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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Noble Writ: Corkage with Class

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2009 at 3:33 PM

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click to enlarge User "che," Wikimedia Commons - BRING THAT SPECIAL BOTTLE YOU'VE BEEN STORING HERE.
  • Bring that special bottle you've been storing here.
  • User "che," Wikimedia Commons
If you choose to take advantage of restaurant's corkage policy, there are a few protocols that may not be apparent. First, call to confirm that the restaurant allows corkage and what the fee is. I never assume that a place allows it or that it has the same policy as it did when I last visited.

Second, bring a decent bottle of wine. You will not be well-received should you arrive toting a bottle of Yellow Tail (not even the Reserve!), nor will you be allowed by most places to open a bottle of wine that the restaurant has on its list. This latter point is one reason that I tend to bring several bottles with me: Another reason: I don't know what folks will order and want to be able to select something appropriate. If you have a special bottle that you've been saving (ideally under decent storage conditions), this is a great time to open it up.

Finally, a couple of financial points. Know that it's customary (which is not the same as necessary) to order a drink from the restaurant as well. Whether it's an aperitif or cocktail, a glass of wine, a whole bottle or an after-dinner whiskey, most wine folks will give the restaurant its full profit on something. It's also customary to calculate the tip on the total of the bill plus the value of the bottle you brought so that your server doesn't get short-changed on her income by your exercise of the corkage policy.

So, the next time you're confronted with or even craving a meal at a restaurant that has good food, but no wine (or wine prices) you enjoy, give them a call and see if they allow corkage. If so, you should find yourself drinking better for less.

Dave Nelson is the author of the blog Beer, Wine and Whisky. He writes about wine for Gut Check every Tuesday.

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