I was just wondering if many of you use this service and when you dine in a moderate restaurant..Do you bring in your own bottle when you know they won't have anything as good in quality? I am kinda tired of ordering glasses of wine marked up and getting cheap stuff.

Or do you only bring it in when you know the restaurant does not serve this label?...or do you still bring it in when you know the restaurant does serve the same label at 4X the price?

I personally have not done this yet and feel kinda funny about it. I was wondering if there is some kind of etiquette code involved in the use of this service, although I know it does cost a nominal fee.

Thanks, GwenieO
Original Post
I BYO 80% of the time now. I do it not to really save money (although it does). I enjoy bringing my good wines that I know are not on their list and that I want to have in a formal setting. A few of the hosts love tasting different labels too. I do not like most wine lists, as most are not diversified or are seriously lacking in older vintages.

Always call first (obviously) and I always bring something I know they don't have. Some have THAT as a policy (which I completely agree with). I never Walk in with a Seghesio Sonoma, Simi Cab or even a Silver Oak.

Where are you from? Maybe some members from your area here can give you a few places and how they handle it.
There is not really any etiquette code, but as Hunter had mentioned, some restaurants don't want you bringing a bottle they have on their list. Corkage fees vary from somewhere around $5 to $20/bottle with the highest corkages being in Las Vegas being over $20/bottle. Restaurants claim they charge corkage because they have to serve you the wine and provide stemware and all the costs associated with it. Sometimes you offer your server or sommelier a taste of your wine and they waive the corkage fee...although this hasn't yet happen to me at a BYOB place.
gwen, i saw you posted about dining in pasadena recently, so might i direct you to cafe bizou there(also 1 in sherman oaks and 1 in santa monica), where the food is MORE than decent and their corkage policies are VERY friendly, and at a cost of a mere $2 per bottle....

trust me on this one!

Smile
As a general rule of thumb, you can usually expect to pay about what the restaurant charges for their top glass of wine as the corkage. It is normally considered good etiquette to bring a wine that is NOT on the list of the restaurant. Some places have hard and fast rules about this, others just consider it rude. It usually is considered polite to offer a taste of the wine to either the sommelier (if there is one), the server, or the chef. I have found that about 75% of the time, this will get your corkage waived. This is a great opportunity for you to try the wine that you have collected at home with some cuisine from someone else's kitchen. If you are picky about your stemware, you might consider bringing your own. Most of all, don't take any of it too seriously! Have fun. I wish more restaurants in MA would allow it!
quote:
Originally posted by redwine&redsox:
It usually is considered polite to offer a taste of the wine to either the sommelier (if there is one), the server, or the chef. I have found that about 75% of the time, this will get your corkage waived.


75%? not in los angeles. but go ahead and be polite if you wish.
The higest corkage I have ever paid is $50 at the French Laundry.

Corkage is a way of life in SoCal. I have yet to find a high end restaurant that doesn't allow it. Some are more expensive that others.

I prefer my wine properly stored and aged. It's difficult to guarantee that this is what you will get with restaurant stored wines. Their storage policies are notorious.
quote:

It usually is considered polite to offer a taste of the wine to either the sommelier (if there is one), the server, or the chef.


How about bringing a bottle just for the three of them? Then going back in the kitchen and helping them clean up ? Maybe even staying late to lock up? Roll Eyes Listen, no one expects a taste of your wine from you, and most restaurant employees know you are doing it specifically to knock the corkage fee off your bill. I see this practice as extremely patronizing and think that offering wine from your table to your server is absolutely unnecessary, unless you know them and they know you, and you have an established relationship. These folks work in a restaurant business, for crying out loud, and they see more wine going by than many of us ever will. If you don't know them, pay up the fee and enjoy your evening with friends, relatives or whoever is dining with you. Don't waste your time on trying to scheme a tenner off you bill. That said, I'm not suggesting refusing to discuss a wine if your server recognizes a gem brought by you. In that case a small pour and a brief exchange are appropriate. In other words, let them come to you, don't fall over yourself trying to please your server with a taste of wine, it only makes you look needy and/or cheap. YOU are the one to be pleased there. Let them do their job and always treat them with respect, and please, don't over tip, it spoils good people.
quote:
Originally posted by cdr11:
I do not bring my wine to restaurants and feel it is in extremely poor taste. I also know that this position is the rare exception on these boards.


