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Gratuity on BYOB wine?

I am not really good at drinking and I normally have only a glass of champagne or two when I dine out. Next month, however, I plan to take a special bottle of wine costing about $650, to a favorite high end restaurant of mine. (I will dine alone, so I will probably have to share it a lot with the staff since I can not drink that much alone... LOL)

The restaurant will charge corkage fee, and I fully underdstand I should pay normal gratuity of over 20% to 30% on the final bill of food and corkage fee. My question is, how much gratuity am I supposed to pay on the $650 BYOB wine? Should I pay 20% tip on $650 as well, on top of the 20-30% tip on food and corkage fee?

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  1. Good lord, you are not "supposed to" in my opinion, tip on the value of a bottle. I am a wine collector and don't tip wait staff on the current market value of my wines. I only pay a tip on corkage fee and the food. No way does the wait staff expect you to percentage out the tip based on the cost of a high end bottle of wine. Leave a generous tip (the higher end of reasonable) because corkage fees are less than a bottle purchased there (typically) and let everyone that wants a taste, have a taste.

    1. IMO the value of the wine doesn't figure into it. But I might tip more than 30% of the corkage fee, depending: Is the corkage fee reasonable? If it is sky high, no. But if they are making a nice accommodation for a regular customer, I would be more generous, 50-100% of corkage. Also, what are they providing in the way of service, stemware etc.? If they are decanting an old red with sediment, then pouring it into Riedel which is clean and odor-free to my standards, I would tend toward the 100%-of-corkage range. Pull and pour into Anchor, somewhat less. It really depends on how well I felt I was being taken care of.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mwhitmore

        Sounds good to me.

        As several have said, the tip on a BYOW bottle, should NOT be based on the value/cost of the wine - but on the corkage, with bonus points on service, IMHO.


      2. This is going to be fun. The opinions on tipping here are so varied that I can't wait to see what happens.

        For me the answer is tip on the corkage fee only, assuming it is a substantial amount ($20+) OR, if you feel you received excellent wine service, add an extra $10 or so. JMHO.

        1. " I will dine alone, so I will probably have to share it a lot with the staff since I can not drink that much alone..."

          They should tip you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bobbert

            <<(I will dine alone, so I will probably have to share it a lot with the staff since I can not drink that much alone... LOL)>>

            We are often faced with similar, and try to share.

            Some years ago, we were staying at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, just a few blocks from Merriman's, where we were dining.

            It was some sort of celebration (birthday, or anniversary), so we were "going deep" in the wine cellar. About the time that we ordered the third bottle, our server commented that she had seen those wines on the list, but had never served any of them to any diner.

            It was a very rainy night, and we were shutting down the restaurant. We invited her to join us with three glasses. I poured a Meursault, a Montrachet, and a Gevrey-Chambertain, and asked her to taste them. I think that she enjoyed herself, and along with our tip for great service, got three tastes of wines, that she was unfamiliar with.

            Since we DID have to head back for a few blocks, it was not a loss, at any level, to us.


          2. I would work on the basis of however tips are calculated wherever you are in the world.

            Where I am, a tip or service charge is based on what you have spent with the restaurant and nothing else. I assume that the corkage charge will be a listed item and, as such, that's what I would tip on.

            1. The corkage fee goes to the restaurant and 'reimburses' them for the cost of service (glassware, etc) and lost profit on tha sale of alcohol. None of it 'reimburses' the server for the lost tip opportunity on the sale of alcohol.
              That said, if I would normally order a bottle of wine, and instead chose to brign my own bottle, I would tip the server on the wine list price of a low-mid range bottle. Since you are dining alone, and the chances are the server will not pour more than two glasses for your consumption, between $5 and 10 added to your tip for the check should be adequate.

              1. There is NO gratuity due or expected on the wine you bring. Corkage fee goes to the house your gratuity is based on a total which includes tv at fee so the server is compensated for bringing you the glass and opening the bottle and pouring the wine. You want to do something "special" pass him a $5/$10 bill once he opens and pours it. That would be more than enough.

                FYI I just checked and I am free everyday next month, just in case you want company!

                1. What is the corkage fee (if I missed that, I apologize)?

                  Though not often doing BYOW, I have done it, in situations, like yours. With a call ahead, I have never had any corkage fee included on my bill. However, for special treatment of a '48 Taylor-Fladgate VP, the sommelier got US $ 50 in his hand, and then I tipped my normal 20 - 25% on the food, and other wines, bill. He also was invited to the table, with his glass of the Taylor, for a toast to my wife.

