Category Archives: No Corkage Fees

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! [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. [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.

Find coupons for wine corkage: Corkpons

A website that maps restaurants that offer wine corkage for a fee, or sometimes — though rarely — for nothing, has a new thing going. It’s called Corkpon, or a coupon for corkage.

Corkpons, as explained by CorkageFeed, are created by restaurateurs and bar owners as a way to attract customers. To find Corkpons and corkage information at restaurants near you, go to and plug in your ZIP Code, the restaurant name or the city. If a restaurant is featuring a Corkpon, you’ll see a “Corkpon offer” button on the listing. Redeem the offer by printing it or showing it to your waiter on your smartphone. [LINK]

A Taste of Monterey

A Taste of Monterey is an interesting and unique wine shop, tasting room and bistro, as well as, a promoter of No Corkage Fees! Any local wine that is purchased a A Taste of Monterey can be taken to anyone of several local Monterey Restaurants and no corkage fee will be charged. We think this a great idea to promote local wineries and local restaurants at the same time and we hope this is a concept that will catch in more areas over time.

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

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…


A Great Idea… Corkage for Charity!

Restaurants implementing corkage fees donate big bucks to charities.


A corkage fee can put a damper on a wine and dine evening. But if a portion of that fee goes to a charity, then your favorite wine tastes even better. At least that’s the mentality of restaurant owners across the county, who’ve implemented a corkage-to-charity program.

Napa’s beloved Pearl Restaurant has had this concept in place for six years. They have a $12 corkage fee, half of which goes directly to Napa Humane, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping improve the standard of animal care in Napa County. “Corkage can be tricky and sometimes problematic when your restaurant is located in the Napa Valley, but at Pearl, we’re very grateful for the support we get from the local community, so we came up with our corkage donation program,” says Nickie Zeller, co-owner (with husband Pete Zeller) of the restaurant.

Pearl has donated roughly $20,000 to Napa Humane since the program launched. “Nickie and Pete Zeller of Pearl are such good friends to Napa Humane and the animals and their people that we serve,” says Executive Director Jane Albert.

Here are other restaurants with similar programs:

Farmstead Restaurant, St. Helena CA: Another Napa restaurant that has taken on corkage protocol, Farmstead collects a $2 fee for each guest’s bottle and donates all of the proceeds to a different community-based not-for-profit each month. Since starting the “Corkage for Community” program in March, they’ve donated approximately $1,000 per month.

“Our corkage program is a way we can promote Farmstead as a community meeting place and support our neighboring community at the same time,” says Chris Hall, one of Farmstead’s proprietors. “We want to encourage vintners, growers and wine enthusiasts to come to Farmstead to show off their wines while at the same time contributing to the community.”

Marssa, Loews Lake Las Vegas, Henderson NV: As part of Loews Hotels’ “Good Neighbor Policy,” Marssa’s $20 corkage fee goes directly to, a non-profit Web site where public school teachers describe specific educational projects for their students and donors can choose the projects they want to support. Any corkage fees as part of the hotel’s banquet services are also donated.

New Leaf Restaurant & Bar, New York NY: Opened in 2001 and with all net proceeds going to support Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project, corkage at New Leaf literally turns into new leaves in New York. “The corkage fee at the New Leaf is $25, but like all of our net proceeds, these funds support New York Restoration Project’s cleaning and greening of New York City,” says John Burbank, New Leaf’s general manager. “By raising their glasses and cleaning their plates, patrons are truly helping clean up the community and our city.”

The King’s Kitchen, Charlotte NC: With the theme of “Feast to Feed Somebody,” Charlotte’s new King’s Kitchen is the brainchild of North Carolina restaurateur Jim Noble. He donates $5 of the $20 corkage fee “to feed the poor.”

The Mint, Raleigh Every Monday, The Mint now waives their $20 corkage fee and accepts the corks as donations to give to synthetic cork manufacturer Nomacorc, which then contributes 2 cents per cork to the Frankie Lemon Foundation (they work to ensure specialized education for children ages three to six who have developmental delays, language impairments, learning disabilities or mental retardation). Those who bring in additional corks for donation are entered in a drawing for a $200 gift certificate at The Mint.