Corkage BYOB

Corkage Fees and BYOB – Part 2

Mary Davidek

March 6th, 2013

Corkage Fees and BYOB – Part 2

In the last submission I covered the basics of getting your wine to the restaurant.  Now, for the dedicated corkage seekers……..let’s continue.

Take care of the waitstaff.  Many experienced servers see a bottle carried in and mark you as a diner who is…….well……thrifty.  I prefer to call it savvy.  And when addressing the monetary side of it, I usually MYOB but regarding BYOB; I can’t hold back.  If service warrants a generous gratuity, include an additional percentage for the server to off-set their loss of a potential wine sale.  I usually include an extra 5%.  In a more intimate dining setting I offer the server, or chef, or other interested staff a small sample of the wine.  If you frequent a particular restaurant, develop a rapport with your favorite server.  A big bonus, many times the published corkage fee disappears.

When possible I patronize restaurants with lenient BYOB practices or those that do not charge corkage…..EVER!  Be on the lookout for specials or promotions.  One of our favorite Napa spots offers “No Corkage Mondays”.  Some wineries have partnered with local restaurants who offer complimentary corkage if you bring in a bottle purchased at the referring winery.  Castello di Amorosa has a list of at least 20 restaurants in the valley that are happy to open a bottle of Castle wine at no charge.  And kudos to Restaurant Cuvée in Napa and Farmstead in St. Helena, CA; a small corkage fee is charged and donated to charity.  Bravo!

Become active on sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor to give feedback and accolades.  Wine forums are also a great place to turn.  Check out WineSpectator.com, VinoCellar.com and RobertParker.com; you will find lively and well-informed participants as well as updated BYOB info.

As previously mentioned, there has never been a better time to dine out with wine as more restaurants and chefs are embracing BYOB diners.  States that had prohibited BYOB in the past are now loosening laws and restrictions.  Establishments that at one time discouraged corkage enthusiasts are now recognizing the valuable business this clientele provides.

Happy dining –

Cheers!
Mary Davidek C.S., C.S.W

A sweet finale on the Castello di Amorosa Royal Pairing, the Fantatini. Recipe?… Simple. Scoop and pour!



Red, White and Bleu …… Let Freedom Ring!

Mary Davidek

March 3rd, 2013

Meet Mary

Red, White and Bleu …… Let Freedom Ring!

Freedom; no single word in the English language is more synonymous with America. Case in point, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence as is inalienable rights which the Declaration says all human beings have been given. Even when certain ‘dry” movements (prohibition 1920-1933) threatened one inalienable right, the powers that be eventually restored this right and true freedom was reinstated.
Without starting a political debate, let’s just talk about the fun stuff! We have the right to eat what we like and drink what we choose. In the United States we boast more than 3,700 certified wineries and in Napa, there are more than 450 wineries in this relatively tiny valley. It is obvious happiness has been justly pursued. For the purpose of this blog and this holiday let’s concentrate on a quintessentially American if not, Californian grape; Zinfandel.
Also known as Primitivo, Zinfandel is planted in nearly 15% of all California’s vineyards. Many debates have ensued as to who can rightly lay claim to this popular cultivar’s origination but DNA fingerprinting revealed it is genetically equivalent to Croatian grapes (which I will spare you the pronunciation of) as well as the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in the Puglia region of Italy. Eventually, this grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, and became known by the name “Zinfandel”. Zinfandel thrives in Napa’s Mediterranean climate as well as other growing regions of California. Geographical and climatic differences are expressive and many; robust and tannic, fruity and candied, complex and aromatic.
As stated, this is about fun, freedom and the right to pursue both. This 4th of July, you will find me celebrating the red, white and blue with another red, white and bleu. Castello di Amorosa Zingaro (Old Vine Zinfandel) and a yummy burger off the grill. I like 2 cheeses to top my burger, a little white cheddar for creaminess on the palate and a few bleu cheese crumbles for a salty zing. With all the usual burger suspects present and accounted for– this red white and bleu is perfect to get you in the mood for a night of fireworks.
Happy 4th of July—Let Freedom Ring!
Mary Davidek, C.S., C.S.W.

 


Everything for our decadent 4th of July burgers.
Remember, on the grill or the stove–160°F is the safety zone for hamburger.

 

 

Castello di Amorosa’s Zinfandel from Russian River Valley is spicy and fruity with hints of potpourri and dried Bing Cherries. Just big and bright enough for the Bleu and Cheddar.

 

Happiness pursued and achieved–enjoy with your firework spectacular!



