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BYO Wine and Corkage


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A review I was reading recently bought to my attention the fact than many of London's top restaurants allow customers to bring their own wine. The Capital and The Greenhouse charge no corkage and places like Chez Bruce and Club Gascon charge £9. Nigel Platts-Martin is quoted as saying “Any sensible restaurant would encourage it” but it is reported that no more than a dozen guests request to bring their own wine. I don’t know a lot about wine but have got three decent bottles at the moment, a Cos D’Estournel 1985, Grand Vin de Leoville 97 and a Chateau Decru Beaucaillou 1989, which I would like to drink with some food far better than I can make myself. Has anyone taken their own bottle along to a restaurant, should I ring in advance to let them know, give them the bottle a day before so they can decant it or is that too risky?

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Charlene, I had a Ducru Beaucaillou 94 at Comme Chez Soi a couple of weeks ago and I loved it :smile: I'm sure SteveP is right, but if indeed the wine I had would get even better in a few years, then I'm certainly going to be looking for it on wine lists everywhere

Personally, I would never BMO for choice. It's too much hassle to cart a bottle or two around, and if I'm going to a high-class restaurant I'd much rather trust their judgement than mine on wine. Sure, I know I'll pay a premium for that, but the £50 markup, say, that I'll pay is likely to be not very significant in the context of the total bill.

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We did a dinner last week for some guests going shooting the next day.They brought some 30 year old port.Corkage was a taste of the port and a brace of pheasant :biggrin:

You must have had a lot of confidence in their shooting ability :smile: But then I guess you'd have settled for a brace of sheepdogs if their aim had been way off :laugh:

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Nigel Platts-Martin is quoted as saying “Any sensible restaurant would encourage it” but it is reported that no more than a dozen guests request to bring their own wine.      I don’t know a lot about wine but have got three decent bottles at the moment, a Cos D’Estournel 1985, Grand Vin de Leoville 97 and a Chateau Decru Beaucaillou 1989, which I would like to drink with some food far better than I can make myself.  Has anyone taken their own bottle along to a restaurant, should I ring in advance to let them know, give them the bottle a day before so they can decant it or is that too risky?

I agree it`s great to BYO and I think most restaurants will indeed allow it, but that restaurateur who was quoted as saying restaurants should actively encourage this was being a bit disingenuous...

Isn't this the biggest area of profit for a restaurant, Basildog ? Surely a restaurant would rather make the markup on the Ch. Decru - probably would be listed at £130-140 or something - than encourage you to bring your own...

As for your wine... Is your Leoville a 'grand vin', or is it a Lascases or Barton or something? '97 is considered an 'early drinking year' in general so if it's a generic grand vin then you could drink it sooner than later.

I don't think you need to hold onto either the '85 or the '89 for so much longer, the French drink their wines earlier than we do anyway, and I just called some friends who opened their Ch. Decru Beaucaillou '89 last week and said it was fab. Enjoy !

If you had a load of this wine in bond or not easily accessible to you, and you didn't want to break open a case, I'd say you'd be better off ordering it at the restaurant to test it out before opening yours.

All that said...yes you should definitely call the restaurant ahead of time and let them know you're bringing your own, and do bring the wine ahead of time (a day is good) This should not be a risk at a good restaurant. Also make sure the sommelier knows what time your reservation is so he/she can make sure to decant it however far in advance he/she sees fit... Nice also to offer him/her a taste if you particularly like the service and are feeling generous ! They should treat you just as well as if you purchased the wine from them.

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But if the restaurant charges say £25 per bottle corkage,then it makes that money for free as it were. It hasn't had to buy or store the wine or absorb the cost of corked bottles and other wastage. The alternative may not be that expensive wine is bought but that cheap wine or even no wine is bought.

