Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

BYO Wine and Corkage


Recommended Posts

  • 2 weeks later...

Tony, be very interested to know Chez Max goes. We took the kids there when it was Parisienne Chophouse after an afternoon at the Science Museum and was disappointed to be at one of only two occupied tables. I had hoped to give the kids a taste of what dinning out in London is like. Food was very indenti-kit Marco, although well executed. I didn't like the basement room very much but I'm sure it's a different space when it's busy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have just booked Hibiscus and Merchant House for next Sept so  was thinking of taking the Cos D'Estournel with us.

I am going to The Merchant House tomorrow and was just looking at the wine list which you can see here. It does seem to be incredibly well priced especially compared to London prices. At the lower end, he is selling Isabel Estate Sauv Blac for £17.50 which will cost you £34.00 at Chez Bruce. It retails at around £11.00 at my local wine shop. I'm not sure about the higher end of the list, but mark up do generally seem to be less than greedy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But if the restaurant charges say £25 per bottle corkage,then it makes that money for free as it were.

True. But your are not going to drink the wine from the bottle. Or bring your own glass and waiter to serve this for you. I think the restaurant has to make some profit as a way to compensate the service offered. Also, considering that restaurants price structure for drinks is selling them by multiplying the cost of the bottle by 3 or four times, if there was a wine that for example was paid, let’s say, £ 30, this will be sold at around £ 100 in the restaurant. So in this case they are loosing around £ 40-50 compared to what they would gain with

£ 25 corkage

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So in this case they are loosing around £ 40-50 compared to what they would gain with

£ 25 corkage

Sure,but only on the assumption that customers will spend the £100. They may choose a much cheaper wine,or even no wine at all rather than subscribe to those kind of prices.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have done this topic rather to death before. But the question is generally why is such a bizarre pricing structure adopted?

There are two components to the costs the restaurant has to recover:

1. Variable: including wastage (corked et al), VAT, return on capital - which should be charged as a % mark-up

and then

2. Fixed costs: wine-glasses, somebody to uncork, carry bottle over, pour - which should be charged as a fixed cost.

Using a completely variable mark-up means for a more expensive wine the restaurant charges a totally disproportionate price:

This results in diners

a) not ordering better wine - and getting irritated at the wine they can afford to drink at any sensible price-point.

b) resenting the restaurant for blatant profiteering

c) suspecting the restaurant (unjustly) of operating this level of profit on lower cost items.

Colin Spencer in 'British Food: 1000 years of pie' partially attributes this to constraints in WWII the maximum that could be charged for food at a restaurant was 5s and hence a disproportionate mark-up on wine has developed.

Wilma squawks no more

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I've said this before as well,but I think its purely because the British customer is prepared to pay these prices. Everybody realises that a restaurant has to make a profit, but most people have an in built sense of the difference between that and profiteering. Yet people seem quite happy tp pay rippoff priced for wine in restaurants.

Maybe in the UK its because wine is still seen by many as a "luxury" product. Chatting to a restaurant owner and avid wine collector in Catalonia last year I remarked on how reasonable his wine prices seemed . He remarked frankly that Spanish consumers would never ever pay the kind of mark ups seen on wine lists in the UK and if he charged too much he just wouldn't sell the wine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But the question is generally why is such a bizarre pricing structure adopted?

Dear Gavin,

I wish all the restaurants would apply a well thought price structure as you say. Sometimes I have the impression that some restaurateurs decide what prices to charge by simply going out to other places and just double up whatever they paid for their meal! How would you justify then £18-20 for a humble plate of pasta, which probably has £1 or £2 worth of ingredients, or £25 for a fillet of Seabass? (As you might have guessed, this was one of my last dining experiences!)... Well, I'm not going to continue down this line; otherwise I'm going to lose the thread of this topic!

Going back to Steve P, and the comment about corkage:

' They don't charge for tap water and the service effort isn't that much different then wine',

Well Steve, what you are saying makes sense, but these poor chaps have to charge for something, at the end of the day they run a business and not a charity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How would you justify then £18-20 for a humble plate of pasta, which probably has £1 or £2 worth of ingredients, or £25 for a fillet of Seabass? (As you might have guessed, this was one of my last dining experiences!)...

You ate at Locanda Locatelli then :biggrin:

There is no specific regulation upon restaurants charging for tap water

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

BTW when I rang Le Gavroche and asked if I could BYO I was told "not normally". When I asked what that meant I was told "it depends on the client". I was then asked to hold and someone else came on and asked what I wanted. I was then told that BYO was "not possible". I was tempted to make up a "don't you know who I am" routine but couldn't be arsed.

