Virginia has passed a law allowing restaurants (as of today) to allow their customers to bring their own wine to dinner. The restaurants will charge a “corkage fee” for each bottle. Frank Morgan has a great post about the ins, outs, and etiquette of the whole thing, so that saves me some typing. You can read it for details and come back. Go on. I’ll wait right here.
I’m excited, because we frequented an amazing Vietnamese-fusion restaurant back in Arizona that charged a $3 corkage. The owner loved it because she didn’t have to deal with wine (there, you could offer corkage without an alcohol license – gotta love places less Puritanical than the stupid East Coast), and we could bring whatever we had that sounded good.
In reading Frank’s post (see? You should have read it) and the article he links to, it sounds like many restaurants are planning on charging some hefty corkage fees, twenty bucks and up. I get that they’re worried because alcohol has a huge margin in their business, and you also don’t want crap bottles coming in. The thing is, if the higher end restaurants want to do this – it makes sense. Fancy wines and high prices are all a part of the theater that is a dinner at a place like this. Why water down the experience?
That said, I really hope the neighborhood, mom & pop places get on board with this and don’t charge punitive corkage fees for folks who don’t want a $35 bottle of Ecco Domani crap. Here’s my argument: we have a little family-run Italian joint down the street. Like, REALLY family run. When we walk in for takeout, there’s a phalanx of all their kids standing at the register. It’s a little intimidating, actually. Like coming face to face with a weird cross of the Osmonds and Jersey Shore.
Anyhow, the food is quite good; we even gave it a mention when we opened Potomac Point’s Abbinato. However, we rarely eat there, and if we do it’s what the French refer to as un chew et screw. In, out, back home. We do takeout so we can pair it with wine we like, because their wine list kinda sucks.
So if they were to charge, say, a $5-8 corkage? I’d totally eat in more often. Which would mean tips for the servers, and let’s be honest. If we’re bringing a bottle of wine, we’re more likely to order an appetizer or dessert or both. That tiramisu does look mighty tasty…
So what say you? At what price would you say “dude, that’s a totally reasonable corkage fee” and boogie on down to the neighborhood eatery (with your fav VA wine in tow, natch)?
The Corkage, Baby! by Swirl, Sip, Snark, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.