Saturday, January 10, 2009

Re: Corkage....

Socky recently made a very good suggestion - that I post on the corkage policies of restaurants. Though I am more than happy to do my little bit in disseminating handy info to fellow winos, I have 2 problems in doing so as regards corkage policies:

  1. Those precious few followers of my blog know that I regularly go to only a handful of restaurants. Consequently, I know the corkage policies of only those establishments.
  2. In some restaurants I frequent, I'm not really sure if my (and my regular group's) not being charged corkage is due to our being somewhat regular customers or if it is a policy they maintain for all customers.
With this caveat in mind, the corkage policies of the following establishments are, to the best of my knowledge, as follows (with proper qualifications as called for):

  • Lolodad's (Main) - No corkage

  • Pepato - No corkage (maybe just for regulars)

  • Mamou - No corkage

  • Je Suis Gourmand - P250 per bottle

  • Caruso's - P300 per bottle

  • Elbert's Steak Room - P500 per bottle

  • La Tienda - p500 per bottle

  • La Régalade - P500 per bottle

  • Antonio's Fine Dining - P550 per bottle

  • L'Opera - P750 per bottle

  • Sala Fine Dining - P750 per bottle

  • Sala Bistro - P750 per bottle

  • People's Palace - P750 per bottle

  • Aubergine - P750 per bottle

  • CAV - P750 per bottle

  • CiÇou - P1000 per bottle, waived during monthly special menus and promos

  • Old Manila* - P1500 per bottle

  • Tivoli* - P1500 per bottle

*These establishments, among others, have special arrangements with the International Wine & Food Society whereby the members thereof are extended certain courtesies.

Some of these restaurants discount or even waive their corkage - mostly for regular customers - but, sometimes, others do seemingly without rhyme or reason. Thus, I do not want to mention which do discount or waive since they do not do so as a matter of general policy. Of course, it is natural that regulars are extended special courtesies.

Hope that helps.

27 comments:

Miguel said...

Great list...sorry I was not able to "contribute"...but alol those you mention are probably the only ones I go to :)...

We should try to "expand" this list.

Chinkee said...

I think this was a great idea.:-)

I must say though that Caruso actually has a P300 corkage fee, although the last time I brought a bottle there they waived it. I guess it does pay to be a regular there.

As for Antonio's, they charged me P550 corkage the last time. I suppose they love you there, Noel, what can I say...:-)

Noel said...

No problem, we can expand it as able.

Actually, I tried to think of more the past two days but couldn't remember any others....

N

Noel said...

Thanks. The idea was Socky's, though, not mine.

Oh, I didn't know about the P300 corkage of Caruso's, will amend my post accordingly. I've been going there for years, but not so often lately. I've always sent Dario a glass from my bottle when I'm there. Maybe that helped. He's always been very friendly and welcoming though. Heh heh.

I'm actually not a regular at Antonio's. Miguel goes there more often. The distance is a big obstacle. Just been lucky I guess. Still, P550 is somewhat reasonable.

Best,

N

p.s. Life's too short to argue over chicken shawarma.

Chinkee said...

"Life's too short to argue over chicken shawarma."

Yikes... I knew someone would eventually say that. Hehe. I blame the Irish Pecker and this other drink called James the Evil Leprechaun. I suppose I should stay away from whiskey, and yes, not get my panties in a bundle over Chicken Shawarma. Sound advice:-)

Socky said...

Thanks, Noel.

Just before Christmas when I went to Mamou, they said they were waiving the corkage fee because it was the holidays. Looks like they've decided to waive it altogether, based on your list (or maybe you're a regular).

I hope restaurateurs realize that people who bring their own wines are paying their establishments the best compliment. You wouldn't waste your precious bottle on food that sucks, right? I love doing a BYOB in Je Suis Gourmand because the food makes me enjoy and really appreciate my wine.

I don't mind being charged a small corkage as I understand our use of their glasses and service entails some costs. Also, it may be reasonable for restaurants to charge some corkage fee if they have an extensive wine list (like Aubergine) and already carry the wine we're bringing. But most don't, so I don't understand a P750-P1000 corkage.

Anonymous said...

1 free corkage for every bottle that's been levied corkage is the most sensible policy in my view.

Noel said...

Also, it may be reasonable for restaurants to charge some corkage fee if they have an extensive wine list (like Aubergine) and already carry the wine we're bringing. But most don't, so I don't understand a P750-P1000 corkage.

My thoughts exactly, and I told this to Hans in Aubergine when I caught him alone once at the bar of Le Soufflé (Fort). He's a reasonable fellow. I also spoke to Cyrille's wife, Anna, about this.

I also agree that a reasonable corkage fee is called for, and qualify that this assumes acceptable stemware. I am not generally as finicky about stemware as the Doc (who usually brings his own Riedels) or Stockbroker, but for special wines, I am. If a restaurant doesn't have acceptable stemware and we use our own, I see no good reason to be charged corkage.

Restaurants with wine lists, of course, want to make money off their bottles, but, if the wines they have are not what I (or anyone else) drink/bring, P750 and above corkage will generally keep me away.

Best,

N

Noel said...

1 free corkage for every bottle that's been levied corkage is the most sensible policy in my view.

That is also quite reasonable, I agree. That would make a P1000 corkage effectively P500, which is still somewhat reasonable.

Elbert Cuenca said...