Why do you feel this way? Many people would just order a Coke in a restaurant, so its not like your short changeing them or something...its the food I'm after when I go out...just curious
quote:
Originally posted by grunhauser:
How about bringing a bottle just for the three of them? Then going back in the kitchen and helping them clean up ? Maybe even staying late to lock up? Roll Eyes Listen, no one expects a taste of your wine from you, and most restaurant employees know you are doing it specifically to knock the corkage fee off your bill. I see this practice as extremely patronizing and think that offering wine from your table to your server is absolutely unnecessary, unless you know them and they know you, and you have an established relationship. These folks work in a restaurant business, for crying out loud, and they see more wine going by than many of us ever will. If you don't know them, pay up the fee and enjoy your evening with friends, relatives or whoever is dining with you. Don't waste your time on trying to scheme a tenner off you bill. That said, I'm not suggesting refusing to discuss a wine if your server recognizes a gem brought by you. In that case a small pour and a brief exchange are appropriate. In other words, let them come to you, don't fall over yourself trying to please your server with a taste of wine, it only makes you look needy and/or cheap. YOU are the one to be pleased there. Let them do their job and always treat them with respect, and please, don't over tip, it spoils good people.


Heaven forbid I try to spread the enjoyment of wine with other people. HAving spent 13 years in restaurants, I can't say how NICE it was if someone was willing to discuss the wine that they brought into the restaurant with me. I don't offer the taste to anyone just to get the corkage fee waved, that's just how I'm usually treated. I simply recognice that the servers, sommoliers, and chefs are working their tails off, and trying to respect them for that. The arogant patronizing of restaurant staff almost always comes from someone who has never worked for $2.13 an hour, just to keep their wife under a roof. I'm not trying to get into the whole restaurant thing, I was simply trying to answer some questions to someone who was curious about corkage. Nobody expects you to be nice, it just perpetuates that the whole wine thing is only enjoyed by those in ivory towers when you aren't.

By the way, go ahead and over-tip. You might just make someone's week, and feel like a good person in the process, not an arrogant mess.
I gotta say I kinda agree with Grun on this one...I just dont see the point of making a habit of this, but maybe Im just a scrooge Mad. I'm not there to socialize with my waiter past everyday pleasantries. On the occasion one takes an interest, of course. Who knows if the waiter/tress even gives a hoot about wine? Just curious...how much do you pour them? How do you know the Chef even got it? Does he come out with the glass and thank you ect?
Well, that's certainly possible. The Yankees have 4 starting pitchers on the diabled list, but then again, 1 game or 1 series is not statistically significant. Let's see, the Yankkes have won 26 World Series and, I believe, 40 American League Championships. How many have the Rangers won? My memory ain't so good.

By the way, I was really sorry to see Soriano leave the Yankees.
cdr and RWandRS --
as a server of 27 years...I love you!!
We don't get spoiled, we appreciate it. You wouldn't believe how many self-involved diners out there bust their servers butt, act like they're gods, and leave 10-15% and think that it broke them!!!

As for the subject...corkage is usually a token for the fact that a restaurant has a wine list and the guest doesn't bother to order off of it, thus the restaurant loses income. It has been my experience that those who bring wines into a restaurant have not even checked the list; they just want to save a few bucks.
In Arizona, it is illegal to bring wine into an establishment that sells wine.
I bring my own 90% of the time, offer server a taste and leave bigger than 15% tip to compensate the server for lst revenues from the bottle which wasn't sold.

Sometimes we bring our own stemware if the place doesn't have a good one.

asv,
as far as "restaurant losing income" -
few restaurants that don't want corkage and ONLY serve their wine LOST ALL the income from us. $3000 we spent at La Viletta in 2003 was split between Mario's and Il Girasole in 2004 because they have corkage and La Viletta doesn't.
I have no problem bringing my own whenever it is available. If I can't bring my own wine....

- I likely would just have a single glass of house red with my meal and maybe a beer
- I likely would just stay at home, make a great meal and drink a good bottle from the cellar.

Also, I only offer the sommelier/server a taste if they seem genuinely interested in the bottle I have brought.
quote:
- I likely would just stay at home, make a great meal and drink a good bottle from the cellar.


