Tipping on Corkage and Wine

image of  tipping on corkage calculator

Tip Widget

Tipping on Corkage always presents a dilemma to anyone who brings wine to a restaurant. I have searched high and low on this topic and there appears to be no definite etiquette for tipping on corkage fees. Why it came to mind was because a very useful interactive tipping widget was sent to me by the Hospitality Management Schools. It covers just about every tipping situation that occurs in our daily lives and travels, except for wine corkage. I thought if the Hospitality School added tipping on corkage it would be a complete tipping tool. I suggested this to the person at the school who sent me the tip widget, but “Sorry,” came the reply; they had no ideas about wine rules. “Neither do we,” I replied.

We travel and dine often with our group of wine friends. We generally bring our favorite wines to the restaurant. There is always at least one very old wine that one of us brings and we ask that it be decanted, which means extra work for the server. We always agree to tip the wait staff on the entire check amount, including corkage.

What about the servers who tell you that they are waiving the corkage fee? Are they doing that just because they like us? It’s doubtful. I am thinking it might be because the server has been stiffed before on the corkage tip so a better angle is to waive the corkage, expecting that the patrons will add what would have been the corkage fee to the tip amount. We are finding it more often than not that servers are waiving the corkage fee. I like this trend.

Restaurant Wine
Most restaurant wine lists have a huge markup. Sometimes as much as three times the retail price. I know many who will subtract the cost of restaurant wine from the check when figuring the tip amount. The reasoning is because they figure service is built into the huge markup restaurants add to the price of wine. Restaurants say the markup on wine covers the extra work required to serve wine. This includes opening the wine, decanting if necessary, serving the wine, storing, and of course the many aspects of the glassware. Again, as with the corkage fee, to tip or not tip on the price of the wine?

What are your thoughts about wine, corkage, and tipping at a restaurant?

I have included the link to the handy hospitality calculator for you to peruse at your leisure. Too bad this widget is not an app for the smartphone. I would like to have this handy tip tool for traveling. There are plenty of apps for figuring the tip for a restaurant meal. This little widget covers more tipping rules.


  1. The standard for tipping has always been 15% for food and 10% for wine or liquor. But I see now that many of the places I frequent are charging 2.5 to 3 times mark-up for the wine. To tip further seems wrong. I often tip 20% for food when the service is superb but never include the wine or liquor. I tip less for that but I do tip. I think someone has to write a column on this to help us. We want to be fair but, really, after a 3 x mark-up on a bottle of wine, do we really need to tip any further?
    (I’m excluding bistros and brasseries who have a nice selection of inexpensive wines at usually a 2x mark-up.)
    Looking forward to hearing more on this topic.

    • Your comment on tipping sounds very sensible and reasonable. Tipping on corkage and wine seems to have no standard rules so I suspect others may have a different opinion.

  2. My general rule on tipping when I’ve bought a bottle of wine (or two) at a nice restaurant is that if the wine has been marked up 2 times or less than the retail price then I’ll apply my normal tip rate to the wine along with the rest of the meal. If the wine has been marked up more than 2 times retail then I won’t tip at all, or very little, on the cost of the wine.

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