Corkage

Reply

Jan 16th, 2006, 06:07 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 159
Corkage

How widely parcticed is this, and will I be frowned upon for suggesting such a thing? The reason I ask is that Le Quartier Francais told me it was not recommended since they have a big wine cellar. Oh my. I never thought of that. Not sure if I want to press the issue with them, though.
lessthanzero is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 06:42 AM
  #2
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Unless a restaurant or hotel doesn't serve wine and allows/suggests that patrons can BYO (where they will provide set-ups), then corkage charges are applied, if they even allow you to drink from your own bottle.

You will find a wide array of excellent wines at Le Quartier Francais; I'm sure you'll find one to your liking. And the prices are quite reasonable.
 
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 06:45 AM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 159
I'm obviously ok with the corkage charge. I was in fact surprised to find this service offered at all. And I have no problem believing that LQF has a nice wine cellar, I'd be surprised if it didn't. But since I'll be dining at places like that a lot, I was intrigued by the option of reducing costs a little (or just stepping up on the wine).
lessthanzero is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 07:02 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 51
I eat out a lot in Cape Town and most places charge corkage. But if you take the price of the wine plus the corkage it is still a lot cheaper than buying wine at the restuarant. Some restuarnats (like Bosmans @ the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl) have such a fantastic wine list - I wouldn't take my own wine. One of the reasons I go there is to be able to get a 2000 Thelema Cabernet, for example, that you can't get in the shops: shops only sell the latest vintages. If you want to see how the locals eat out try the Cattle Barons in Plattekloof. No corkage. We always go there because they don't charge corkage. But it really is not a fancy LQF experience.
leanapayne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 07:05 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 51
oh my goodness....did i really type restuarnats!!! I must be tired...!
leanapayne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 07:13 AM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 159
I see that I created some confusion around what my question really was. Due to my inexperience with being able to bring my own wine (and not being a native speaker), I asked about the corkage fee and not what really wondered, which is

"How normal is it to be able to BYO wine?" And it is frowned upon to do so?
lessthanzero is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 07:27 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 51
in most places it is normal and the fee is about R20 or R30. Only a few places don't allow it. You just need to check with them first.
leanapayne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 08:22 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,823
I guess it never occured to me to take my own wine to a restaurant in South Africa!

When we went to Cape Town and Franschhoek, we lived in Cairo - which had VERY, VERY limited wine selections. So we were SO happy to be able to order nice SA wines....it didn't cross our minds to bring our own!

We stayed at Le Quarier Francais and they brought a lovely glass of chardonnay (and some cokes for the kids) to us when we checked in. We did not, however, have dinner there.

Living overseas - in places NOT known for wine - I have learned to appreciate so many things! One of them is the ability to order a decent wine with dinner!

My suggestion.....order wine from the restaurant, make a mental note of the ones you really like, then buy some of the bottles to take home and enjoy as you look over your photographs.

Grcxx3 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 08:56 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 983
BYO is extremely common in South African restaurants, except for ones like Le Quartier Francais which is really a wine cellar that also sells gourmet food. SA restaurants don't have as big a markup on wine as American restaurants do, so you can expect much lower than in the US, both in restaurants and in the bottle stores.
Celia is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 08:57 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 983
Oops!

I meant "much lower prices", not just "much lower".
Celia is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 08:58 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097
LessThan Zero

You have touched a hobby horse of mine.

Firstly corkage or byo can generally be paid in restaurants all over Cape Town and when doing so I find that one would be paying anything from R15-R25 per bottle in some really good eateries. If the corkage is higher than this I have my own way of handling matters. See later!

There are some restaurants that will charge in excess of R25/bottle eg if you went to a restaurant in Cape Town called “The Chef “you would pay R50 per bottle. Some restaurants dont allow corkage at all. In actual fact the restaurants that charge high corkage fees are simply trying to discourage one from bringing their own wines to their establishment

If one goes down the Garden Route you will find that the cost of corkage drops dramatically and many restaurants don’t charge any corkage at all.

I have a long personal history of collecting wines and have a private cellar that is well stocked with vintage red wines that we have been collecting for more than 30 years. We presently are drinking 1990 reds and seemingly our timing has been good over the years because right now these wines, which have been very carefully selected at the time of purchase, are at their peak or just over it. Most important is the fact that they make for wonderful complimentary functions to a good meal.

