By Gina Trippi
Every year, we usually talk about what wines pair well with Thanksgiving Dinner. So, let’s just say it: you are always safe with Gamay and Riesling!
Stepping outside the usual, on these pages, we have speculated what wine might have been served at the first Thanksgiving Dinner. From historical documents, we know the Mayflower, before crossing the Atlantic, had been used to carry barrels of Bordeaux from France to England. And the Mayflower manifest shows barrels of wine were on board. So if the pilgrims had wine, it was likely Bordeaux.
We also talked about shaking things up with an all-sparkling dinner pairing a different bottle of bubbles from Drappier to Blanc de Blanc to a Pinot Noir Rosé with each course.
But this year, rather than trying to be different, let’s just be real. Let’s not talk about the perfect pairing for squash soup and turkey with oyster stuffing. Let’s talk about that special bottle that you have been saving or that bottle that reminds you of something important in your life that you want to enjoy on Thanksgiving.
You want to open this bottle for dinner, but you also want to have dinner at a restaurant. In most cases you can do both. How does BYOW (bring your own wine) work?
First, check to make sure the wine is not available at the restaurant. It is very bad form to bring a bottle offered on the wine list even if Uncle Harry did give you this particular bottle as a wedding gift.
Call the restaurant and ask if you can bring your own wine. While it is not necessary, it is always good policy to tell the restaurant why you want this particular bottle. Restaurants work very hard on their wine lists to ensure the wines offered are not only what the customers want but also pair with their menu.
Generally, a restaurant will charge what’s called a “corkage fee” to bring in a wine. This is legal and it is up to the restaurant to name its price. Although the atmosphere may be convivial and feel like “Cheers,” restaurants are in the business to make money, and wine sales are a big part of the bottom line. The corkage fee is intended to partially cover the loss.
While reports are that Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Napa Valley charges a $150 corkage fee, most restaurants in Asheville charge between $20 and $40 to BYOW.
If there are any special instructions—for example, that the wine needs to breathe for two hours before serving—make arrangements before you arrive. Bring the wine to the restaurant in a nice carrier or on its own. Give the bottle to your server as soon as you arrive. Your server will uncork the wine and handle service from that point on. It is always thoughtful to offer your server a taste of your bottle.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, tip as though you paid full price for the bottle. Thanksgiving is one of the most lucrative days for a server and bringing your own bottle to the table cuts into the check.
Got a special bottle of wine? BYOW!
Gina Trippi is the co-owner of Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Committed to the community, Metro Wines offers big shop selection with small shop service. Gina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828.575.9525.