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Wine/Corkage Fees Etiquette Tips and Advice

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Question
Hi Josh,

I was wondering if you could give any etiquette tips and advice regarding inquiring about corkage fees at restaurants.  What are the dos and don’ts for inquiring about and using this service?

Answer
Ben,

Yes, I'll be happy to offer advice and this, which is a topic near and dear to many wine lover's hearts. First of all it's best to inquire about their policy when you call ahead to make your reservation. Skip the OpenTable app. Sometimes the person on the phone isn't sure or the person who knows isn't there yet. Make sure you get a firm yes from the person who knows (also good to remember their name if anyone questions later). Also make sure you get a quote for the amount they will charge, so you don't have an issue with your server. Sometime if your heart is really set on a particular restaurant and they're saying no you can try saying you have "special bottle" that you're celebrating a birthday or anniversary with. That has worked for me a few times. When you sit down tell your server you have a bottle you'd like served and you are prepared to pay the corkage. If you have something good you should offer a taste to the server or sommelier. If the corkage very high you can tip as you normally would on the check total. If the corkage is reasonable it's a good idea to tip as if the check included one of the restaurant's finer wines e.g., imagine the total is maybe $100 higher and tip on that amount. This is a good idea because not only does it endear you to the restaurant and their staff but it also encourages the restaurant to continue to allow BYO which is good for all of us!

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Joshua Farrell

Expertise

I can answer most any question about wine- types, styles, grape varieties, regions, vintages, proper storage, production, wine and food pairing, wine service, decanting, proper glassware, serving temperatures etc. Regarding questions about specific bottles of wine, since I live in the U.S. my focus is on wines imported here. I can't answer questions about spirits and liquor valuations.

Experience

I have over 20 years of experience. I was a wine buyer and sommelier in NYC for many years including 4 years at Windows on the World which was NY's number one wine restaurant. I created and taught a Wine Appreciation Course at Borough of Manhattan Community College. I have worked for the past 15 years for the Wine Enthusiast Cos. as Editor, Columnist, Wine Storage Consultant and am currently Wine Director and Buyer for their online wine website wineexpress.com, I recently judged in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. Follow me on Twitter @WEX_Josh

Publications
Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Diversions Magazine

Education/Credentials
Windows on the World Wine School- completed all courses from beginning to advanced. Former member of the Sommelier Society of NY. Competed in the Food and Wines of France Sommelier Competition. Traveled to wine regions in Europe including, Bordeaux, Rhone Valley, Alsace, Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto, Rioja, and Jerez. Visited wine regions in NY's Finger Lakes, California's Sonoma, Napa and Central Coast and Oregon's Willamette Valley.

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