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View Full Version : Corkage to be or not to be



Midsummer
08-22-2013, 01:23 PM
So I know this site has people from all walks of life. Just a out everyone enjoys good food and drink. Depending on where you work you may see this differently than others.

Here is the question: I have a good friend that has a nice collection of wines and he likes to take them with him when he eats out. He believes that there is a corkage fee for that very reason.

My wife is uncomfortable when we meet him out as she thinks it is not right. I am left in the middle. On one hand why would you allow corkage at your place unless you are comfortable with it; on the other hand a restaurant is in the business to sell their wine and the wait staff gratuity is dependent on the total bill. And the total is lower with corkage.

What are your thoughts? Thanks in advance!

mhlee
08-22-2013, 01:38 PM
So I know this site has people from all walks of life. Just a out everyone enjoys good food and drink. Depending on where you work you may see this differently than others.

Here is the question: I have a good friend that has a nice collection of wines and he likes to take them with him when he eats out. He believes that there is a corkage fee for that very reason.

My wife is uncomfortable when we meet him out as she thinks it is not right. I am left in the middle. On one hand why would you allow corkage at your place unless you are comfortable with it; on the other hand a restaurant is in the business to sell their wine and the wait staff gratuity is dependent on the total bill. And the total is lower with corkage.

What are your thoughts? Thanks in advance!

I'm not a restauranteur, nor do I work in the restaurant industry, but I somewhat regularly bring wines with me to dinner with friends, including chefs and people that work in restaurants. The people in the industry that I've eaten with nearly all have corkage at their restaurants. I've not received one objection about bringing wine. (I almost always ask first.)

First, the corkage cost, as has been repeatedly explained to me, is to cover cost of labor and glasses (primarily glasses since they obviously get broken when used). And, second, restaurants that don't want people to bring in wines just don't allow it.

With respect to tipping, if I receive good wine service for a wine that I've brought in, I'll add extra gratuity as part of the tip (I calculate tip based on the total that includes the corkage fee.) In addition, more often than not, I've usually also purchased cocktails with the wine that I've brought so there are beverages included on my bill. I don't just order water, and only drink the wine that I've brought.

One thing that is important is that something on the wine list or a super cheap wine are not brought to the restaurant. Bring something that's not on the list, and is a good bottle. In addition, I've always found that offering a taste to the waitstaff that's serving your wine or manager is the polite thing to do.

Midsummer
08-22-2013, 01:50 PM
Thanks Michael for the thoughtful reply!

toddnmd
08-22-2013, 02:05 PM
Most restaurants around me don't allow corkage.

I assume anyplace that does has decided that it's worth their while to allow people to bring in their own stuff, especially if that's relatively rare. And restaurants can set their own corkage fees so I'd assume they've determined that their policy is going to be better for their business overall.

I don't see this a a right vs. wrong thing. Though I'm not sure how to adjust the tip for corkage.

Justin0505
08-22-2013, 02:47 PM
I certainly don't see a problem with corkage. Obviously it would be rude to bring a wine that the restaurants sells, but beyond that I see no problem at all.

I spent a few years working front of house and, I always tip based on work, not just the sales. I always found running / refilling drinks to be one of the trickyest parts of serving. The food you can time pretty consistently as you learn the menu and the way the kitchen operates based on who's cooking and what the ticket load is, but people drink at widely varying rates and they get annoyed quickly if either their glass is sitting empty or you're constantly interrupting them to refill the top 1/32 of it.

Think about tipping a bartender for pouring you a beer or glass of wine when you pick up a drink from the bar: your server worked just as hard if not harder to refill your water 10x as you drank away a fish tank 1 glass at a time. So, I always think of the work that the server is doing that is not captured in a sale and tip over the 20% of the tab accordingly.

One more note on corkage fees is that often times the little BYO places either don't have them or they're very small. I make extra sure to take care of servers in those situations.

I think that in order to earn the privilege of being allowed to be a patron of restaurants, everyone should have to spend at least a few weeks working in a restaurant with it as their only source of income.

bikehunter
08-22-2013, 03:10 PM
I spent 25 years in the Napa/Sonoma wine industry. With MANY friends in the restaurant business. To question corkage is just silly, particularly in a "wine country" area, be it Napa Valley, Mendocino, or points much further South. The vast majority of restaurants have no problem with it, and the rare ones which do, for whatever reason I can't imagine....simply don't allow it. Your wife's concerns are simply unwarranted and frankly, not really her business. (with apologies to your wife, I'm sure she means well. ;-) Anyone with any ethics at all, will take the waitstaff into consideration when it comes time to pay the bill. In fact, I've found that the customer who brings his/her own fine wine, most often over tips to make up for corkage. YMMV

mhlee
08-22-2013, 03:21 PM
Think about tipping a bartender for pouring you a beer or glass of wine when you pick up a drink from the bar: your server worked just as hard if not harder to refill your water 10x as you drank away a fish tank 1 glass at a time. So, I always think of the work that the server is doing that is not captured in a sale and tip over the 20% of the tab accordingly.


