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The Dos and Don'ts of Corkage Etiquette

Advanced Sommelier Josh Orr shares his best tips


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Do...

...call beforehand and to notify of the special bottle you are bringing.

...consider buying a bottle of wine from the restaurant to start and then move into the wine you brought.

...not hesitate to ask for the wine to be decanted if it needs it.

...understand there are reasons for corkage—things like the wage for the busser who polished your glasses are one of the many reasons corkage exists.

Don't...

...bring in grocery store wine in the bag from the grocery store.

...bring a wine that is already on the list. If it is a big name then there is a good chance the restaurant might carry it.

...expect the somm to spend as much time at your table as at other tables that are purchasing wines off the list.

...complain or otherwise be offended by being charged corkage. If you take the time to bring in a bottle to the restaurant you should take the time to research what the corkage will be and be happy to pay.

Josh Orr's Best Pairing Advice

”Look at the food and the wine in terms of intensity. A metaphor that clicked for me is equating the dish and wine to a specific musical genre. If your dish is subtle and soft like a piece of classical music, it probably shouldn’t be paired with a wine reminiscent of heavy metal. For example, sauvignon blanc does not go with smoked brisket.

And get to know a few wines that are very versatile. Pinot noir, dry riesling, and dry rosé are some of my go-to wines, since they pair well with the food scene in San Diego. All three can be paired with sushi.”

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