During the past few years, many more restaurants have started offering BYOB as a way to attract more customers. In return for a small corkage fee, customers can bring their own wine or beer to enjoy with their meal. In case you are not familiar, a “corkage fee” is the practice of charging customers for the privilege of bringing their own wine.
Whether you are a seasoned veteran or the newbie on the block, here are some tips and suggestions to use as a guide when planning your night out.
1. Call Ahead – It is always good practice to call the restaurant beforehand to find out the policies and fees upfront. Do not be surprised if you are asked to bring your own wine glasses.
2. Pay the Fare – Corkage fees can range anywhere from $5 on the low end to $80+ on the high end, depending on the locale and type of restaurant. Be sure to check around for local specials – some restaurants offer a “corkage free” night.
3. Mind the Menu – Try to avoid wines that are served at the restaurant. A lot of time and effort is spent on selecting specific wines to complement their menu options.
4. Wine or Beer? – Think about the cuisine the restaurant offers and pick out something that will complement your meal. Get creative or bring your favorites!
Here are some ideas below:
a. Pasta, chicken, salad – White wine
b. Steak, hearty meats – Red wine
c. Burgers, hot dogs – Beer
d. Sushi, Asian dishes – Sake
5. Offer a Taste – If you are planning on going to a fine dining restaurant, keep in mind that there is often an employed sommelier on hand who selects the wine list and offers advice to customers. It is good practice to offer a sample, as a courtesy. While this is not a norm, waiters at some restaurants will often waive the corkage fee if you allow them a taste. (Nice treat, but don’t expect this!)
6. Tips, Tips, Tips – As a guide to calculate tip, add either the amount of the corkage fee or the least expensive bottle of wine from their wine list to the full price of your bill. Since many waiters are not enthusiastic about BYOB (because the high prices of alcohol raise the bill), be sure to show your appreciation so that the restaurant continues to offer this service.
To all of the “wine-O’s” & beer enthusiasts out there – bottoms up!