Most fine dining establishments will let diners bring in a special bottle of their own wine for a corkage fee: a charge, generally $10 to $30, for opening a bottle they didn’t sell you. The rules around this vary restaurant to restaurant, and candidly can be pretty vague—which works for the restaurants. Why make it easy to enable diners to avoid the major markups that restaurants levy on wine?
(The general clarity I can offer: Most restaurants appreciate an advance phone call if you’re bringing a bottle—both to let them know and to ensure that you’re not bringing a bottle they already have on their list, a major no-no. The spirit of the gesture is special bottle, not cheapo bottle, so no Two Buck Chuck. And always share some with the sommelier, which is just a nice thing to do.)
Sullivan’s Steakhouse downtown just made things even clearer, in a win-win arrangement with the terrific Capitol Hill wine shop, European Vine Selections. Any bottle you purchase there, Sullivan’s will open and pour free of charge.
“We’re just doing it with European Vine for the moment, but in time other shops may get on board,” says Sullivan’s GM Dan Prentice. Hope they do...it's a great idea.