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Posted at 11:59 AM ET, 02/18/2011

Ask Tom: How much to tip on wine

By Justin Rude

(Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Ask Tom is an occasional feature that runs in the Sunday Magazine. This week's restaurant review was accompanied by an Ask Tom column that answers an oft-raised wine question.

Aiden Murphy and his fellow wine enthusiasts want me to settle a question: How much to tip for wine service?

"The other night," writes the Annapolis reader, "our wine bill was $700, more than twice the food total. I was a waiter growing up and know how hard the job is, so I have always tipped at least 20 percent on the total. My friends had a fit and said opening a $300 or $400 bottle of wine is no harder than opening a $50 bottle.

The rule of thumb, from Evan Goldstein, president of the San Francisco-based Full Circle Wine Solutions: "For a fairly significant bill, tip 18 to 20 percent of the cost of the wine up to a certain amount." By way of example, says the master sommelier, "the amount of service for opening up a couple of bottles of high-end Napa cabernet and decanting them is a lot less work than, say, setting up dual tasting of wines over a three- to four-case meal, decanting multiple bottles, changing over ample stemware" and so on. In the former scenario, $50 or so might be appropriate. But "if the persons did a LOT, a la the latter example," says the wine and spirits educator, "my proclivity would be to go higher: say, probably closer to around $100." The gratuity, he adds, generally should be given directly to the sommelier.

By Justin Rude  | February 18, 2011; 11:59 AM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Ask Tom  
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What recession?

Posted by: cbr1 | February 18, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Murphy,
For a single night's wine budget, you and your friends could feed 2100 hungry people at the Capital Area Food Bank. God bless you.

Posted by: DCfreedumb | February 18, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Why did Tom not answer the question? The questions was: Do you tip the same percentage on a $300 bottle of wine as on a $50 bottle of wine? The "answer" was that one should "tip 18 to 20 percent of the cost of the wine up to a certain amount ...." OK - but what is that "certain amount"? $100? $200? How much? That is the key issue here. And it was not answered!

The person from San Francisco then has some lengthy quote about about how serving mutiple bottles in multiple glasses is harder than serving one bottle of wine(duh). But that is not very relevant. To claim that this "Ask Tom" answers the reader's question is simply not true.

Posted by: David1974 | February 18, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

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