Out of 32 parties seated in the restaurant last Saturday night, almost half of them brought their own wine. While we are always happy to accommodate our guests who bring in their own wines (especially those that share things with us like a 1990 DRC!) this is getting out of hand. And while we love it when our friends and neighbors in “the business” bring in their product, in our area you really can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone in the wine business.
Our corkage right now is $20 for a 750ml, $40 for a mag, with no limit on number of bottles; we use Riedel Vinum Extreme, varietal-correct glassware; bottles are de-canted (where applicable); honest, educated suggestions are made by our Somms about which dishes/courses the guests’ wine would pair with best; and we are fairly loose with the “buy one, waive one policy. If a party participates in our Wine Pairing for the first three courses, then wants to enjoy their own wine with the fourth, we often waive as well.
We do have a preponderance of bottles over $100 on our list, but many of them, especially older vintage Bordeaux and Burgundies, are vastly under-priced for what they are. Our check average is around $120 per person so, to me anyway, $20 per bottle is a deal…
Is our corkage too low? Should we limit the number of bottles that we will allow or maybe work on a sliding scale, increasing corkage fees for the 3rd, 4th, or 5th bottle (we had a party on Saturday that brought in 10, ended up opening 7!)
Is is because the wine list prices are too high? I don’t think so, as many of the guests last Saturday were first timers, and our wine list is not published on-line, so how would they know?
Or is this just a product of things being the way they are in the world these days?