTAURANT to post either the wine list or the corkage policy online.
<<This restaurant the OP plans to go to doesn't even provide their wine list online that I've been able to find. I'm not going to call them up and ask "do you have XYZ wine from the 2007 vintage?" >>
This is EXACTLY what you SHOULD do.
It is proper etiquette to call and say, "I'd like to bring in a bottle of wine tonight, and it's the 2007 XYZ. Is that a wine on your list?"
<<I'll ask their policy and price, if they have any restrictions, and then follow it to the letter...>>
Usually the restrictions are:
1. A bottle LIMIT, often two bottles per table.
2. That the wine NOT be on their list.
3. That the table PURCHASE a bottle for every bottle they bring in.
Furthermore, to bring wine for a party of ELEVEN crosses way over the line.
It might be acceptable with full approval by the restaurant, but
IT IS A HUGE TACTICAL ERROR TO DO SO WITHOUT RECEIVING PRIOR APPROVAL.
<<To read these wine writers you would think corkage is an "etiquette minefield" with all kinds of hoops you have to jump through.>>
Just like any situation in life, ETIQUETTE REQUIRES LEARNING
the customs of proper behavior.
Usually the rules are simple and based on MUTUAL RESPECT.
The OP inquired here on Chowhound, but did not ask the restaurant, at least so far.
<< They entirely miss the basics of corkage: to bring your personal ideal bottle to match with food you really respect. It is an HONOR for a restauranteur to have a serious wine collector bring his / her favorite bottle(s) to their restaurant. Most corkage-friendly venues recognize this and really want to attract the serious wine aficionado... >>
This is very inappropriate advice.
1. The OP is NOT a serious wine collector or a serious wine aficionado with "ideal" wines to match the food on the menu, so this advice is very off-base.
2. The restaurant would NOT feel it an HONOR for the customer to bring wine that is ALREADY on the list.
3. The restaurant would NOT feel it an honor for a host to cart in the wine for a party of ELEVEN people with
-- a. No prior approval or heads-up
-- b. No purchase off the wine-list
-- c. No review of the current wine list before bringing in wine.
What you have recommended here in this thread would cause resentment of the customer by the servers and the chef-owner that could affect the entire tenor of the meal.
<<The restaurant corkage people tend to be loyal foodies and return again and again, often bringing friends in tow.>>
Again, inappropriate advice for this specific situation.
This is a person who is NOT a corkage person. It's a beginner. That's why your advice is so off-base.
You have seriously done the Chowhound poster here a disservice. Your advice does not apply to this situation.
BYOW is a wonderful thing. It's appropriate in certain situations, for a party of two or four, especially when another bottle is purchased off the list.
But even then, it's PROPER ETIQUETTE TO INQUIRE FIRST to ascertain appropriateness.
Once a relationship with a restaurant has been established and the rules are known, the customer has a bit more leeway.
Your advice here in this thread would have caused our Chowhound OP to make several missteps.
re: maria lorraine
Maria, he says he's "been notified" of the policy. I assume this "notification" was from the restaurant itself, no?... If not of course he should call the venue, get the policy, any restrictions, and the NAME of the person he spoke to, that's it.
"I've done him a big disservice"... all this drama. I'm sharing my experience, and it's not yours to label a "disservice", sorry.
Look... call the venue, get the policy, follow the policy, enjoy your evening. It just is that simple. I've been where this poster is at... exactly there... And I'll be glad to recommend other venues for the poster right in his city... including BYOB venues I've been to with other Chowhounders...
I've NEVER had any of these problems you're describing. Back to basics... I'm following the policy. No restauranteur is going to object to that, it's his or her policy to begin with. they aren't going to expect me to follow some Emily Post addendum to their policy. It is what it is. Follow it and you'll have a great time.
There is no indication that our novice BYOW-er has contacted the restaurant directly, or informed the restaurant of his intention to bring in wine for a party of eleven.
It appears the conversation has been oblique at best and not concrete. But that's simply because our OP is new to this.
You have misguided him in terms of glassware, the specific nature of the actual conversation required, the host's responsibility vis a vis the restaurant's responsibility, the rules on bringing in wines off the list, the experience of the OP, and so forth.