This is a great point.

bikehunter
08-22-2013, 03:31 PM
I certainly don't see a problem with corkage. Obviously it would be rude to bring a wine that the restaurants sells, but beyond that I see no problem at all.



In my experience, most restaurants which do allow corkage, do NOT allow customers to bring a wine which is on their menu.

Sam Cro
08-22-2013, 03:35 PM
I would say it all depends on the restaurant, the folks who run the restaurant, and the many different Ethnic patrons that patronize the restaurant. As one that has traveled to many countries and has eaten at many a local restaurant while visiting with in those countries it is customary to bring a wine, liquor or gift for the host , family, or a business acquaintance that you are meeting, staying with, it is especially done in Italy and France areas. Yes many times the GM, or Owner is offered to sit down with the group for a tasting of the wines that were brought to the table by guest . some times or in many occasions a particular Guest my be a Wine maker with a new release of their wine and it is offered "If" it is liked/loved to the owner for a very limited time as the House Special so others may try it and give their opinion of the wine.

Since being retired now I do get to travel a bit and do enjoy time out with my wife to some finer restaurants. Corkage at many of them and often promoted at the packaging store they will have a list of restaurants that do allow you to BYOB and enjoy a meal . when I go to these types of places I do take care of the servers though they are top knock any way unlike many at simple chains that do not really care if you are served or not .

Sam

bikehunter
08-22-2013, 03:40 PM
I would say it all depends on the restaurant, the folks who run the restaurant, and the many different Ethnic patrons that patronize the restaurant.
Sam

Well, of course. I was speaking of my OWN experience, in a very specific area of the world. ;-)

mr drinky
08-22-2013, 04:02 PM
I tend not to bring wines to restaurants but out of the dozen or so times I have, I have never actually been charged a corkage fee. Here are my rules: (1) Always call ahead and ask if it is ok. (2) Before taking your bottle out at the restaurant ask your server about it again and explain that you called ahead, don't just spring it on them as they don't know you have called about it and they might not know the fees or rules themselves -- don't assume. (3) Bring a kick-a$$ bottle of wine -- something they will be jealous of. (4) I always leave a half glass in the bottom of the bottle and for the server or sommelier. And lastly (5) if the wine needs to be decanted, do it at home before you arrive. They shouldn't have to work more for it or understand how your 2001 barolo needs to be decanted. Make it easy.

k.

Sam Cro
08-22-2013, 04:14 PM
Well, of course. I was speaking of my OWN experience, in a very specific area of the world. ;-)

It was not directed at you just my 2 cent opinion to add to the thread with my experiences and travels.

Sam

bikehunter
08-22-2013, 04:30 PM
No offense taken, and i understand, just making my own position clear. I know a bit about ethnic groups. Had a Greek girlfriend for several years and I want to tell you that I'm well aware that very little could keep the family from bringing their own wine to a restaurant. LOL

Midsummer
08-22-2013, 05:23 PM
I want to thank each of you for your responses (Todd, Justin, John, Sam, and K). And i would say that I am in general agreement with what has been said. Though i will still need to be aware of my wife's concerns.
But again thank you each. Tom

DeepCSweede
08-22-2013, 05:27 PM
I think it really depends on the restaurant in question. I have rarely brought wines to restaurants except in rare circumstances where they have just awful wines, no wine or are already a BYO liquor type establishment and also for very special occasions. I always tip on corkage unless the waiter / waitress doesn't open or pour for you, then it may be adjusted accordingly. I also agree to offer some to the sommelier or wait staff although I have rarely seen wait staff partake.

JohnnyChance
08-22-2013, 05:31 PM
I bring beer, not wine. I have lots of bombers at home that I would love to drink but when I am home I am usually alone and not eating food. So I bring them out to eat. I put them in a giant insulated bag. And if I know the kitchen I put a 12 pack of whatever in there for them as well. The server will take them and keep them chilled and then I just tell the server which beers I want when and then that the rest is for the kitchen.

If you are worried that you will be tipping less because your wine sales are lower, you could always just over tip. But don't feel too bad, most servers are overpaid anyway.

mr drinky
08-22-2013, 05:38 PM
...I also agree to offer some to the sommelier or wait staff although I have rarely seen wait staff partake.

