A corkage fee is a term used in the restaurant industry to refer to the charge that is imposed on customers who decide to bring their own bottle of wine in the restaurant for the purpose of consuming it inside the restaurant premises.
The corkage fee is usually not a large amount. The fee is more or less seen as a “convenience charge” for restaurant staff opening and serving the wine that did not come from the cellar. The corkage fee is usually implemented in many restaurants in the United States. But this practice is most common in areas that produce a lot of wine, namely the Napa Valley in California. Contrary to popular perception, a corkage fee is not a penalty for bringing your own bottle of wine and people in the restaurant industry are trying their best to change this prevailing view.
The actual cost of the corkage fee may vary depending on the location, and in the more unusual cases, the wine brought. The best way to determine the corkage fee imposed by a restaurant is by actually calling and asking about it. The phone call is also a good way of determining if the restaurant has a strict policy against bringing your own wine, and alternatively, if the restaurant will welcome the practice without imposing a corkage fee. Some restaurants implement a scaled corkage fee that depends on the kind of wine you will bring and the amount of bottles. There are restaurants that will completely waive the corkage fee if the guests will also order a bottle or two of wine from the restaurant’s own cellar.