Category Archives: Food – Dining

Weekly Corkage Deals and Alerts on Yelp! San Francisco and more…

Did you know the average industry markup on wine is two and a half to three times its wholesale cost? Crazy right?! This week we take a look at restaurants in San Francisco that have special nights during the week where you can uncork that bottle free of charge!

http://www.Yelp.com/ [LINK]

Weekly Corkage Deals on Yelp! for San Francisco and beyond…

Ordinaire in Oakland a shrine to natural wine | SFGate

The wine is cloudy in the glass, a kind of pale-golden milk, wafting a cowshed’s worth of organic-matter aromas: wet earth, animal hide, sweet-smelling hay. When I taste it, its acidity sears. A tangy bacterial thing (see also: kombucha; sour beer) makes my mouth pucker, and among its pretty floral flavors there emerges a more pungent biotic note, reminiscent of cannabis.

http://www.sfgate.com/wine/article/ [LINK]

 

Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle Ordinaire owner Bradford Taylor (left) pours at the Oakland wine bar, which has an extensive selection of natural wines — unfiltered, idiosyncratic and a bit funky.

The Etiquette Of Navigating A Corkage Fee

While most good restaurants allow diners to bring their own wine, some don’t, so the first step in deciding whether or not to bring your own bottle is to call ahead and ask if it’s allowed. We usually ask when we make the initial reservation or when we confirm that reservation on the day for which it was set. Simply ask the maître d’ what the restaurant’s corkage policy is, and then whether or not they have a fee.  VinePair.com

Corkage and Tipping a.k.a. Gratuitage

Wine_bagWe went to a trendy restaurant for dinner one evening in the Dog-patch district of San Francisco a few years back and I brought a couple bottles of really nice wine along, based on some menu items I noticed while having a business lunch there a few weeks prior. I didn’t think to call ahead to inquire about the  corkage fee and I more or less thought the fees should be at least reasonable and or something could be worked out, like a one-for-one or something mutually agreeable.

When the server came to the table, I mentioned we had brought a couple of choice bottles and were willing to share them with all of the staff (really), if any of them were interested and that I had carefully considered the selections based on some of their very interesting entrees. The server promptly told me the corkage fee was $35 a bottle and there was a two bottle limit. At the time, $35 a bottle was the most I had ever heard of paying for corkage. I was flabbergasted and completely caught off-guard.

I remember being pretty darn hungry and even feeling rather tired (low blood sugar?) after very long day at work but, I also found myself getting kind of perturbed and even somewhat indignant. I tried to do my best to remain calm and pleasant. I asked about the possibility of doing a one-for-one, to which I received a very solid, no-way-Jose in return.

The restaurant is (was?) a very popular place but, on this particular evening, I remember quite well, it was a little late and the place was half full (or half empty, depending on your take on things). I ended up telling the server that I was kind of taken aback and that I would keep my wine for another evening and decided very intentionally, I would keep my order to a bare minimum, which I indeed did. I had an entree, a side dish and a glass of water.

I told my dining companion, that after thinking about it a bit, I could have easily agreed to the corkage fees and then taken a portion (or all of it) of it out of the gratuity. We talked about that approach as evenhandedly as we could. We carried on in ‘friendly debate‘ fashion, as I recall, not unlike the satire versions of 60 minutes Point/Counter-point that Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtin did on Saturday Night Live in the 1970’s (dating myself here a bit).

The result of our lively ‘discussion’ was that it was definitely not going to be fair to the server, although their attitude was a little less than cooperative, to stiff them on the gratuity, to make a point to the ownership.

As it turned out, our restraint in ordering any starters or cocktails, soups, salads, desserts or anything other than the core basics, was our two person attempt to let those at the top know that people that like good wines and good food, know what they like and should not feel as though they being penalized for bringing in some interesting vino to complement their dining experience. So, there and harrumph!

My recollection was that meal was excellent but, sadly lacking in the pairing of some amazing vintages that would have made an excellent meal an unforgettable culinary experience. Alas, the only real reason the meal was made so unforgettable was the iron-fisted, hard-nosed, attitude of the wait staff caring out the high dictum of their greedy overlords. Ultimately, we never went back to this establishment ever again…. Oh well!

So, the question then becomes… Who ultimately lost out in the long run? With hundreds, if not thousands of dining options in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and no shortage of great venues charging reasonable or in some case no corkage fees, did we feel burned or somehow shorted? Not so much. Maybe just ever so slightly fleeced.

It would be interesting to take a shot at trying to roughly calculate just how much revenue this establishment has lost over the years since our encounter there in terms of goodwill, recommendations we did not make to our friends, co-workers, fellow wine club members, positive ratings left on dining reviews sites and so forth and so on… I think it is fair to say, the restaurateurs ended up losing out on a lot more than we ever did and this could easily be multiplied by scores of other fellow members of the BYOB set who had the same experience there.

There is an interesting Blog posting by W. Blake Gray along with some very spirited comments following it, on the topic of Tipping on Corkage. Well worth a look, while sipping a glass of your favorite varietal!

Cheers, Mike @ NCF

Is Thomas Keller Charging the US’s Highest Corkage Fees?

persecorkagefee500RS.jpg

Eater.com by Erin DeJesus

Thomas Keller‘s celebrated restaurants Per Se (in New York City) andthe French Laundry (in Yountville, CA) may now be charging America’shighest corkage feesEater’s data lead Ryan Sutton reports that corkage fees at both restaurants were recently upped to $150 per bottle, representing a price hikes of $60 (at Per Se) and $75 (at the French Laundry). The $150 fee is a solid $50 more than the next two priciest on the list — Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas and the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare — which both hover around $100.

A quick look at other top restaurants’ corkage fees — from Jean Georges to Atelier Crenn to Saison — reveal fees ranging from $30-85, but at least wine snobs are still allowed to BYO to a Thomas Keller joint. As Sutton notes, “certain high-profile venues, like Le Bernardin and Daniel in New York, or Grace in Chicago, do not permit outside wines.”

Source: http://eater.com/archives/2014/03/28/is-per-se-charging-americas-highest-corkage-fee.php

UPDATE:

Readers Respond to Per Se’s $150 BYO Fee
Eater.com, by Ryan Sutton

 

New Michigan law lets diners take their own wine to some restaurants

By Sylvia Rector / Gannett Michigan

The Novi News reached out to a variety of Novi restaurants about the new wine corkage law, but received responses only from Diamond Jim Brady’s…

Michigan diners can now legally take their own bottles of wine to restaurants that have liquor licenses, but they will likely have to pay a corkage fee to have it served to them and the restaurant must be willing to allow it.

Previously, wine purchased outside a restaurant could not be served there, but a new state law that took effect March 14 changes that.

Restaurants still have the option to prohibit outside wines, said Justin Winslow, the Michigan Restaurant Association’s vice president of governmental affairs. And they can charge whatever they wish as a corkage fee — the charge for providing glassware and serving the wine.  More…

Source: http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20140326/NEWS13/303260024/New-law-allows-diners-take-their-own-wine