                  I had purchased that bottle for about US $600, way back when, and the guest list sort of increased. I wanted the sommelier, the chef, the owner and his father (founder of the restaurant), to join us. One 0.75 was almost not enough, but by then, an extra bottle was US $2400. The sommelier decanted, and then made great pours. Everyone got one copita, and my wife two. Now, for the rest of the meal, we probably had US $3000 in wine, and US $2000 in food. The tip was on the total bill, without my Taylor.

                  I do not know if that helps, but in your case, I would slip the sommelier a US $20, and if they waived the corkage charge, bump that up to US $30.

                  Most of all, enjoy,


                  1. Thanks everyone for kind and helpful comments/ advices.

                    The corkage charge is $65.

                    So I guess I will pay normal gratuity on food + corkage, and perhaps an additional gratuity equivalent to 100% of corkage charge, which is $65. Should I give a $10 or $20 bill to the sommelier as well?

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: kosmose7

                      That depends on the quality of the service.

                      Considering a US $65 corkage, I would probably hand over US $15 for good service, and maybe US $20 for great service.

                      Just my thinking on this,


                      1. re: kosmose7

                        You would be ovetipping, IMHO. If the server brings the glass, opens your bottle and piurs, there is no reason to tip the sommelier. If Sommelier does these things, hand him a $10 and $10 to the server. Giving $65 would be as if you were tipping 20% on a $325 bottle you didn't purchase>OVERKILL

                        1. re: kosmose7

                          $65 CORKAGE??????? I think that's the highest fee I've ever heard of........ even ever read about. Oh, do tell where that is.

                          Uh oh, Google found FL is $75 and Per Se, Masa, and Doucasse's place (all 3 in NYC) are even higher. Sheesh!!

                          1. re: Midlife

                            Bear in mind that high end places, worldwide, do not generally make vast profits from food sales. But they do make vast profits from drinks - hence high corkage chage if they're not selling their own.

                            1. re: Harters

                              High is one thing. $75-$95????? Can't help feeling that's just to discourage BYOB, though that IS consistent with that being where the profit is. OTOH, pre-fixe dinner at French Laundry is close to $300 per person. They can't make decent profit on that?

                              1. re: Midlife

                                There are quite a few restaurants in CA and NYC that charge $75 and more for corkage. They obviously are trying to discourage BYOB. There are even some restaurants that do not permit corkage at any price

                                1. re: Midlife


                                  I agree - it is to deter patrons FROM doing BYOW. It would certainly work on me! Or, they might just feel that any patron, who would pay a corkage fee in their restaurant, is flush with $, so why not help themselves to some of that?

                                  Now, not being a BYOW person, when I have, I have always cleared things ahead of time, and almost always with the sommelier. In no case, have I been charged any corkage fee, BUT those have all been at restaurants, where I am a regular, and also where we were hosting a party. Even in some areas of the US, where BYOW is not really allowed, I have skirted that state/municipality/county policy, "under the radar."

                                  Now, I do usually provide tastes for the sommelier, the owner and if different, the chef.


                              2. re: Midlife

                                Seriously, at $65 corkage, I'd get my food to go and enjoy the bottle at home. But I'm cheap.

                              3. re: kosmose7

                                At $65, I would tip 30% on the total bill. I tip higher % when dining solo. Only if it were decanted and poured into Reidel Vinum or equivalent would I duke the wine waiter. IMO.

                                1. re: mwhitmore

                                  Very much into word usage. No idea what "DUKE the wine waiter" means. Help?

                                  Also............... so you'd add an additional 50% of the more traditional 20% tip rate for corkage service (30% vs. 20%)? If your bill were $300, you'd tip $90 vs. $60, so $30 extra, or almost HALF the corkage? I'd call that very generous, but it's your choice.

                                  Do you tip higher when alone because you feel the server could be serving more people with almost the same effort? I tend to agree with that too.

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      Really? Where? Grew up in NYC and lived most of my life in CA. Have never heard that usage.

                                      1. re: Midlife

                                        I was born and live in Conecticut. I learned this term from my late father who was born in Brooklyn in 1922, educated in Brookyn Public Schools and then both Townsend Harris High School and City College in Manhattan.

                                        I have heard it the term used by many of his generation both in NY and CT. I remember a discussion when golfing with dad back around 1970 as guests at a country club (not the one we belonged to). My father asked the host what does the caddy get? The host replied 'duke him a sawbuck.' Translation: give the caddy a $10 tip.

                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          Funny. Was born in the Bronx, and lived in Queens through high school, and never heard it. Could have been too young or had different family experience.

                              4. i would tip 20% on the price you would have paid for a mid-priced bottle of wine from the restaurant's wine list.

                                (in many cases, the corkage fee equals the price of a mid-priced bottle of wine from the wine list)