THIS is why a restaurant should have a corkage policy.

quote:
As for the subject...corkage is usually a token for the fact that a restaurant has a wine list and the guest doesn't bother to order off of it, thus the restaurant loses income.


I have one place where I spend around $150 for my wife and I, and I go 5 times a year. They let me bring. If they didn't, I would go elsewhere, because their list is just OK and I could find equal food quality in a few other places. BYO breaks the tie.

They are not losing any money by allowing corkage for me. They are thrilled when we come back.

I understand that a BYO policy is tricky when dealing with the general public. For most of us, we know the right thing to do. Now, if you walk in with a 1.5 of Woodbridge, that's not cool.
quote:
Originally posted by Hunter:
I likely would just stay at home, make a great meal and drink a good bottle from the cellar.


quote:
THIS is why a restaurant should have a corkage policy.

This is why a restaurant shouldn't have a corkage policy...people who love wine enough to BYOB only makes up roughly 10% of the population. The restaurant would rather not have corkage and have the other 90% buy wine from their list at jacked up prices. It's all economical sense Hunter.
Ekoostic,

I look at it this way. The restaurant is in business to sell food, beverages and service. They pay for a liquor license for the privelege to serve. In our litigation happy environment in the U.S., they assume huge liability and risk. I go and pay for the whole package - food, BEVERAGE, and service.

Many claim the comparisons are not accurate, but I firmly believe they are - would you bring your own pastry to Starbucks to enjoy with your coffee? Would you bring a baked potatoe and steamed veggies in a thermal container to enjoy with your steak at Ruth's Chris?

And perhaps the most important reason why I do not bring wine into restaurants is that I guess wine simply isn't that important to me. I can always find something to drink on pretty much every list, from Outback Steakhouse with the kids, to a nicer place when my wife and I go out. If they don't have anything I'd enjoy, I drink beer. I can go a meal without wine if the food is good and the people are nice.

Unpopular, but the way I see it.
quote:
And perhaps the most important reason why I do not bring wine into restaurants is that I guess wine simply isn't that important to me.

Then why the hell are you on a wine board. I understand your positioning that you don't have to have a wine with dinner every night and I am the same way. Wine is nice with dinner, but not a necessity.
quote:
This is why a restaurant shouldn't have a corkage policy...people who love wine enough to BYOB only makes up roughly 10% of the population. The restaurant would rather not have corkage and have the other 90% buy wine from their list at jacked up prices. It's all economical sense Hunter.


It's not that simple. The other 90% do not all order bottles of wine anyway. Even with a corkage policy ($15), the masses would not bring, not think to ask and order their beer.
If they do like wine, the vast majority get a glass of whatever red or white is open and being poured.

Hey, I really don't care what most places do anyway. No BYO? fine. I'm not in the majority to cater to - I know, but I have my market. I have my 8-10 BYO favorites that have very good food and let me bring GOOD bottles and let me spend GOOD money.

They see my tab. They're not complaining and I'm happy.
I bartend and wait tables, and we have a $18 corkage fee. If you give me a taste, I won't charge you corkage. If you bring wine in a decanter, I'll charge corkage also, unless you give me a taste. I never ask for a taste or hint that I want one. Also, if it's a crappy wine and you give me a taste, I'll charge you corkage anyway Razz
It's the point of bringing in something that most likely eliminates the sale of a bottle or glasses of wine. It's more of a BYO charge than a corkage "service".
If I'm going to a nice meal, I always want a nice wine. A trend I've seen lately is to wave 1 corkage fee for every bottle purchased so I look to find a half of white, bubbles or something sticky to compliment one of the dishes we order. Win - Win in most cases. As far as offering a taste of something I bring - I almost always do if they are interested. The reason is that most servers do not get to taste as many wines as they should. If there is a genuine interest, sure I'll leave some behind. I'm from the school of thought that wine is meant to be shared, not hoarded.
I post on a wine board because I love wine. Wine is not, however, my life (no offense to the owner of that moniker). Let me preface this by stating it is purely my opinion and I could not care less that others disagree - I believe it is tacky to bring one's own wine into a restaurant. Bringing glasses is silly. Being hell-bent on only having "good" wine ever single time I drink wine is obsessive in my view. Eating gourmet food is great, but having a grilled cheese ever now and then is not bad. Wine is an obsession to many on these boards - that's cool. I have even read that many dread their credit card bill coming after big wine purchases! Think about that - people are financing wine! I know, I know, all of you pay your credit card bills in full every month, right?! Roll Eyes

I have made my living in the industry and truly love wine. But I can quite easily enjoy a bottle of Yellow Tail at my neighbor's house back yard barbecue. I would never dream of serving wine I would not love myself to my guests (particularly at my wedding), nor would I not dine at a restaurant because they have the audacity to offer a wine list and "substandard" glasses. I love wine, but do not "live wine."