Hi Noel.

I just need to clarify our corkage policy. The Steak Room actually has a corkage fee or P500 per bottle. A lot of winos get the impression that we don't charge corkage, but it's only because I don't believe in taxing customers who simply want to enjoy their own good bottle of wine with our steaks. In that aspect, we waive the fee.

My guys are well versed enough to distinguish the cheapskate from the wine lover, but when it comes to corkage, we're pretty lenient. For example, if a customer brings three 'affordably-priced' bottles of the same kind, we'll probably waive corkage on the first one only. But if the bottle is a really cheap one, the corkage will be non-negotiable. We're even more lenient with regular customers, as many will attest, free corkage is automatic for them.

Besides, we have a pretty decent wine list, priced very well at that. Our customers who are aware of this no longer go out of their way to bring their own bottles into the restaurant.

Check out the wine list here: http://www.steakroom.com/Wine.html and here: http://www.steakroom.com/Private_Reserve.html

Thanks

Noel said...

Hi, Elbert.

Ok, thanks for the info. I amended my post accordingly. It's very true what you say, many are under the impression you don't charge corkage. I, myself, though not a regular, have been there 3 or 4 times (I think Alex was there every single time I was there) and have never been charged corkage - hence, my misimpression.

Best,

N

Ines said...

Agree with the Caruso thing- we've always brought our own wine and never paid anything- though like Noel we always share a glass with Dario whenever we see him. he he.

I also agree with the concept that bringing good, special, personal bottle of wine to a restaurant is a compliment to the food :)

Elbert- nice to know you consider us part of your wine lover crowd! We'll visit again soon! :)

"Wine is the music that fills the cup of silence"

Anonymous said...

for years now i've taken issue as to how fine wines are priced in all fine dining establishments in manila. until they're priced much more sensibly, i will continue to bring my own bottle and happily pay corkage! i believe many share my sentiment.

Noel said...

for years now i've taken issue as to how fine wines are priced in all fine dining establishments in manila. until they're priced much more sensibly, i will continue to bring my own bottle and happily pay corkage! i believe many share my sentiment.

Agreed, of course. That said, I think corkage should be reasonable. P1000 and up per bottle corkage isn't reasonable to my mind and will keep me away.

Corkage fees in such amounts as these are, as I see it, a way to "force" customers to buy wines off the wine list which usually are way over-priced and/or, at times, not up to snuff.

Best,

N

Anonymous said...

one reason why wine lists fail miserably, apart from sheer greed, is that the chef-owners don't know anything about wine. the sad thing is while the breadth and depth of wines available in the marketplace have grown and improved tremendously over the years, the quality of the wines lists have not.

Noel said...

the sad thing is while the breadth and depth of wines available in the marketplace have grown and improved tremendously over the years, the quality of the wines lists have not.

In general, yes, I definitely agree.

That said, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for restaurants to start offering good, mature, 1855 classified growths at reasonable mark ups. The only one in (relatively) recent memory was the old Soleil on Pasong Tamo Extension.

Elbert Cuenca said...

Thanks for correcting the list Noel. To further clarify, our P500 corkage is waived almost always, as it is based on the discretion of the owner. Normally, a tasting portion sent to him is all it takes, hehe.

To some of the commenters, please don't generalize. Not all restaurants are greedy. Not all restaurants have a bad wine list. Not all owners are clueless with wines.

At the risk of sounding defensive, I will stress that the Steak Room makes it a point to list a decent selection of wines, and price them very reasonably. As a customer, I detest having to pay 3X the value for any bottle (which is typical in the restaurant industry). This is my restaurant's wines are priced typically just 20% over retail price (much less for premiere and grand cru), which I think is more than reasonable considering the investment I've made in proper storage, Riedel Vinum stemware, Riedel decanters, and in adequate stocks of the wines themselves.

Thanks for hearing me out.

Cheers!

Noel said...

Hi, again, Elbert.

Yes, I have followed the link to your wine list. I am familiar with some of the wines on your list (especially the few I buy myself from Alex's shop) and agree that your mark-ups are, indeed, very reasonable.

The reason I reflected your corkage is because it is possible that some of the types "unqualified" (for lack of a better term) for free corkage sometimes think they are and might demand for that courtesy when they go to the Steak Room (assuming, of course, those types read my blog). Mahirap na.

I'm sure you've encountered the type.

N

Anonymous said...

the Steak Room is one of my favorite places to dine. the food deserves to be paired with very fine wines. thanks to generous company, i've drank several 100-pointers there and there's no better compliment to its owners. but quite honestly, i struggle to pick out a wine from the private reserve list. Ps31000 for a cheval blanc? maybe for a 1998 but not a 2001. that said, i have chosen wines from the regular list.

Noel said...

but quite honestly, i struggle to pick out a wine from the private reserve list. Ps31000 for a cheval blanc? maybe for a 1998 but not a 2001.

Considering that they probably buy from (a) local supplier(s), that price is not surprising. Can't compare local prices and prices in US...but, then, I'm sure we both know that well.

Anonymous said...

noel- you're right in that respect. maybe when you get a chance, furnish us a short list of restaurants whose wine list you deem worthy.

Noel said...

maybe when you get a chance, furnish us a short list of restaurants whose wine list you deem worthy.

Heh heh heh...worthy of what and/or whom?

You're going to get me in hot water with a lot of people, my friend....

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