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Another Tipping Question

I like your e-newsletter, and enjoy the Q & A part -- especially this week's question about tipping the sommelier. A similar subject came up this weekend amongst a group of ladies at a ladies night out concerning tipping. I'll skip the "are you supposed to tip a hairdresser if she/he is the owner of the salon" but will leave you with this question instead -- which caused a heated debate: When you get a bill at a restaurant, do you tip on alcohol? What if you order a bottle of $100 champagne and only have a salad, for example. The bill is $130 (say a salad each) -- do you tip on the entire check? OK, so probably not the best example, but you get the point, right? Would LOVE to know the answer to this (if nothing else, but to brag about how smart I really am!) LOL. seriously, LOL. Thanks again -- I appreciate your site -- and tell folks all about it every chance I get -- ok, maybe not that much, but when the subject of wine comes up (and that seems to be a
Answer From Expert Roger Bohmrich MW

I do believe there is only one answer to this question: you should absolutely tip on the full value of food and beverage. In your example of a bottle of Champagne and a salad amounting to a total of $130, you should tip from 15% to 20% for good to excellent service or from about $20 to $26 (by US standards, as the percentage might be different in other cultures). Whether you include tax in the base amount is more variable, and I think prevailing etiquette allows for tax to be excluded.

The important issue, as I see it, is how you should treat service staff in a restaurant. Since they depend upon tips for a major share of their compensation, it is unfair to deny them a tip on wine given that beverages are a normal part of the dining experience. On the other hand, if you receive poor or unattentive service, then by all means the tip percentage should be reduced.

About Our Expert

Roger has enjoyed a lengthy career in the wine trade as an importer and retailer, and at present he is an educator, speaker and consultant. He set up and managed Millesima USA, a New York merchant affiliated with a leading European company. Previously, he served as senior executive of importers Frederick Wildman & Sons. In recent years, Roger has judged wine competitions in Argentina, Turkey, Portugal, China and the U.S. Roger is one of America's first Masters of Wine.

Visit Roger Bohmrich MW's web site