Your last post above has been clearer than your prior posts, but several of your recommendations have been way, way off -- inappropriate and lacking adequate deference and proper etiquette for this specific situation and restaurant.
re: maria lorraine
"adequate deference and etiquette"...
we are in different worlds.. this is wine corkage, about as simple as it gets, not complicated etiquette.
Follow the policy, pay your bill, don't be disruptive to other guests, enjoy yourself, tip well... and come back... that's great etiquette in my world.
Yes, indeed, we are in different worlds.
I fear your advice in some areas has the potential to cause resentment in the servers or chef-owner, even possibly ruin the meal.
That's why I was compelled to speak up. I did not want our OP to blunder, especially when his clear intent is to proceed correctly.
re: maria lorraine
I didn't fully digest everything you've said, but I don't know that it's out of line to question what you seem to see as "etiquette".
You're saying here that it is the bringer's responsibility to assure that something is not on the list and that it is not a factor that the restaurant does not publish their list. Yet plenty of restaurants these days pointedly do not object to opening anything. The very article you link quotes the somm, from Marea as saying he will open anything BECAUSE they don't publish the list. Though I did note that he somehow manages to say that people shouldn't bring something on the list.
I'd actually say that all three of your "restrictions" are seldom that at all. Many restaurants have no such limit as two per table. Even Spago, who utilized that policy for a short period, has since abandoned it. Here in LA there are some with a two bottle limit but that is rare, especially for more than two people. Nor is it necessary to buy a bottle with each brought it. That's not logical as a requirement. What if you only want one bottle? The fee should fairly compensate the restaurant for lost revenue and the effort to serve. Why should one then feel the need to provide them with additional profit if they otherwise didn't feel inclined? For that matter I am sure that Marea's bottom-line is enhanced mugh more by serving two bottles of wine to a table for $100 than i that table just drank water. So why get in a ruffle over whether someone brings in a wine or what they bring?
I am not suggesting that the OP do anything and when in doubt call, but your conventions are not etched in stone.
As I said elsewhere I think it's not even a given that someone not bring a wine that's on the list. Yes, the waters are smoother if one chose to follow your "restrictions" but I don't think it's correct to assume that they are indeed restrictions. I would say that if these are your restrictions, you should stet them clearly when asked.
re: john gonzales
John: Not to mention the added profit the restaurant gets once they "hook" a good corkage customer. These customers tend to be well-heeled, generous, bring friends in tow, and drink and spend liberally.
I just don't understand why more venues don't have some sort of plan to reach the serious (and not-so-serious) wine drinker / collector. Even if it's just on off-nights.
My wife sells wine to restaurants for a living and we are very frequent diners out, with many wine dinners. I speak frankly with owners and somms about the corkage topic all the time. I'm not sure where you are but Cali. is pretty good about corkage and many places do use byo special nights etc as draws. It's very frequent that once our group goes to a place, bringing 1+ each for 4-12 people, we get encouraged to come back. That's without buying any wine, bringing whatever we want, and usually having a small portion of the corkage waived. They're smart enought to realize the revenue they are making from heavy ordering and moderate corkage, and that at other times we all might come in and bring others on other occasions.
The biggest misconception that establishments, and especially somms, make is that they have simply lost the profit they might have made on the bottles had one purchased them off the list. That might be the case with some patrons, but not most and definitely not my group.
re: john gonzales
John: thanks alot for sharing your experience, I'm sure it will help others.
I'm very passionate about the topic of corkage and have recommended it frequently on these boards. I've probably learned more about food and wine, faster and at lower overall cost in time and money through corkage than anything else. Not that there aren't other very good routes to take.
BTW, to your last point about owner / somm perceptions, I've noticed that corkage fees and policies tend to fall into one of about 5 categories:
1: Bring what you like, we don't care, nominal charge. $10-15 range
2: Bring what you like, we don't care, not so nominal charge. $20-25
3: Bring what you like, we do care and want to discourage it. Above $25
4: Bring a bottle if we don't have it, not so nominal charge. Usually run $25 and up.
5: We discourage BYOB, but to please a segment of the market we allow it, if we don't have it, and the charge is enough to discourage it. I've been quoted ridiculous rates here... $50 and up.