Corkage Fees and BYOB – Part 1

Mary Davidek

February 21st, 2013

Corkage Fees and BYOB – Part 1

BYOB = Bring Your Own Bottle
Corkage Fee = the fee charged to open and serve a bottle of wine not purchased at the dining establishment

Every restaurant has restrictions and specifications which are said to cover the cost of opening a bottle, providing stemware, and serving the wine.  Realistically, a corkage fee is charged to cover lost revenue.  I am unabashedly a self-professed BYOB junkie; a dedicated corkage hound ……and I go to extremes in my pursuit.  Here are a few situations I have encountered and simple resolutions which may help in your quest.

1.  Call the restaurant or check their website prior to your reservation as fees and restrictions vary.  Some restaurants may impose a 1-bottle limit and others may have more tempting ways to capture your attention.   A growing trend; restaurants charge a fee but will comp it one for one, for every bottle purchased.  For example, restaurant “X” charged $25 corkage.  I brought in a bottle of Castello di Amorosa Cabernet Sauvignon.  From the restaurant wine list I selected a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy with apps.  I love a zippy Sauvignon Blanc with bruschetta and goat cheese on a warm baguette; sublime.  The bottle I purchased was $28.  That’s right, the corkage fee for my Castello di Amorosa bottle was waived.  This is clearly a win-win.  Typically I bring in a red and purchase a white from the list as even the grandest wine menu offers a tasty and affordable white wine.

2.  A common and reasonable request;  the bottle you bring in cannot be available for purchase on the existing wine list.  To ensure your selection for carry-in is acceptable, browse the wine list on-line or request a fax or emailed copy prior to your planned visit.  Here is my fool-proof solution.  Bring in wine from a winery that does not distribute.  This is becoming easier as more small and mid-sized wineries are opting for direct-to –consumer sales only.  Castello di Amorosa  wines have been a fixture on my restaurant outings for this very reason.  Restaurant wine lists change weekly and this takes the guess work out of it.

3. Prepare your bottles.  If you want a chilled bottle of bubbly with your Dungeness crab; chill it.  If you are bringing a Napa Cab with a little age on it, stand it up for a few hours prior to leaving which allows sediment to collect at the bottom.

4. I have seen bottles transported in everything from a paper shopping tote to a plastic grocery bag.  My advice; invest in a respectable wine carrier.  From leather totes to canvas carrying bags to decorative wine boxes – your wine should travel in style.

Good news for us food and wine lovers, corkage and BYOB is becoming an accepted standard.  Restaurant owners are adopting more favorable corkage policies as a marketing tool.

Stay tuned……Part 2 coming up.

Cheers!
Mary Davidek C. S. , C.S.W.



Food and Wine

Perfect Pairings Dynamic Duo

Mary Davidek

February 11th, 2013

Perfect Pairings Dynamic Duo

The first time I saw the man who would eventually become my husband I was dumb-struck (quite a confession those who know me will attest).  Just my type; tall, dark (it was summer), and handsome.  After a chat over a glass of vino (what else?), I made the fatal mistake of telling him I thought he was smarter than I was.  I say fatal mistake as it is now 24 years later and he won’t let me forget that statement.

Our friends often tell us they have never met 2 people more suited for each other, meant to be together.  Better together as 1 than separate as 2.  Like peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, peas and carrots……it just works.

Perfect pairings certainly enhance and intensify and one thing which is singularly good, but with food and wine, perfect pairings take on a new meaning.  If you have ever been on the Royal Pairing Tour at Castello di Amorosa you may have experienced a few of these perfect pairings.  A rich pate’ with Castello’s award winning Il Passito comes to mind.  Sommeliers agree this match is perfection.  Popular wine writer Karen Macneil says “this luxurious pairing comes perilously close to maxing out the human tolerance for pleasure”.  An endorsement like that certainly piques the imagination.  But, must perfect pairings always be so lofty, and quite candidly, so costly to be perfect?  Does perfection have a price?  A rule of thumb, pair rich with rich and humble with humble.  One of my affordable favorites, a simple roast chicken (any grocery store’s rotisserie is fine), and a bottle of Pinot Noir.  The rustic flavors of a simple roast chicken, a loaf of crusty bread and the earthy tones of Pinot Noir are magical together.  When selecting your pinot go for light and fruity bottlings from Sonoma.  For my dollar Castello’s Los Carneros Pinot Noir is the perfect choice with a hit of clove balanced with bright fruit.  This Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to perfect pairings, celebrate this dynamic duo with your honey.  Light a couple of candles, put in your favorite music, pour a couple glasses of vino and relax.
Throughout the year, connect with your inner match-maker; go forth and discover new and exciting pairings.

And remember, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder……

Cheers and Happy Valentine’s Day

Mary Davidek C.S., C.S.W