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Thread: Corkage to be or not to be

  1. #1

    Corkage to be or not to be

    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!

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Midsummer View Post
    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.
    Michael
    "Don't you know who he is?"

  3. #3
    Thanks Michael for the thoughtful reply!

  4. #4
    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.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Justin0505's Avatar
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    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.
    "I gotta tell ya, this is pretty terrific. Ha hahaha, YEAH!" - Moe (w/ 2 knives). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVt4U...layer_embedded

  6. #6

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    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

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Justin0505 View Post
    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.
    Michael
    "Don't you know who he is?"

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin0505 View Post
    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.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Sam Cro's Avatar
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    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

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Cro View Post
    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. ;-)

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