6: BYOB not allowed
7: "Variants"... one I got kick out of had a BYOB-friendly policy (category 1) of around $10 or 15, BUT if the wine was more than 15 years old, it was free! I really appreciated that place, that they valued the active collector.
The reason I list these categories is that the newbie will quickly begin to develop their own sense of what the friendliness is just talking with the reservationist... the price, the restrictions... you'll pick up on these categories pretty quickly.
I generally agree with those categories, Chicago Mike/Tombstone.
But these distinctions between categories are not to be arrived at "on the fly," as you have suggested.
Many of your suggestions here have been highly irregular and inappropriate. I think this is borne out of your enthusiasm for BYOW -- an enthusiasm I share -- but your suggestions have a "bull in a china shop" approach that would not be appropriate for many, perhaps most, restaurant dining situations.
And I'm in the food and wine business, and have dined at and consulted with restaurants all over the world. I love BYOW, but each restaurant makes its own rules, and again, it is up to the diner to learn those rules before arriving at the restaurant. This is to avoid blunders or awkwardness.
It is best to tread lightly until the rules are known. Some of your suggestions lack sensitivity.
re: john gonzales
<<My wife sells wine to restaurants for a living and we are very frequent diners out, with many wine dinners.>>
John, but you see, yours is not the standard situation.
Your wife's professional affiliation makes your situation quite different from the average diner.
Your wife's in the wine business. You are a frequent diner out. The restaurants may know you or your wife's wine company. Even if they do not, you are considered to be "in the business." You may frequent one or several restaurants that knows of your wife's professional affiliation, and that grants you special courtesies not extended to those not in the restaurant/wine business.
You cannot use your own experience as a barometer for everyone because of your wife's professional affiliation.
Even in your or your wife's professional capacity, the *courteous* thing to do is to call the restaurant, explain your professional affiliation, inquire about the protocols for that specific restaurant, and make any special requests.
re: maria lorraine
Agreed for the most part. I certainly tried to advise the OP to call first and proffered that much of what you suggest "smooths the waters". I was definitely drifting into territory that was beyond his original situation.
Though SOME of it is applicable, and I don't think my situation necessarily is the sole basis for what I'm saying.
Though being in/around the trade and doing byo dinners once a week, probably means I'm familiar with the dynamics.
There are a lot of times when we try to not predisclose a business affiliation. It's often not worth getting into a tit-for-tat thing, getting a favor and owing a favor. But yes, many times the people DO extend us courtesies. There are times when we bring a dozen bottles and don't pay, but I try to not apply those experiences to my general expectations or beliefs about how corkage operates.
We may just be differing in that I believe what you suggest is the MOST polite, I just don't concur that it is NOT polite to do differently. Again, I am not talking about all of what you suggest or saying that one should not call.
I was talking about things like feeling the need to buy one to bring one. That obviously works best for the restaurant, but it just is not always practical and in general muddles being able to come to an equation where bringing a bottle is mutually agreeable without requiring complication by other variables.
re: john gonzales
<<You're saying here that it is the bringer's responsibility to assure that something is not on the list >>
Yes, it is. Or to know the policy specifically. This is standard.
<<Yet plenty of restaurants these days pointedly do not object to opening anything. >>
Yes, but that needs to be ascertained directly.
<<I'd actually say that all three of your "restrictions" are seldom that at all.>>
Those restrictions are exceptionally common. I'm a veteran in the food and wine industry.
Even if those restrictions are not operative, that needs to be checked with the restaurant beforehand. If the policy is stated online, great. If not, the onus of responsibility is on the diner to find out.
<<Many restaurants have no such limit as two per table.>>
I find it a very common rule, and I BYOW very often. This is a topic often discussed in my business. Moreover, I researched the issue and general etiquette before writing on this thread.
Not just the Marea article but several articles, to confirm what I already knew to be the case.
<<Nor is it necessary to buy a bottle with each brought it. That's not logical as a requirement.>>
John, this is a very common restriction in BYOW policy.
<<So why get in a ruffle over whether someone brings in a wine or what they bring?>>
Oh, it's not me. It's the restaurant, and I work everyday with sommeliers, chefs and wineries.
