save money, pay corkage

by Jasmine Turner on June 2, 2009

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Do you enjoy dining out but worry about the cost? Do you want to save money on the drinks portion of your restaurant bill? I suggest bringing your own wine to places that allow corkage. It’s cost effective and you know that you’ll be drinking something that you love.


I hadn’t done this much myself until a few years ago I noticed an attractive couple entering the hotel restaurant across the street where I used to live. The Majestic Restaurant is a fancy high priced establishment, and yet the guy was carrying a bottle of wine under his arm as he exited his car and went in. “Bingo!” A lightbulb went off in my head because this guy was going to save a chunk off the check by bringing his own bottle. Wine out can cost two to three times or more what you’d pay to purchase it at a wine shop. That guy looked glamorous to me: he drove a nice car, was going to a nice place and was smart about it. It was that sighting that prompted me to ask around about the corkage policies at the places my husband, my friends and I like to eat. I recommend you call before your reservation. I first tried this at Jardinière. They were really cool about it and charge only $25. This represents a $75 savings if you plan to order any sparkling wine there, and you can cut back on your cocktail ordering because you know you already have a great bottle of bubbly waiting to drink! Many other local restaurants do corkage too:

Piperade in the Embarcadero: $20
Kokkari: $20
Fior d’Italia: $18
Weird Fish in the Mission: $15
Bella Venezia: free!
Most Indian and Thai Restaurants in the Tenderloin or Tandoorloin: free.

If you are shy about it just pick up the phone and call the place you are going. Be brave! Simply ask, “Do you allow corkage and if so how much is it?” The high end places seem to be around 25-bucks right now, but I have heard from my other WC pals who went to Gary Danko it was around 30-bucks.

If they don’t allow it you can just drink a round of cocktails at home and still save. Try it! You will be amazed that it’s not that hard to do. If your waiter likes you and you tip him/her decently, you could even get lucky and have the corkage fee waived. Write in and tell us where you’ve gone and used corkage. Cheers!

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Kirk Di Santi June 2, 2009 at 10:45 am

I’ve done this at Delfina before. They were very nice about it though I felt anxious at first. When they opened the bottle (I brought a 2006 Chateauneuf du Pape) the waiter sniffed the open bottle. I think that he was very curious about the wine. Maybe I should have offered him a taste? Anyway, I recommend corkage too.

Rita Tower June 2, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I am totally doing corkage next time I go out!

Holly Z June 6, 2009 at 12:04 pm

I do this often and you can almost ALWAYS get the corkage waived by offering the waiter a “taste” of the wine. It is best to try and bring something obscure so that you do not end up bringing in something offered on the wine list…not very glamorous!

Jasmine Turner June 7, 2009 at 1:11 pm

I found out Espetus the Brazillian steakhouse offers 20 dollar corkage! Also Gamine at 2223 Union street charges 20-dollars as well. Cafe De La Press only charges 15-dollars, as well as the place at the top of the Grand Hyatt Grandviews.

xanthe August 9, 2009 at 1:42 am

Bella Venizia on Post and Jones doesn’t charge corkage!

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