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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I am wondering if it is appropriate to take a bottle of vintage Port to a restaurant and ask them to decant it. The place I am thinking of going already has free corkage, and I would be willing to pay any fee associated with decanting a bottle. I would just like to know if such a request is proper and how to go about it.
—John, Newport Beach, Calif.
Even if you already know about the corkage policy, you should always call ahead and check. When you make your reservation, ask to speak to a manager or sommelier, and explain that you have a special wine that you'd like to bring in. (Don't forget, it's considered tacky to bring something that is already on a restaurant's wine list.)
Tip accordingly—which, for bottles that require special handling, means generously. I also recommend offering a glass to the sommelier, chef, or owner. Who knows what that kind of good will might bring?
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