<<As I said elsewhere I think it's not even a given that someone not bring a wine that's on the list.>>
This is probably the most common request made by restaurants of their guests who wish to BYOW. That's why the diner must check with the restaurant.
Perhaps that's your experience, but it's certainly not mine nor that of many others....
Here's a list of well over 100 corkage-friendly restaurants in NYC compiled by corkers in NYC.... exactly where the OP is planning to do his corkage safaris...
Note those restaurants stating "nothing on the list" are actually at a minority:
Here's a list with over 200 entries on the topic of "Restaurants with NO corkage fees" (i.e. free to BYOB) in NYC!
Welcome to the wide world of corkage... enjoy!
Those are helpful lists, but they are far from being an accurate reflection of what an individual restaurant's corkage policy is.
Corkage policies change often, Restos often decide corkage only applies on certain evenings like from Monday through Thursday, that it applies only if another bottle from the wine list is purchased, and that it only applies to one or two bottles.
You should never assume any corkage list is accurate -- it may be old, policies have changed, etc.
The point being -- which you seem not to apprehend -- is that corkage is a courtesy extended as a favor to the diner, and the resto has every right to limit that courtesy as they see fit.
You seem to believe that corkage is your right, rather than a favor being extended to you.
There's a huge qualitative difference between the two.
Etiquette still says the diner must check before assuming any policy about corkage is in effect, even those stated on those lists to which you have linked, or any list.
Your posts have repeatedly communicated that you do not believe such corkage etiquette exists, or that you are exempt from that etiquette.
re: maria lorraine
my posts are based on my personal experience with corkage... apparently your experience has found corkage to be steeped in a tricky labyrinth of etiquette expectations, I haven't found that at all...
I would recommend anyone unfamiliar with corkage to read through the over 100 listings in the first link provided above, and over 200 listings in the second one... the comments from the posters will give you very good real world feedback as to how these restaurants welcome (or don't welcome) corkers.
Your posts clearly reflect your views and what would be perceived as "pushing it" by many restaurants. Corkage rules are set by the restaurants -- they are not "theory" by any means.
But I am gratified to see you have backed off on some of your earlier suggestions that would cause the diner to be considered rude.
Not sure if you're referring to the following lists or not:
The NY Corked list:
As for this list being "Old", it is Copyright 2013 and if you hit the "changes" button you will see they make regular updating edits to it. In fact, they have edited and updated the list no less than 13 times this year! NY Corked is a group of very active corkage diners in New York... how is it "not in the best interest of the OP" to connect with such a group if he's in NYC and interested in corkage dining?
Then here's the second list from Yelp... over 200 restaurants offering low or no corkage fees:
As for Yelp being "old", ... it is updated whenever someone posts to it... if you have a newer list, please provide, I think that would be a wonderful contribution to the OP and to readers generally...
re: maria lorraine
<<Those are helpful lists, but they are far from being an accurate reflection of what an individual restaurant's corkage policy is.
Corkage policies change often,>>
While I very seldom have even considered doing BYOW, there have been cases, when I have. In nearly every case, it was at a restaurant, that we frequent. In each case, the evening was special, as was the wine. In most of those cases, the BYOW policy was either a very high corkage, or a "cannot be done." In each of those cases, we were allowed our "special" bottle(s), and no corkage was ever charged. In two, we were in a back dining room, so some local laws might have been broken, but no one said anything. In each case, I either called, or spoke directly to the Sommelier, the GM, or the owner.
Now, when a restaurant, that does not allow BYOW, and consequently has no corkage charge, allows me to bring in special wines, policies are either changed, or broken.
The "secret," to me, is seldom, special and a call, or visit, well beforehand.
Yeah at some point I guess Jason and Maria just have different experiences and while there's no sense questioning the veracity of such, it just isn't the case here in LA. I'd be willing to bet that within a day I could easily find multiple Bay Area restaurants that will open bottles on their lists.
I can think of 20 places in L.A. that don't make the restriction that a wine must not be on their list. There's even proof in Maria's posted article about Marea, wherein they say they'll open anything and explain why. I've brought wine there and know that's the case.