Edited by Tonyfinch (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mogsob, you'd have thought so but that's not the way it appears to work. Most places (though not all) appear to charge more corkage than the price of their cheapest wine. At The Square their are several wine on the list for less than £25.

I suppose they don't want to be seen to be actively encouraging BYO as selling wine is their major profit area. Make it too cheap and too many people might start doing it. It's interesting how virtually all of the people who answered the phones in the restaurants I rang had to ask their managers what the BYO policy was, indicating that it is a rarely asked question.

QC in Holborn, however, charge a mere £5 corkage so go figure, as our American friends say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
But if the restaurant charges say £25 per bottle corkage,then it makes that money for free as it were.

True. But your are not going to drink the wine from the bottle. Or bring your own glass and waiter to serve this for you. I think the restaurant has to make some profit as a way to compensate the service offered. Also, considering that restaurants price structure for drinks is selling them by multiplying the cost of the bottle by 3 or four times, if there was a wine that for example was paid, let’s say, £ 30, this will be sold at around £ 100 in the restaurant. So in this case they are loosing around £ 40-50 compared to what they would gain with

£ 25 corkage

Lucrezia,

this example has no basis in reality.

BYO should cost no more than a bottle of house wine.

A customer has no obligation to pump a restaurant's beverage GP just because they can't price their food properly and need the money.

Some places seem to think average spend per head is a totally flexible, dynamic equation - ergo that customers are lemmings with cash.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But if the restaurant charges say £25 per bottle corkage,then it makes that money for free as it were.

BYO should cost no more than a bottle of house wine.

A customer has no obligation to pump a restaurant's beverage GP just because they can't price their food properly and need the money.

Oh, but they can cost their restaurant accordingly! That's why the wine is pricey and helps to subside the food costs. DOn't forget that it's a very competitive business and the 'average' diner (whoever he/she may be!) looks at the cost of the food principally - they may complain about the wine costs but it is the actual cost of the food they compare to other places. You may not but a business is not run based on 8 people but based on the overall revenue produced.

Sorry, but you have to look at the situation "as is" not how you or others think it should be. It is, after all, a business not some kind of charity organization.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So in this case they are loosing around £ 40-50 compared to what they would gain with

£ 25 corkage

Sure,but only on the assumption that customers will spend the £100. They may choose a much cheaper wine,or even no wine at all rather than subscribe to those kind of prices.

Yes, but Tony the bottom line is still the bottom line whether you or I would order a £100 bottle or not. If the establishment gets it's sums right it will still be here in five years time regardless of what you or I think about their wine costs because, bottom line again, they obviously know their business better than you or I.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Corkage fee should be set around the margin the restaurant makes on the its top tier wines. If their top wine (not the odd super bottle) is, say

50 pounds, and their margin on it is, say 25 pounds, then their corkage fee should be around 25 pounds. That is assuming their food prices justify that. If we're talking about a 5 pound (sorry, I can't find the pound sign) main course average, then corkage should be in line with that.

If their top tier wines are 100 pds, then I can see a corkage of 30-40 pds as justifiable (assuming that's their margin on them).

We had a debate recently with a new restaurant in Brooklyn that wanted to charge $30 per bottle corkage. Their most expensive wine was $40. The average main course was $14. After making the case, they reduced the corkage charge to $25 for all three bottles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently took a wine which currently costs £180 pounds at Oddbins to The Square, which charged me £25 corkage on it. The same wine was on their list for just over £400. The restaurant only loses if I was to either:

a) buy the wine from their list at £400- not a possibility

b) buy an alternative wine on which they were going to make more than a £25 profit- maybe I will or maybe I won't and they don't know which.

From a business point of view it makes sense to relieve me of £25 (£50, actually because I took 2 bottles) for doing nothing more than pulling the cork and giving me a glass, than to refuse to allow me to BYO and run the risk that I'll drink tap water all night or order two wines on which they won't make £50.

Edited by Tonyfinch (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The restaurant only loses if I was to either:

a) buy the wine from their list at £400- not a possibility

b) **buy an alternative wine on which they were going to make more than a £25 profit- maybe I will or maybe I won't and they don't know which.**

From a business point of view it makes sense to relieve me of £25 (£50, actually because I took 2 bottles) than refuse to allow me to BYO and **run the risk that I'll drink tap water all night**

Tony -- The Square would make Pounds 25 profit on most of the bottles on its list. Also, very few clients of The Square would likely be willing to drink tap water throughout the meal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...