Now here’s my gripe. When I contact a restaurant in Cape Town to make a reservation unless I know their byo rules I always ask if they have a corkage rule. Generally, as I have already said, they all say yes and I think that R15-R25 is attainable as a corkage price in 80% of restaurants. If the restaurateur says that they want to charge a corkage fee of lets say R50/bottle or possibly says that they don’t allow byo at all then I mention to the party that I have a very special wine collection and that the wines that I will be bringing to the table he/she certainly will not have in stock and will certainly not be “plonk”. Furthermore the wine would be a wonderful complimentary function to the meal served. which if the chef of the restaurant really wants me to enjoy he should in my opinion be very happy that I want to compliment his superb cooking with a wonderful red. Once I have mentioned this I ask the restaurateur to reconsider his/her position. I also want to add that I would never byo when it comes to white wines as I would only ask for the facility for my vintage reds. If the restaurateur does not heed to my plea I simply don’t go to the restaurant. That’s it as there are tons of other restaurants that are as good if not better in the Cape Town and Garden Route region.

My problem really emanates from the fact that I visit many winefarms and have a very good idea of price and quality of wines. What I am seeing is that many restaurants have absolutely outrageous prices relative to what they pay for the wines. This can charge up to 200% extra and in some case even more. I wont question the fact that some places will have special wines however being a wine collector myself and knowing exactly what it costs to store wines even these wines are ridiculously overpriced and all that I see when I come up against this is greed, greed, greed. Thus I vote with my feet.

Besides the fact that I think the food in many of the restaurants that wont allow corkage or charge ridiculous corkage fees is highly overpriced, I have also found that the quality of these venues can generally be beaten by many surrounding restaurants. This is exactly why I do NOT eat at Bosmans as an example because one can go to Marc’s Mediterranean restaurant or Pontac which are two restaurants 500 yards down the road from Bosmans where one can eat wonderful food at excellent prices with very reasonably priced wines that certainly are of a high quality. (Sorry Leanapayne but that my thoughts about Bosmans relative to places that surround the venue)

LessThanZero I do appreciate that most do not have a wine collection like mine to enjoy so what happens to me does not apply to you as an example. With that said I do believe that you should always ask upfront if the restaurant has a corkage policy and if it does not have one then view the place with circumspect because you will more than likely find a similar if not better place over the road where a corkage policy does exist and the wine e pricing as well as quality is so good that it would not even be worth your while taking your own wines at all.

My overall tip to you is that if you find that the restaurant says that they d not have a corkage policy or that they want to charge you R30 or more per bottle then be aware that you probably are on the “rip off strip”; as a matter of fact in my opinion this would be a very good guide for you to pre-evaluate a restaurant by in terms of its overall pricing function.

Just my two sips worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 09:24 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 159
Selwyn,

I do not have your wine cellar (but would love to visit it), but I do enjoy a fine bottle of red (and this is part of the reason I am going to SA in the first place). Here in the states doing so at a restaurant is often prohibitively expensive. This is because it is so much faster to turn a buck if you just sell an expensive wine, which is very often more than the cost of the meal, but with much less preparation required. This is fine for the occasional dining experience, but if dining out every day for several weeks, it can cut into your wallet.

Anyway. I have seen your posts on restaurants in the winelands so I know you've eaten your way around. We will be based in Franschhoek and I am looking for good restaurants there. So far I settled on LQF and Reuben's, but am willing to reconsider and take advice. (I am also going to try Bread & Wine and Fromagerie for lunch if it fits the schedule.)

For Cape Town I have set my sights on Zingara, Savoy Cabbage, Africa Cafe and Kalkies (the two first ones charge 20).

LTZ
lessthanzero is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2006, 10:32 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
I agree 100% with all of Selwyn's comments. And I too have a small underground wine cellar, unfortunately not air-conditioned. When I first designed and had my house built over 20 years ago we started with just two bedrooms, but the wine cellar was included. We later extended the house twice, but perhaps that shows my priorities!

So I have some "vintage" wines in that cellar and my philosophy has been that even if there were similar vintages and quality on a wine list, I'd not be able to afford them!

For many years I tried to avoid restaurants that charge any corkage at all, and certainly those that didn't allow BYO. But corkage has become more common in recent years, and I've become more comfortable about it. But only when it is in the R15-R20 range. The highest I've ever been charged was R30 recently, in a fairly casual restaurant that I had visited before but not for a while. I was in a large group and hadn't known about the amount of the charge. I had also been told that they had a reasonably-priced wine list and I couldn't remember if that was the case. But it's not very good and what they have is overpriced. I had brought a bottle and left it in my car until I saw the wine list, and I decided to use that bottle despite the amount of the corkage fee. But that small addition to what I regard as the "norm" will probably have me now avoiding that restaurant. It would have been more acceptable if they had a good wine list.