A classic example that comes to mind for me is Dom. I bring Dom to places quite a bit. Look, once the restaurant comes to any understanding of the fact that I am not Bill Gates, a hip-hopper, or on a hedge-fund expense account; they know that there is no way I am going to buy a bottle of Dom. A large part of this is that many places without extremely deep lists put a higher than normal premium on Dom and it might run $350 for current vintage. Fine price your Dom to slaughter the whales, but be realistic and don't then begrudge someone who is savvy from not buying it. Once I'm not going to buy it, and if you don't have a reasonably priced substitute, then just charge me and let me drink mine. Which is what MANY places do. One could posit that served discretely (and I typically hand it over upon arrival) having my Dom at the table might even boost their overall wine sales. Regardless of our debate over whether these are rules and how common they are, I would love to discuss the rational basis for them.
That is where I am admittedly a bull-in-the-china shop. Once i develop a repoire with an owner somm I make no hesitation in discussing my POV. I'll make every attempt to tell someone why I think their wine program is flawed IMO. Of course they have the right to do whatever they want, and others have a different POV, but they're there to make money not act like we're at the cotillion. I will also say that the dynamic of the somms responsibility (list creation, mark-ups etc.) and compensation (often on wine sales not general sales) CAN create a different attitude and dynamic for them
Maria, I have a pretty good grasp on corkage policies in L.A. and we go to a lot of different establishments. Fwiw there is a good local list at:
I can honestly say that I do not know, among the hunred+ policies I've inquired about, of a single restaurant whose policy requires that a bottle be bought in order to bring a bottle. There are a lot of places that will waive one corkage fee if one bottle is bought but, while that communicates the establishment's preference that one buy, is a different point. The are letting you scated on whatever one fee is to buy a bottle, largely because they know that serving a byo wine costs them very little in actual labor and it really is about the profit they MIGHT have gained on the first bottle. At the same time they realize that many bringers will not bother to order a bottle so they are trying to incentivize a purchase that might not otherwise be made.
One thing I can guarantee is that corkage rules are coming into play more and being streamlined to remove the b.s. etiquette factor. In large part because establishments are coming to realize that a byo is not necessarily costing them the profit on an identical wine purchase, and generates other positive revenue streams to their bottom line. Which largely is their purpose for existence.
I build houses. I typically will allow clients to purchase their own appliances. I install them for a labor fee and make small appropriate handling fees. In the old days I would not do it, and I would prefer to mark someone's appliances up 20% as they are big ticket items and a good profit base as compared to lumber. But I realize the dynamics of the a changed economy and awareness in my customers. I also realize that I can make it work for me. I might get customers or additional work I might not otherwise get. I reduce my own capital requirements and liability. I set a labor and handling cost that works and don't get personal about it or rely on etiquette. Once I set my policy I don't get pissy about it when the situation arises where I don't make maximum profit. Set a simple corkage fee that works and deal with it. It's dumb to make customers peruse lists, when in the end it does not increase the profit of the restaurant.
re: john gonzales
I agree that corkage policies are changing everywhere, but the change is occurring in all directions -- more liberal corkage *and* more restrictive corkage.
Restaurants enacted corkage policies that greatly favored the customer greatly the past few years during the downturned economy. However, some of the former more restrictive rules are being put into place again now that the economy is improving.
At the same time, more restaurants are allowing corkage, but most impose limits on doing so.
I do think relaxed policies on corkage are a wonderful thing. But the point of this entire thread is NOT TO ASSUME CORKAGE POLICIES ARE WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO THEM TO BE, but rather what the restaurant deems them to be. You need to ask each restaurant, preferably ahead of time. When you're a regular at a place, that's different.
I love that your brought Dom Perignon to a restaurant, John but that's a special bottle and so the restaurant may get special benefit (looks, oohs, awes, Champagne sales) from opening it. I get your point, but bringing in Dom is not a representative example of a bottle that might be brought in. There's a huge difference between bringing in Dom and bringing in KJ Chard or Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio.
In that case of those wines, or wines of that level, the resto may refuse to allow your bottle, or open it and charge you the price on the wine list (even without telling you since you didn't bother to check), or may open it begrudgingly, think you're a rube but never mention your misstep to you, but ding you in service. None of those situations are win-win.
re: maria lorraine
From an economic standpoint, explain to me the difference between me bringing in Dom or bring in S.Marg PG? Lets consider your Marea example. A Dom bringer could as an alternative be assumed to buy the dom off their list which would result in $300 more profit for them. Though as I've said that purchase is very unlikely. Otherwise even if it were not Dom they might buy a $125 bottle, perhaps costing an $80 ding to profit.
