For many other alcohols, we know the deal when it comes to tipping: either a dollar a drink if at the bar and the bartender simply popped a cap or poured the drink from a tap or bottle, or two dollars a drink if there was mixology involved. But what about tipping on wine, especially when certain bottles can be hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Do you really add the standard fifteen to twenty percent tip to those purchases? While there is not hard and fast rule, we feel that in most instances, yes, tipping the standard fifteen to twenty percent on top of the cost of the wine is the correct thing to do.
Because the cost of the wine we order when out to dinner is so often just lumped in to the rest of the bill, many in the restaurant industry say it goes without saying that they expect one to tip on the full amount, including the wine that was ordered. While you could subtract the wine from the total, calculate the tip, and then add in what you feel is fair for the bottle, don’t be surprised if you get a funny look from the wait staff.
If you are ever in the position to order a bottle costing $500 or even $1,000+, many would argue that if you have the means to afford this bottle in the first place, you also then have the ability to pay the $100 or $200 tip on that bottle. The tip you give also depends on the relationship you wish to have with the restaurant. If you’re a regular, or were so thrilled with your meal that you intend to come back often, it’s best to tip the standard fifteen to twenty percent on the entire check. You don’t want to have to explain to an irritated staff your rationale for subtracting the bottle first, giving your tip and then adding a bit extra. If that’s what you decide to do, just don’t expect the same service the next time you return. That being said, if the service was poor, or you had a bad experience, tipping less is understood.
At the bar, things are a bit different. Just like with beer and spirits, we adhere to the rule of a dollar a drink if the bartender is simply pouring from a bottle of the house red or white, but if we order a full bottle, even if we’re just drinking it at the bar and all the establishment did was pop the cork, we still give at least a fifteen percent tip on top of the cost.
If we instead choose to take our by-the-glass option of wine at the table with some light snacks, or even a meal, we simply lump the cost of the wine in with everything else we’ve ordered and then tip on the entire amount.
While we realize it can be annoying to tip on wine you know is being marked-up in the first place, it’s important to realize that almost everything in the restaurant is, including that free bread basket. If you feel like you’re at an establishment with particularly egregious pricing, you can always say something, and you should of course also never dine there again.
While tipping is a tricky subject for everyone, it’s important to remember that these tips are the primary way the majority of restaurant employees earn a living and tipping well is simply a fundamental part of the dining experience. Especially if you want to be a return visitor. Restaurants keep track.