Happy New Year! This is the time of year for going out and indulging in high-end cuisine…but do you really want to indulge in a higher-than-you-need-to wine price? We almost never talk about this, but most finer restaurants will allow you to bring your own bottle (call ahead!) and pay a nominal fee–$5 or $10—called a “corkage fee” to open your bottle at their restaurant. The result can be a definite win for the restaurant goer, with some restrictions. I would not consider bringing a $10 wine, for example, and paying $10 corkage.
Another thing to consider is the cuisine: although we generally regard Champagne as going with everything, most other wines won’t, so the wine I would bring would need to work with the food.
In the order that we would usually drink them (white to red), here are my top five choices for taking with…
For a seafood restaurant, I would take either Domaine ‘les Contates’ Cru Chignin Bergeron 2012 ($17.99) or Chateau de Maligny Chablis 1er Cru ‘Fourchaume’ 2012 ($32.99). Tons of minerality make these perfect matches for seafood—the Chablis is especially good with oysters.
At a French restaurant, I’d take either of the two whites as above, Charles Mignon Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rose ($49.99), or Chateau de Haut Serre Cahors 2009 ($22.99). This array covers whites, Champagne/Rose all at once, and reds. If you aren’t sure what you’ll be eating at the restaurant, go with the Champagne.
Rutherford Grove Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Howell Mountain 2006 ($59.99) is the kind of classic cabernet that shines in a steakhouse setting. Have them pop the cork when you arrive so the wine has some time to breathe.
Lastly, a choice for Italian. La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino 2009 ($44.99) is one of those dark, brooding wines that really opens up to tomato-based dishes (hint: it’s made of 100% Sangiovese) and would be perfect with osso bucco…or pizza.
Central FL, wine supervisor