One has to consider how the S.Marg bringer would behave. They could buy that off the list for $60, costing a $40 ding to profit. One might ask why Marea would logically care if they lose $40 in profit and charge $50 in corkage?
Or very likely they order a glass off the list or diet coke. In either case the "loss" to the restaurant is more if I bring in Dom. This also ignores the fact that there are some people who are of an economic means that dictate that they can't/won't even dine at Marea unless they can bring some wine or drink diet coke. Most restaurants still need diners that don't bring them large beverage profits.
Personally I didn't sy that the policy should be as I want it. I also understand that corkage is not a right and for my own purposes don't need to make that part of any debate. But what you said earlier is that there were understood rules beyond the stated, and that it perhaps it is not the establishment's responsibility to advise the diner if queried.
I think that is poor business practice, even in my own business. I don't leave things up to some perceived notion of "etiquette". If you want to deny something that is on your list, say so on your website or when called. To then as I said "get pissy" or as you say do something begrudgingly or consider the patron rude is just lame. I do try to avoid such circumstances but they peak up and I have no reservation about pointedly discussing it with the establishment. If someone charged my the list price for a wine without telling me ahead of time, on the menu or verbally before opening it, I would not pay. Legally I'd have no obligation to do so. Corkage terms may be a privelege but that does not give restaurants carte blanche. I'm at a restaurant to have a meal, but it is also a business arrangement. They don't get to set the terms as if they've invited me to their house for dinner. I would discuss the correctness of such a policy with the management. Hopefully they would change it. Sure it would be nice to avoid such situations but that is in fact the problem with taking the stance that the establishment need not be simple and upfront with a policy. It just isn't that hard.
I had a situation at the restaurant of a Top Chef winner. We had been before but asked about the current policy when we made the ressie for eight people. They advised us that the "new" corkage fee was $25. We arrived planning to all do the ull tasting menu with a bottle of very good wine each. This is our M.O., including at this place. The somm. informed us that the new policy was either two or four total. Which in itself is dumb, because there is a big difference between two bottles or two people and two bottles or eight people. But anyway, we were not having any part of abiding by the "new" policy. I will say that they agreed to an exception, but not without trying to get us to relent and accept it. When they did agree, I think that as you said they did so begrudgingly. Whatever. Take some responsibility for making your policy/belief clear to the diner especially when called. I told the guy that there was no way we would be there had they told us the policy and not agreed to waive it. I also told him that our group, both those there that night and a larger group of winos who congregate around town wouldn't be able to come and do these large dinners there if such was the case. That we are all big collectors bringing wine better than almost all the stuff on the list. Rather than selling us more wine via the policy, they'd lose most of our business altogether. So I think he considered what we ordered, what we brought, and how we behaved and by the end of the night decided to extend the invitation or us to make arrangements for exceptions. Money talks, and he would have lost net business had he not done otherwise.
Sometimes one has to have some discussions to cut through the mistaken perceptions involved with corkage.
Lastly, I agree with you that published lists are not completely accurate. However, based additionally on vast experience, there are not restaurants in L.A. that require a wine purchase to bring one and very few that have two bottle limits.
I agree that corkage policies have expanded in part due to the economy. I don' think the winelist economy is going to return to the 2005 climate anytime soon. The restaurant wine business has changed.
As far as corkage goes I think the advancement of wine in general has made for the change to be toward liberal policies on a permanent scale. even if some places will remain punitive. People are much more in tune with wine prices these days and what is reasonable as a list price. There are also many more people with small collections.
I partially agree with you. I certainly think one should ask what the corkage "policy" is beyond the "fee". If a restaurant really cares they should tell you not to bring anything on the list. If they tell you that, then one bears the burden of checking the list or asking about a particular wine. Many restaurants don't care what one brings, even if it's on the list. I guess not bringing something that is on the list is the safer route guaranteed not to ruffle feathers, and again I always call, but I don't buy the automatic "standard etiquette" point and don't really agree with basis. I in fact had a major blow-up with a local high-end restauranteur over it.
