Ok it is only partially true… but in the restaurant industry sometimes you just happened to come across a bit of vino. And sometimes that is just fine.
Probably the first time I can remember having a nice glass of wine bought for me while I was working was at Citrus Restaurant. Ah, the brown. A gentleman bought a bottle of Laurent Perrier Rose Brut (about $70 retail, about $150 on our wine list) and poured a glass for me and the manager, Teresa. I can’t remember the dude at all, but I remember the wine. Free, expensive, and delicious. And really, who wants to drink bubbly alone? No one.
Another time at Citrus, a regular and I were chatting about some of our favorite wines (I’m a bit of a wino). He brought up Opus One. He brought up Caymus. He brought up all of these wines I couldn’t afford.
Then he mentioned Silver Oak Cab and I admitted (along with all of these other fancy wines) I had never tried it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention that I’d heard it was overrated, but at this point I realized he was just showing off with his big, fancy, expensive bottles of wine. I was over it.
A month or so passed and then the week before Christmas, a young guy comes in with a wrapped bottle of wine for me. Turns out it was the “wine guys'” assistant who he had sent over with a bottle of 2003 Napa Valley Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon. That goes for about $100 in stores.
Merry Christmas to me. I brought that and my friend Sarah home to Maryland for Christmas that year.
And now working at R+D Kitchen, there is no corkage fee. Bring in 6 bottles for your table and I will open them all and charge you $0. I will even bring you sparkling clean wine glasses. With a smile.
***In case you’ve never tried to bring wine to a restaurant, they usually charge between a $10 and $25 corkage fee. It’s kind of an insult to the wine list if you feel the need to bring your own, but the Hillstone group is a whole different beast. Bring your whole cellar if you’d like.***
Usually people bring in decent bottles of wine. It hasn’t been too often that I see a Two Buck Chuck or some kind of White Zinfandel, but its definitely been known to happen.
A few times guests actually bring in a really nice bottle of wine to enjoy with their Wild Mushroom Meatloaf or Dip Duo (dripping with sarcasm…). And usually, if they know what they’re talking about, they are generous enough to give me a sip or even half a glass of something really yummy. And if they don’t offer, I talk wine until they get it and they pour me a glass. They probably do it to make me go away, but I’ve tasted a lot of great wines this way.
The best is when I’ve had tables bring in their own wine and realize they don’t like it. Turns out that wine is a 2001 Tuscan blend that I like very much. I’ll take that off your hands, sir! Not a problem!
And finally, the other day I had this bizarre man and his bizarre (and very late) date at one of my tables. After his date refused to drink any of the Cabernet he brought in, he announced to me that there was no way he could finish the whole bottle. Along with an extremely generous tip, he told me I could have the two glasses left in the bottle. That’s half a bottle of 2007 Stag’s Leap Cabernet for my (free) drinking pleasure.
Don’t mind if I do….