There are obvious exceptions. For a top quality restaurant with a good wine list, I wouldn't think of trying to BYO, and most times it wouldn't be allowed anyway. And if I was entertaining, I also wouldn't do so.

But in a reasonably casual restaurant that allows BYO (with or without corkage), I don't care what other diners think! And a few times when I've been on my own, am not going to drink a whole bottle, and there is no decent wine available by the glass, I've said to the management you've got a choice. Don't charge me corkage, or I find a different restaurant. That obviously works best when the restaurant isn't full! And in say a Mall with alternatives.
ArthurSA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 17th, 2006, 06:27 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 983
Thank you, Selwyn and Arthur, for your insights into this whole question. I appreciate you!

Celia
Celia is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 17th, 2006, 08:06 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,823
Celia has a point about the markeup on wines in SA. We were quite pleasantly surprised at the price of good wine in Cape Town and Franschhoek. I remmeber one dinner at a great "hole in the wall" pizza place in Franschhoek - 1 pizza, 2 salads, 2 cokes, and 4 glasses of wine for about $20!

If in Franschhoek - look at the edge of town (closest to Stellenbasch) for a lovely little antique shop. I bought my traditional souvenir spoon (silver) and my husband bought a lovely silver wine tasting "thing" - you know, the little scoop-thing you put wine in and then spit out the rest. (Okay - I'm showing my igorance not knowing what it is called - but I know what it's for!!!)

However, when we went to New Zealand - we were shocked at the markup for local wines! We could get Australian wines cheaper than local NZ wines!

Don't forget to look at Le Petit Ferme for lunch......a tru gem and a meal we still talk about - 3 years later!!!!
Grcxx3 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2006, 03:54 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,702
We are leaving for Cape Town next week, and I am still not clear, from all your responses, how common it is to Bring your own, and if so, whether the restaurant has its own wine. As visitors we are quite happy to try things from the restaurant's list. Our concern is that we found in Australia that some restaurants were not licensed to sell wine, and if you didnt bring your own, you were out of luck! Is that likely to happen in SA?
Carlux is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2006, 06:40 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
To try and sum up (in less words this time!), in my own experience . . .

Yes, a restaurant has to have a licence to sell wine or any other kind of alcohol. There are different kinds of licences, as far as I know the most common are win and malt (beer), and all liquor (i.e. including spirits).

1. If a restaurant has a licence, it can still elect to allow BYO. And it is that provision that we have focussed on in this thread.

2. These days most restaurants, even very small and casual ones, have some kind of liquor licence. (Although I've just remembered that my favourite "neighbourhood Italian trattoria" probably doesn't have one. That was one of its attractions from the start, that there would never be any question of corkage!)

3. The few that don't will often sell liquor anyway. Provided you don't lookas like you're a cop! Or, if it's during the day, they will probably be geared up to have a runner go to the nearest liquor store.

So IMO it's only at night or in isolated places, and with a very few restaurants, where you mught be caught short. But nevertheless best to check on licence and policy ahead of theb visit, if that's easy to do.
ArthurSA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2006, 06:41 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
Hmm. That was still about as long as my earlier post!
ArthurSA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2006, 06:43 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 686
And please excuse the typos, I have a short-term eyesight problem that makes reading fine print difficult.
ArthurSA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2006, 10:13 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,702
Thanks for your help. The mention of being suspected of being a cop reminds me of a story about an Ontario restaurant several years ago. One of the best chefs in Canada opened a restaurant on his farm so that he could control what was grown and served. People are prepared to make long treks out into the country to taste his fabulous meals. But he doesn’t (or didn’t) have a liquor license. People are invited to bring appropriate wine from their own cellars. One day a couple appeared with no wine - could they buy some from him? No, he doesn’t have a license to sell wine. Oh, but we really would appreciate wine to go with this wonderful meal - don’t you have any in your cellar? Well, just this once - and he produced an appropriate bottle, which he couldn’t sell, but did agree to accept a donation. Eh voila - who are they but Ontario's finest out to entrap the unsuspecting restaurant owner. Having spent many Ontario taxpayer dollars on this not cheap meal. My source tells me that his customers were so incensed that they paid for a lawyer (also a former customer) to successfully defend him. Didn’t do a lot for the reputation of the law enforcement agency!
Carlux is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:36 AM.