I called the restaurant and asked the corkage policy. The person that answered said $20 per. I asked if there were any other stipulations and she told me "no bring whatever you want at $20 per." I brought a bottle of moderately aged high-end cal cab that the couple joining me had given us as part of a wedding gift. Shortly after we were seated, the chef/owner came over and told me that it was a great bottle of wine, but that he would not open it as it was on the list. I explained to him what I was told and that had there been a concern I would have confirmed my selection. I also told him that I had no intention of buying the wine for $400 off the list, and that we all planned to have his most extensive tasting menu. But if he compromised I would upgrade my white selection to a $125 bottle rather than a $60 bottle. At that point I told him both my wife and guest were in the wine business, pointed to our car and told him I could easily walk out there and pull a $40 retail sample bottle out of the trunk, he would make less wine money on wine, and we would have a lesser experience. No go. It's been eight years and we've never gone back to a place that we probably would have hit a dozen times. I've also had a place tell me they wouldn't open a 15 year-old first-growth because they had the five year-old version on their list.
Of course I was trying to save a buck (or $300) by not purchasing my cab off their list. But they weren't losing the $300, they were losing the revenue from the $100 red I would have bought, and that revenue is the same regardless of which bottle I choose to bring. So considering it bad form to bring in order to save money is just dumb.
re: john gonzales
Appreciate the different views. Althought the restaurant did not post the wine list online, I went on and visited to get a copy to ensure that I wasn't bringing anything exactly on their list.
As stated, these bottles of wine aren't unique or extravagant by any stretch of the imagination so I didn't want to be rude in any way. I definitely see both sides to the picture in this case and wanted to be on the safer side.
The reviews say the wine list is reasonably priced, so ordering from it might be a good option instead of BYOB.
The chef is from Portugal and many of the dishes are influenced by Portugal and Spain, so I'd anticipate good wine buys in both red and white from Spain, the Basque region, France and Portugal. I'd certainly try to find the best of what's on the list rather than limiting yourself to standard varietals that you bring in.
By any chance, are you doing the Prix Fixe on Monday night that is BYOB? The chef is well-known for his Supper Club menus.
Will you have any control over the dishes ordered or will your guests be ordering from a set menu?
The Chef plays with all sorts of cuisines and frequently invents dishes on the fly, so expect to see dishes not on the online menu.
The plates are often small so you might not be able to dial in pairings more than having a versatile red and white wine that each covers a lot of territory. Make sure that red is covered as well as white wine -- the lamb, I've read several times, is excellent. The gnocchi gets raves in almost every review.
If you decide to BYOB, the math that Maximillien has given you is correct. To that, I'd add that the restaurant may have selections that you are unable to purchase outside the restaurant. Buying wine at the restaurant (especially if they're reasonably priced) will save you the trouble of purchasing the wines ahead of time and carting them to the restaurant. You can always call the restaurant ahead of time to discuss what would be the best to proceed.
There are many writeups of Louro on Chowhound, with reviews of dishes and wines. Read them here:
This thread, in particular, talks about BYOB to Louro:
More on Louro -- Chef Reacts to Louro Review
re: maria lorraine
Not much to add.
I don't know that you should be conflicted about byob, but if you are you can smooth the waters by buying a bottle off the restaurant's list. requently we'll by a reasonably priced white and bring reds. Though most times we byob, pay the corkage, always order a lot, and tip well.
If you end up liking the corkage/byo route, I notice that La Sirene was mentioned in one of the linked threads. I really like La Sirene, especially for some byo action and cassoulet. Apiary also has a free corkage night which combined with their prix fixe can make for a nice wine/food evening.
Right wines: Hands down, done deal, if you don't bring at least Riesling and Chardonnay for this menu you're committing a wine crime :) Riesling matches your tempura, fritters, piri piri, tortellini, spanish mackerel, turnips & berries, tangerine scallops, and thai red snapper... Chardonnay matches your mushroom, lettuces, scallops, bass, duck egg, octopus, artichoke, chicken....
