Ask the Waiter – Offering the Waiter a Sip!

Dear Waiter

Once in a while I like to bring a bottle of wine that I saved for a special occasion with me to a nice restaurant. I always do the requisite things: Check to see if the restaurant allows this, check the price of corkage, and tip generously for wine service. One thing that I’ve always been confused about is whether or not I should offer my waiter a taste of the wine. I actually always do offer a taste since I think it’s the polite thing to do and I really don’t mind sharing a taste, but I’ve been met with a range of responses:

- Thanking me and pouring themselves a sip
– Thanking me and declining politely
– Declining and giving me the impression that was rude to offer up
– Pretending they didn’t hear me
– Thanking me and pouring themselves a full 4 oz pour (this really happened once with a bottle of Silver Oak)

What is the proper thing to do when you bring your own bottle? Offer a taste or not?

Thanks!
Ron

Dear Ron:

You do not have to offer a taste, but it’s a very cool thing to do. It is NEVER rude to offer the server a sip. Because of thoughtful customers like yourself, I’ve tasted many wines I couldn’t otherwise afford to sample.

A server’s proper reaction to your request should be:

– Thank you and pour themselves a sip – not a four ounce pour!
-. Thank you but decline politely.

Since you brought up the topic of bringing your own bottle to a restaurant, I’d like to go expand this topic further and go over some…..

Ground Rules for BYOB!

1. If the restaurant serves wine and you bring your own bottle, you will be charged a corking fee. That fee is usually equal to price of the cheapest bottle of wine the restaurant sells.

2. It is considered bad form to bring in a bottle of wine the restaurant already sells.

3. If you have any concerns about bringing your own bottle of wine to a restaurant, avoid trouble. Call the establishment ahead of time.

4. If you bring your own bottle of wine but purchase a bottle of equal or greater value, some restaurants, but certainly not all, might let you slide on the corking fee.

5. Please refrain from opening your own bottle. All waiters should have corkscrews. Besides, we can open a bottle better and faster than you. We’re experts.

6. Waiters will not dribble a bit of your BYOB wine into a glass and let you swirl and sniff it. The wine tasting liturgy is only for people buying wine in the restaurant. You already bought the wine. If it’s bad you’re screwed.

7. If the wine needs decanting, the wait staff is required to provide that service.

8. If the wine needs to be put on ice, the wait staff is required to provide that service.

9. It is polite to offer the server a taste but it is not required.

10. No, a waiter won’t run to the liquor store to buy you a bottle of wine.

11. Don’t throw a hissy fit over the glasses a restaurant uses. If you must use a Riedel glass, bring your own! I’ve seen it done.

Any other BYOB service suggestions? Complaints? Server gripes? Leave ‘em in the comments section.


Comments

Ask the Waiter – Offering the Waiter a Sip! — 5 Comments

  1. Nicely put. I would like to disagree with you on one point.

    6. Waiters will not dribble a bit of your BYOB wine into a glass and let you swirl and sniff it. The wine tasting liturgy is only for people buying wine in the restaurant. You already bought the wine. If it’s bad you’re screwed.

    This is not always so. Many retailers will refund the purchase of corked wine to the consumer. This is also true within the restaurant, corked wine refused by guest is returned to the wine merchant for credit.
    Therefore, it is wise to let your guest taste the wine before you pour it for the whole table.

  2. 12) If you’re bringing sparkling wine, make sure it doesn’t roll around in the back of the car on the way to the restaurant. I saw a waitress end up with half a bottle of Dom all over her due to her guests not realizing what happens to champagne when it gets agitated. Luckily they realized it was their mistake and laughed about it.

  3. At the chain restaurant where I serve, we would most likely be terminated if we tasted a guests wine for “drinking on the clock.” So that would certainly be why I would decline an offer for a taste!

  4. I know this is an old post, but I work at a BYOB Italian restaurant. When people offer me a taste, I very politely decline and thank them. However, it is WONDERFUL when a customer leaves 2 oz. or so of wine in the bottle and offers it to me at the end of their meal. We servers LOVE it when we have a nice stash of wines to taste at the end of our shift!

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