Corkage at a restaurant

The do’s and don’ts – Corkage at a restaurant

can you bring cheap wine to a restaurant

Can you bring a bottle of cheap wine to a restaurant?

Can you bring a bottle of inexpensive wine to a restaurant?

It is okay to bring an inexpensive bottle of wine to a restaurant under certain conditions. First, ask yourself why you’d want to bring in a bottle of cheap vino to a restaurant. It is a bad idea if the thought is to save money. Most restaurants take pride in preparing their wine lists. They want to match their food menu with a selection of wines with a broad price range.

The reason you bring a bottle of wine to a restaurant is that it has a significant meaning to you. Examples: A wine you purchased on a wine country trip where you met the winemaker. A wine that is a vintage of a year you are celebrating, as in a wedding anniversary.

Corkage guidelines for bringing an inexpensive bottle of wine to a restaurant.

  • Don’t bring a mass-produced wine. Examples: Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma or Meomi Pinot Noir are high production wines (over a million cases made).
  • Don’t bring a second label wine as in Trader Joe’s, Kirkland or Cameron Hughes.
  • Bring a  wine is made by a boutique winery or family-owned winery. Example – Terra Savia Chardonnay, or Sabon Estate Zinfandel
  • Bring a wine that is an older vintage – wine from your cellar.
  • If a restaurant has a meager wine list, you have more latitude
  • The fancier the restaurant (Michelin star), the better idea it is to choose from the wine list.

Additional thoughts on corkage

  • Always call ahead to find out what the corkage policy is a restaurant. Often in a restaurant’s corkage policy, they will charge you the restaurant wine list price for your wine if it happens to be on their wine list. If the corkage fee is high, $20 or more, your inexpensive bottle of wine becomes high priced.
  • Of course, you can try bringing any wine to a restaurant. Manners are manners! I once witnessed a party bring in Two Buck Chuck to a Calistoga restaurant.
  • One of the downsides of bringing wine to a restaurant is it doesn’t make sense if you are into pairing food and wine.  It limits your choices. If the special of the night is a seafood pasta and you have a big Cabernet, forget about having the special of the night. Get the ribeye
2014 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet
2014 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet – great Cab for your wine cellar

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