What Is a Corkage Fee: Uncorking the Basics

corkage fee

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When booking a venue or restaurant for a particular event, some people prefer to bring their own drinks and not rely on the restaurant’s menu choices. It is especially common among wine enthusiasts or people with specific religious or cultural requests. Even though certain restaurants and venues don’t give customers this option, others do so, but at a price. That’s where the corkage fee comes into play. Read on to learn more about the corkage fee. 

What Is a Corkage Fee?

what is corkage fee
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A corkage fee is a charge imposed by venues or catering services when guests bring their own bottles of alcohol to events or weddings. The corkage policy is a bit different from the BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze) policies that some restaurants have. The fees are much more formal, with their own particular set of rules. 

In fact, with the corkage fee, the restaurant or venue will also take care of the whole service, from chilling the bottle to opening, presenting, and serving it to the guests. The staff at the venue will also be responsible for cleaning up, so you won’t need to worry about disposing of the bottle.

An upside to charging a corkage fee is that guests will enjoy having a drink even though the venue doesn’t have a wine list. Moreover, it could turn out cheaper, and you will be saving money on restaurant drinks.

It has some disadvantages, too. For instance, the wine that the guests will bring and serve could lead to too much intoxication. Intoxicated guests are usually not a good look and may cause some damage to the establishment. Moreover, these guests may take their time drinking and using the glassware. This could also damage the venue’s business if they don’t turn over their glasses fast enough.

How Are Corkage Fees Determined?

corkage fee
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Corkage fees can vary depending on several factors. These may include the venue’s location, its level of service, and even the type of event being hosted. If you are holding your event in a very luxurious hotel, they are likely to charge more. The quality of the glassware, the professionalism of the sommelier, and some other factors will determine the final cost.

The prices would be different in a cheaper city or town and in a smaller venue. Note that you may have to pour and serve yourselves in some less luxurious venues and restaurants.

Why Do Venues Charge Corkage Fees?

corkage fee - Minstrel Court
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Venues charge corkage fees for various reasons. A venue may not have a drink programme yet and therefore would prefer the guests to bring their own set of beverages.

The venue could be at the earlier stages of developing its menu or getting its licence, but they may not yet be ready to offer drinks. In this case, the venue hopes not to stop operation until the conditions are met, and can accept guests to bring their drinks, but with a fee.

Some venues don’t have a drink menu for some reason. Even so, they will have a “bring-your-own” policy, asking the guests to pay a corkage fee. The fee will cover their expenses and the cost of labour.

Other venues, on the other hand, have a drink menu, but the guests have a special request. It could be a special event with a particular type of drink. For instance, the guests have saved a bottle of wine to be opened on a special occasion.

How Much Do Corkage Fees Cost?

Corkage fee - Minstrel Court
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The cost of corkage fees can vary significantly from one venue to another. A reasonable price could range from £10 to £50. Depending on how committed the establishment is, the price could even go as high as £100. 

An extra cost you may consider is tipping. The waiter or sommelier who serves you might expect some tips from you. The tip should be the same as when you buy the wine at a restaurant.

When Might You Waive a Corkage Fee? 

In certain situations, venues may be willing to waive corkage fees. One situation is when the guests want to bring their own drink and serve themselves. Some venues may waive the fees in this case. Some establishments could also waive the fee as part of an advertising programme. When it comes to Minstrel Court, we have a no-corkage-fee policy in place. You may contact us directly for extra information.

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