If you sit at the bar, as my wife and I like to, it is a lot more common. Other times I just leave it on the table, and I am sure they often take it back to the kitchen once we have gone.

k.

bikehunter
08-22-2013, 05:47 PM
Though i will still need to be aware of my wife's concerns.
Tom

I guess it would pointing out the blatantly obvious that ...you'd be a fool not to. <g>

bikehunter
08-22-2013, 05:50 PM
I have rarely brought wines to restaurants except in rare circumstances where they have just awful wines, no wine .

Heh...hate to ask...what would you possibly be doing in a restaurant such as that? lol

mano
08-22-2013, 06:27 PM
Here in PA -and Philadelphia in particular- BYOB's are commonplace. Most don't charge a corkage, but those that do tend to be nominal. In the past several years many places with wine lists have BYOB policies, always with a higher corkage. Tipping tends not to take corkage into account.

The only other place I ever saw many restaurants with BYOB/corkage policies is Napa and Sonoma. Apparently it's catching on throughout the country. Some places such as Peter Luger's in NYC won't allow BYOB for any wine or anyone. I heard they turned away Henry Kissenger's attempt to bring a bottle of Lafite.

Unless the server is a complete jerk, I most always offer a glass. If the food is really good, I send a glass back to the chef. If they have a wine list and a sommelier, I always offer a glass.

If there's any question about a BYO policy (places with wine lists rarely advertise it) just call ahead and ask.

Von blewitt
08-22-2013, 06:39 PM
We are a no BYO restaurant, but will make exceptions. ( usually for sentimental bottles rather than expensive bottles) it can turn people off. Australia has a BYO culture, stemming back to when liquor licensing was stricter, and very few restaurants could sell alcohol.

bikehunter
08-22-2013, 06:39 PM
The only other place I ever saw many restaurants with BYOB/corkage policies is Napa and Sonoma.

Because it so common for folks to have special wines in their collection at home.

Apparently it's catching on throughout the country.

Thanks to the goddesses!

Some places such as Peter Luger's in NYC won't allow BYOB for any wine or anyone. I heard they turned away Henry Kissenger's attempt to bring a bottle of Lafite.

I guess that's because Peter is such hot chit?? lol Come into the century you arrogant jerk.



I'm very adamant and aggresive about allowing corkage. Did you guess? ;-)

mkmk
08-22-2013, 10:52 PM
I'm not a restauranteur, nor do I work in the restaurant industry, but I somewhat regularly bring wines with me to dinner with friends, including chefs and people that work in restaurants. The people in the industry that I've eaten with nearly all have corkage at their restaurants. I've not received one objection about bringing wine. (I almost always ask first.)

First, the corkage cost, as has been repeatedly explained to me, is to cover cost of labor and glasses (primarily glasses since they obviously get broken when used). And, second, restaurants that don't want people to bring in wines just don't allow it.

With respect to tipping, if I receive good wine service for a wine that I've brought in, I'll add extra gratuity as part of the tip (I calculate tip based on the total that includes the corkage fee.) In addition, more often than not, I've usually also purchased cocktails with the wine that I've brought so there are beverages included on my bill. I don't just order water, and only drink the wine that I've brought.

One thing that is important is that something on the wine list or a super cheap wine are not brought to the restaurant. Bring something that's not on the list, and is a good bottle. In addition, I've always found that offering a taste to the waitstaff that's serving your wine or manager is the polite thing to do.

That covers it perfectly.

Salty dog
08-23-2013, 07:00 AM
In Wisconsin it is against the law to bring your own alcoholic beverage to a Class B establishment. However, most restaurants ignore the law and it isn't enforced. The one's that don't allow it stick out like a sore thumb.
Professionally speaking, as long as it's not on my list and you take care of the server I'm fine with it.

Personally speaking, If I bring a bottle it will be a good one I'd usually share with friends, so we'll usually buy one from the list as well and tip accordingly.

We also allow people to bring in Budweiser at no charge. Some people have to have their Bud. We have found it's best not to argue with them.

boomchakabowwow
08-23-2013, 04:42 PM
i love bringing my own wine. i have stuff, i know the restaurant wont have.

i wont bring cheap wine. it needs to, at a bare minimum, outweigh the corkage. and i dont want to bring something already on the list.

i usually will bring one bottle, and if the group is large, we drink a bunch of theirs as well. the servers always get excited if they see something unknown. i always invite anyone to bring over a glass. especially the sommelier. (<--did i just butcher that spelling?)

Justin0505
08-23-2013, 06:12 PM
A somali? You in Africa? They like wine too over there?

mr drinky
08-23-2013, 06:17 PM
A somali? You in Africa? They like wine too over there?

Ethiopia has a wine industry, but I am not so sure about Somalia. That Mogadishu Bdx blend with new french oak is really stunning.

k.