Ask Tom: Tipping on wine


When a bottle of wine can run more than your food, what are the tipping conventions? (Punch Stock)
Tom, I frequently order a bottle of wine that equals or exceeds the cost of the food. What do servers expect by way of a tip? Do I really need to include a $20 tip on a $100 bottle (that retails for $40 anyway, but that's a different issue)? Thanks, love the chats. Matt, Arlington
Tom Sietsema: Except on rare occasions, I tend not to buy wine over $50 ( sometimes $60) a bottle.  When I'm drinking in that range, I tip as I normally do, which is a little more than 20 percent on the pre-tax total.  
It gets trickier, as you note, the more you shell out for a bottle. On a $100 bottle of wine, I'd stay with a tip of 20 percent, given the thought and the extra service that typically accompanies such purchases. (Think cellaring, decanting, upgraded stemware, etc.)  But if I were to buy a second bottle at roughly the same price, I'm not sure I would continue to tip the same amount. I would certainly factor in a gratuity, but probably not as much a 20 percent. The tipping would depend, in part, on how much effort I think the staff is expending on my behalf (and whether I shared a taste of the wine in question).
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