Enjoying wine at restaurants doesn’t have to cost a fortune: Find places with low to no corkage fees

Ordering a bottle of wine at a restaurant can cost up to six times as much as the same bottle at home. It’s an unfortunate fact, but it doesn’t have to keep you from going out.

Saturday, Feb. 27, is Open That Bottle Night, a national campaign urging people to go ahead and enjoy the bottle they’ve saved for a special occasion.  In honor of the event, many restaurants throughout Atlanta will waive their corkage fees. When that day is over, there are still numerous restaurants where you’ll save a fortune by bringing your own bottle and paying either a small to moderate fee, or no fee at all.

At Woodfire Grill, patrons can pay $20 for a corkage fee. While that may sound steep, consider that they could bring a $40 bottle of wine that would cost $120 at the restaurant. There is no corkage fee for bottles bought at Woodfire.

“The vast majority of those who [pay the corkage fee] are collectors who bring their own bottles to celebrate a special occasion,” said Nicolas Quinones, part-owner and director of the wine program. “It is not a bad alternative.”

According to a CNNMoney.com report, prices for higher end wines are often doubled at restaurants and cheaper bottles may be three times more expensive. Wine by the glass can even be quadrupled to ensure the restaurant will still make money in the event it does not sell the entire bottle.

The no corkage fees apply to high-end and middle of the road eateries, from pizza joints to family dining spots. J.Alexander’s in Norcross, for instance, never charges a fee. Neither does Marlow’s Tavern.

“It’s welcomed, even though it’s not prevalent,” said Steve Nahey, general manager of the Alpharetta location. “Once people see that we do it, they’ll begin to think about it.”

To find restaurants near you that have no corkage fees, or reasonable fees, click here. To learn more about wines, check out the AtlantaWineGuy blog.

Follow me on Twitter @atlbargains or on Facebook at AJC Atlanta Bargain Hunter

10 comments Add your comment

The Truth

February 27th, 2010
2:17 am

Those hefty, slow-witted UGA grads love their wine.


February 27th, 2010
7:03 pm

I going to uncork that bottle of THUNERBIRD, myself and save the corkage fee. MORONS and you wonder why we are in a recession.. Also THUNDERBIRD TURBO COUPE, taste just like DOM….PEACE


March 1st, 2010
5:00 am

I bartend at a very well known restaurant and you better believe there should be a corkage fee. Our glasses, our labor, our water to wash the glasses, it adds up. I love when people enjoy my restaurant but part of doing that is being a responsible person and if you bring your own bottle, don’t expect us to serve it for you unless you pay. That is just life, kids…

Are you kidding?

March 1st, 2010
8:26 am

Why don’t some of you uncaring restaurant owners stop to think about how hard times are for most people these days? Raising your prices, offering less and being unbending are the reason so many of you are closing. Go with the flow and allow customers to bring their own wine, uncork it themselves and bring their own glasses to take home with them. Of course you aren’t going to allow that because you are greedy in thinking you are going to get the last penny out of them before they get out the door that you can.


March 1st, 2010
8:34 am

When I clicked to find where there are no corkage fees, it only brought up the NY area.

Petie The Crab

March 1st, 2010
8:42 am

Lemmie see now. I bring in a $1.25 bottle of Boones Farm Apple Mountain and they charge me $20.00 for a couple of glass for me and floyd. Hmmm, do I also get a message and two bar jokes for that.


March 1st, 2010
8:51 am

Panahar also lets you bring your own beer or wine with no fee.


March 1st, 2010
9:13 am

“It’s welcomed, even though it’s not prevalent. Once people see that we do it, they’ll begin to think about it.”

No $hit Sherlock! It’s not like restaurants advertise BYOB when they can easily gouge you on alcohol prices. But let’s face it, hoity-toity wine people aren’t as concerned about the economy as us beer-drinking folk. Will these same restaurants let me bring in my own sixer of Heineken? If you’re concerned about the price, find a cheaper place or don’t go.

greedy restaurants?

March 1st, 2010
9:41 am

@Are you kidding? It is a business. What do you do for your job sir? Its like wanting to use a car lot cars as free rentals. Are they greedy? If you notice restaurants have lowered there prices, sending out coupons and offer lower end selections like burgers. Check out high end steaks houses , they all have a burger now. The restaurants have to pay for the glasses, the booths, the rent, labor, liquor license, that is why they increase the price of the wine. Plus that $40 bottle of wine at the grocery store, the restaurant is able to buy it for $30. They will resell it for $90. So its not quite as bad as the author leads you to believe. Is the grocery store greedy for wanting to make $10 off you? A bottle of wine is a great sell for the servers. Servers have been hit as much if not harder than any other position in this economy. Are they greedy for wanting to make money to pay there bills? Or maybe you should save your money and not tip. Whose the greedy one there? 20% tip for good service is the standard. For those who have not ever worked in the industry, a server tips out on their sales, to bussers, bartenders, assistant servers, hostess and some establishment make the servers pay for the credit card usage fees. A total of 2-6% of sales. If you can’t afford this, drink at home.


March 3rd, 2010
6:58 pm

I took my bottle Of NIGHTRAIN EXPRESS to CHUCK E CHEESE, to save a buck the other day. However when I went to have it uncorked, they said I had to leave…WTF