Ask Tom: How much to tip on wine
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.
| February 18, 2011; 11:59 AM ET
Categories: Restaurants | Tags: Ask Tom
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