Just keep in mind that BYOB is a privilege, not a right. Like all privileges, they are not created equally. Respect the BYOB and what might you get in return?
-Reduced or ”forgotten” corkage fees.
-Magically appearing better glassware.
-Discounts on or exclusive access to some hidden gems in the wine cellar.
They’ve all happened to me, but first I learned to respect the BYOB. Here are five tips to help you become a responsible BYOBer.
Photo courtesy superclops via Flickr/CC
Don’t Bring Crap
Remember that whole privilege thing? By bringing crap wine to a restaurant, you are basically letting the restaurant know that you don’t really think much of them, or their clientele for that matter.
Plopping down an opened jug of cheap wine might fly at some roadside BBQ joint (though then again, maybe not), but if you are dining in a decent restaurant, make an effort to ensure that the wine you bring is in line with the restaurant’s price level.
That doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money, but remember you are SAVING money by bringing your own wine. So, splurge a bit and at least get something that doesn’t advertise you as a cheapskate.
Photo courtesy Lindztrom via Flickr/CC
Offer Your Server a Taste
Not all servers are interested in wine, but I have found that most are. By offering them a taste of your wine, perhaps with a few points about why you brought it, why it pairs with the food and why it’s drinking well, you can establish a rapport with your server, and perhaps the manager or owner.
That rapport generally pays off with rich dividends in the form of reduced corkage rates or, in some cases, the outright elimination of them. By proving that you are an affable oenophile, anxious to share your great experience with the world instead of a simple cheap bastard, you can create the impression that you are actually bringing something to the restaurant with each visit. That might be staff education or it might be ambiance or it might be other well-heeled friends. The point is, the restaurant will begin to see you as an asset, not a liability.
Photo courtesy alee_04 via Flickr/CC
Don’t Be a Weekend Abuser
Your favorite restaurant is doing you a favor by allowing you to BYOB, so why don’t you repay them once in awhile. Restaurants are open on slow nights because they need the money to pay the bills and the staff. Why not plan a nice BYOB dinner out with friends during the slower nights of the week?
Look at it this way, you’ll have a more relaxing evening without the rush of a full restaurant. Your server will be more attentive to you, and you can reciprocate. Your generosity will stand out and be remembered by the staff, and they are more likely to “forget the corkage,” or maybe a few desserts, that should have been added to the bill.
My favorite night for BYOB is Sunday, when many restaurants are slow and the staff tends to be tired after the busy weekend nights. Coming with an easygoing group who won’t mind slowed service and will be generous regardless seems to ensure that we are always greeted warmly.
Photo courtesy flyzipper via Flickr/CC
Be Generous, You Cheapskate
I have a few favorite spots were I BYOB frequently. Some charge my corkage irregularly, others regularly do not charge me. What’s the difference? Mainly the frequency of my visits, but also the rules that I play with.
When I BYOB, a restaurant pretty much knows they’re giving up that table for the night, and so does the service staff. I’ve come in, saved money by bringing my own wine and taken potential tips off the table that staff. The only reasonable thing to do is to tip some of that cash back into the waiters’ pockets. Everybody is a winner in that case.
Waiters love me because they’ve made the money they expected to make with less effort than if they had to turn the table. Owners love me because their wait staff is happy to work on slower nights knowing the BYOB guy is coming in. And, I am happy because I’m getting great service!
Photo courtesy Manny Hernandez via Flickr/CC
What’s Missing From the picture?
I come from a restaurant background and mostly worked in the kitchen, yet I have not even mentioned the kitchen staff. We frequently forget about the folks working in 100 degree heat cooking our food for us, and that’s a bad thing.
I regularly bring multiple bottles of wine to my BYOB dinners, and often serve the wines in flights with a pair of whites to start. Once my group is done with those wines, I suggest to the restaurant that the kitchen staff might want to taste them.
It is a small gesture but it certainly can help with subsequent courses. Maybe my plate gets an extra shaving of truffle, for example. It can also pay real dividends if you ever need to sit down with the chef to plan out a food and wine pairing menu! Okay, that might not happen too often, but it’s also just the right thing to do.
Photo courtesy Wil Wright via Flickr/CC
Want to Learn More?
Ever wonder What Makes Moscato d'Asti Special? Find out!