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Thanks Magnolia, all great advice. We only have one bottle of each (wedding gifts) and are intending to drink them on our anniversary over the coming years, also have a few Pomerols, '98 and '94 I think?. Our anniversary coincides with the Ludlow Food Festival so I have just booked Hibiscus and Merchant House for next Sept so was thinking of taking the Cos D'Estournel with us. I was intending on opening the other two in the next 2-3 years but can hold on to them if it would be best...

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Just for the record, Robert Parker, not that he is the only or the best for this information, but he is somewhat of a reliable one, recommends that the '85 Cos be drunk between 1994 and 2010. So in another 2-3 years it will be fully mature. He recommends the '89 Ducru be drunk between 2001 and 2020. So if you drink it now it's at the very young side of the maturity spectrum. Personally, that is way too young for my taste as it won't have developed sufficient secondary flavors yet. You need to get up around 2010-2012 for it to be what they call "a point" or perfectly ready to drink. If you save that bottle, you will be rewarded for your patience.

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I don't stock 30 year old port.These were regulars, and i only mentioned the pheasant as they were leaving...ie" if you get some, you could drop 2 off for me"

I was on a road trip this weekend and there seemed to be loads of pheasants hopping about - and, er, formerly hopping about. Maybe they were avoiding the shoots, but apparently they weren't fearful enough of motor vehicles either ! Basildog - what's your policy on road kill? :rolleyes:

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In the Hamptons we have wild pheasant running all over the subdivision we live in. You see them crossing the road all of the time. They are free to roam until the local fox (providing he hasn't been shot by a farmer) catches one of them for dinner. But I haven't seen one turn up at dinner anywhere, or stuffed and over a mantle. We're civilized in this country.

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In the Hamptons we have wild pheasant running all over the subdivision we live in...

Egad ! Subdivisions in the Hamptons ! Steve, you've just busted my romantic, nay, aspirational vision of Eden...I guess even the Hamptons have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth...

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Egad ! Subdivisions in the Hamptons ! Steve, you've just busted my romantic, nay, aspirational vision of Eden...

Maggie - Well they had to figure out how to carve up those old potato farms somehow so they could build houses on them. But they made each subdivision set aside two thirds of the land as reserves so what you get are clusters of houses around a common open area and it doesn't seem overbuilt.

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Charlene-there's a reason why The Greenhouse doesn't charge corkage. They don't allow BYO.

but it said so in the article I read! bloody journalists you can't trust them.

link to article but I think it is subscription only

so here is the relevant bit..."Joe Levin of the Capital Hotel and The Greenhouse is similarly welcoming; indeed of all the restaurants I contacted none said it would ever refuse a customer who wanted to bring his or her own wine (and especially not at lunch), provided they discuss this when booking"

published in July 2002 on ThisisLondon.co.uk, outrageous...

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Phoned today to book. Didn't even specify lunch or dinner but asked about their BYO policy. The woman said it would be "allright" bit couldn't tell me if there was corkage or how much. A chap came on the line and when I asked about BYO he said "actually we don't allow it". Decided not to book.

So someone's got it wrong somewhere.

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this really annoys me; the MD is quoted as saying "yes, we think it's a fabulous idea, please come and spend your money at our restauant" yet front of house are saying the opposite. Have just written an email to Evening Standard about it but now thinking about it I will write one to Joe Levin as well.

edit: letter duly written.

Edited by Charlene Leonard (log)
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Dear Charlene

I am terribly sorry but The Greenhouse misinformed you (it was a new member

of staff that you spoke to and I have since updated them!) Our company

policy is as Joe Levin said, we charge the same price as our house wine and

house champagne as a corkage charge.

Do come back to me if there is anything else you would like to know or

indeed if you would like to speak to Joe Levin further on the subject.

With best wishes

Julie Millar

looks like you can book that table now Tony!

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but it said so in the article I read!  bloody journalists you can't trust them.

Hey, I resemble that remark !

Anyway, obviously the pen is mightier than the sword...after that article was printed, so many people started bringing their own wine that the restaurant changed its mind ! :smile:

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