Does that answer your question?
I generally take my own wine when I dine out.

One day I realised that I had all these bottles earmarked for a special occasion yet when the occasion came we went out and ordered from the list. We'd end up with a lesser, younger wine and still pay more for it. It made no sense at all.

So these days I take my own red wines and stickies. (I know several restaurants whose wine lists are superior to my collection, but I don't know of any that have a better selection of stickies). I generally don't take whites unless it's something particularly special; there's usually an interesting white or fizz on the list at a good price and some restaurants comp corkage with a purchase.

I'll generally offer the server a chance to taste the wine - I get as much pleasure from sharing as I do from drinking it. Consequently I'm on pretty friendly terms with the staff at my local favourite; on a couple of occasions the server has passed me a taste from something interesting that he's been given. And on several occasions it's resulted in being comped the corkage, or maybe that had nothing to do with it and it was because the staff enjoy dealing with customers who are friendly and polite.
quote:
Originally posted by cdr11:
Being hell-bent on only having "good" wine ever single time I drink wine is obsessive in my view.


Actually, I disagree. if you are going to eat or drink anything, why settle? "Good" wine does not have to be expensive, just GOOD. Whether I am ordering pizza or prime rib, I want the best possible I can get for my money. I don't view that as obsessive.
quote:
Think about that - people are financing wine! I know, I know, all of you pay your credit card bills in full every month, right?! Roll Eyes


I put all my wine on my credit card, along with everything else. I don't carry cash or pay with debit. My wife and I are one of the few who do pay their entire bills off every month. Big Grin Most of the time I have to pass on wine I want, but I would rather be able to pay off my bill than have an extra case of wine in my cellar.

Now back to topic... I wish I had the choice of BYO. I have a better selection of wines in my cellar than most restaurants in town here, but we end up staying home and enjoying a good meal than forking over 2 or 3x the price of a bottle. We can create a meal that rivals most restaurants in town, and I would rather do that then spend $100+ on a meal and then add a crazy marked up bottle on top of it. I do my own surf and turf with lobsters and rib steaks at home and have a few nice bottles to go with it. And then I don't have to worry about driving home after.

Bottom line is $50 dollars for an $18 dollar bottle of wine is insane. Eek Eek Eek I can think of a lot of nice bottles I could buy from the liquor store for $50. More places need BYOB!

Jason
Since I live in Maryland where BYO is for the most part illegal, I can only BYO to restaurants in DC (where I work). If I am going out to dinner in DC, I am not going to a "cheap or moderate" place for the most part, I can do that where I live.

Since I have a fairly large cellar, it does not make sense for me not to take wine with me to a good meal. I often dine with my siblings when they are in town and have taken 4 or 5 bottles. I have no problem with corkage fees, and if the restaurant does not permit corkage, and I want to eat there, I order off the list or go without.

However, I see no reason to drink cheap wine, or Yellow Tail, even at home, when I have lots of great wine at hand. Wine that is hard to get, has been stored properly, and is of an age to be drinking well. I always offer a taste, and usually a glass to the server. Sometimes the corkage fee is waived, sometimes it isn't.

When I travel, I eat in good restaurants and I buy wine off the list. However, I am also known to carry good wine with me when I go to places like San Francisco or LA because I corkage is so acceptable and I like to share my wines with my wine dork friends. And when we visit friends and family in NJ, they always ask me to bring wine so we can go to some of the many, many BYO places.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
A server who dropsmthe corkage charge for a taste of the wine and anticipation of an increased tip is stealing from his employer.
No...it's called you scratch my balls and I'll scratch yours...maybe it's you scratch my back and I'll scratch your back.

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