So, IMO, riesling and chardonnay really dominate and weave throughout this menu... they will really enhance your flavors. That leaves the outliers: Duck I'd go with pinot (or pinot n. champagne), short ribs and lamb shoulder any rich red (cabernet would prolly be 1st choice). Unless you plan to have the short ribs or lamb shoulder there's really no reason for a red wine with this menu. The duck dishes are just "bites" and don't justify bringing a pinot really... the chardonnay would probably cover them decently.
Would $25 corkage save you $$$? Of course that depends on what the price of the wine on the menu is. Figure a good bottle of riesling will cost you $15 to 20+ and a great bottle 25 to 35. So you're at 40 to 50+ with the corkage. If they have a passable riesling on their menu for under that then it pays to just buy theirs. The real benefit is say they either have a mediocre bottle or NO riesling then I'm absolutely bringing mine. Usually with a $25 corkage I would tend to buy the house riesling.
Chardonnay is a similar story, but better bottles run higher than riesling, so even at $25 I'm generally favoring corkage, again it just depends on what you can buy & pay corkage vs. what's on their list.
I can't pull up their wine list online, otherwise I could tell pretty quickly whether corkage or in-house makes more sense. Bottom line, don't sweat it, go to your local wine purveyor, have them choose some super bottles in your price range and just pay the $25, who cares... that way you know you're getting something good.
Ahhh... just saw your notes "wine list starts at $50"... I think I'm probably doing the corkage here then... I can buy an amazing riesling for $20-25 + 25 corkage, I'm having awesome wine for $45 vs. their mediocre bottle at $50 plus... that's the math.
BTW, given the abundance of apps and small plates matching whites (riesling and chard in this case), I'd go with main courses also matching those wines: the fish, the chicken, rather than getting the lamb or ribs which then you have to switch to a red and is the cost justified for just that one dish. OTOH, there are 11 of you, so if even 3 or 4 of you have one of those dishes, 2 glasses of red each and you've finished the better part of a bottle of red... so to be smart you really have to sort of calculate ahead of time how many persons are getting which dishes, so you bring ample wine. You can of course always supplement your corkage bottles with a house bottle or a few house glasses if only one person has those outlier dishes.
You're set... go, eat, enjoy... Report back.
Specific bottles... that's so vast and varies by city and vendor...
Better to focus on vintage year(s) and then ask your local purveyor what they have in that year. In riesling the sweet spot right now is are 2009's from the Mosel region. There's plenty of 2009's on the shelf right now and at 3+ years they are at perfect early maturity. For this meal I'd look for a kabinett from this vintage.
In Chardonnay I'm assuming that will be from california and the vintage quality varies so much by region that you're best asking your local wineshop what are the best bottles for your price range.
If all of the party of 11 drinks substantially, you'll probably go through five bottles. I'd bring 2 red (Pinot Noir is a pretty safe bet and goes with a lot of things) and one white (riesling or sauvingon blanc).
By the glass, is almost always a rip-off at restaurants, but if you are planning to order bottles at the restaurant that actually may be cheaper than bringing your own.
Usually, you get better VALUE bringing your own wine IF your bottle is at least the price of the corkage fee (e.g. $25 +). Better value does not mean cheaper - there may very well be bottles on their list that go for $40.
If your friends are into wine, they'll appreciate enjoying a bottle that would be say $70 on the wine list (or if it's a poor wine list would never be on it at all) but they're getting to enjoy it for $55.
On the other hand, if your friends are not into wine - I'm sure they'd just rather go with whatever is cheapest and it may not be worth the effort to bring your own bottles.
Thank you all for the responses.
I believe that the wine list starts at ~$50 and goes up to several hundred dollars. The corkage fee is indeed $25 per bottle with no limit.
The drinkers are several young ladies not sophisitcated in terms of wine at all, so I would assume something with low tannins may suit their taste.
I'd flip the white and red (bring 2 white bottles and one red). Pinot noir is very low in tannins for red, as is Beaujolais.
For whites there's legion of varieties. I'd suggest one more sour/lemon lime to troipical fruity (e.g. Vinho Verde (appropriately portuguese), pinot grigio, or sauvignon blanc) and one other - either with a bit of sweetness (riesling, chenin blanc) or a round/oily/buttery feel (chardonnay, white rhones, soave).