Corkage is a term given to the amount of money a business charges a patron to uncork his or her own bottle of wine, purchased from an outside source. Some restaurants don't charge any, others charge varying prices depending on the establishment, while others allow no corkage at all. There are many perspectives regarding corkage, provided by both the food and beverage industry as well as diners themselves. The subject often is a heated one . The issue itself, as well as any related stories, warrant discussion.
In regards to corkage,
Imagine a person walks into a restaurant with their own piece of meat and doesn't want to pay anything for the chef to prepare it for them, or a person walks into a mechanic shop with a radiator they bought off ebay, expecting the mechanic to install it for free, now imagine a person brings a bottle of his or her own wine into a restaurant with a perfectly good wine list, and expects the staff to open and pour it for them for free. Now imagine its a party of ten people and they bring in five bottles of wine and expect the staff to open five bottles of wine, pour each of them, and polish fifty different glasses, for free. Hence corkage.
Restaurants are businesses, no different from google, apple, ford motors, or nordstrom. They exist to provide a product to society, being food and beverage, and generate income from this product. When corkage is addressed from this standpoint, it seams foolish to even think of bringing your own product to a business that already sells it. Granted there are many times when bringing a personal bottle of wine into a restaurant is an acceptable thing. Many people who are passionate about wine have their own personal collection of quality wine they are either aging or waiting for a special occasion to open up. There is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing a special bottle of wine into a restaurant to open. Most establishments are happy to open quality wines and will even waive their corkage if you order something else from their list. Sometimes it only takes a couple glasses of champagne to start with, a good idea regardless if they waive corkage or not. It is rare that a person who brings in an amazing bottle of wine to celebrate an occasion ever complains of corkage. More often than not it is the person who bought a fifteen dollar bottle of wine from trader joes, or a large party that just took their first trip up to Napa and brings in four different bottles in attempt to impress each other with their new found wine knowledge, that ever complains about corkage. Corkage is not a way to make money for a restaurant. Corkage is a means to allow people the privilege to bring in quality wine on certain occasions and break even. Say a restaurant charges a twenty dollar corkage. If a party brings in two bottles of wine, that's forty dollars in corkage. That party may take up a table that could have otherwise been given to a party that even if they purchased only one bottle of wine, would have generated anywhere from twenty-five dollars or more in profit. Corkage generates a marginal income for restaurants and really only exists in order for them to break even. Lastly, quality restaurants work tirelessly on their list and often hire people that specialize in wine to focus solely on their wine purchasing and serving. If you are a true diner, go out to a restaurant in order to experience what they have to offer, both in regards to the food they have prepared and the wine list they have created. If you feel their list is inadequate, but the food is phenomenal, then possibly bringing your own wine may be warranted. And finally, never bring a bottle of wine to a restaurant that they already have on their list. Its insulting to the restaurant and you look like an idiot.Please feel free to disagree, but just know, my blog won an American Squirrel Wine Blog Award and yours didn't. Don't believe me, check it out here at Las Flores Squirrels Blog.