F&W’s Megan Krigbaum tries to understand this mystifying behavior and makes a passionate case for letting sommeliers do their job.
I find true and wondrous joy in taking a great bottle of Champagne to my favorite Chinatown spot, Peking Duck House. (Sure, they might have crummy glasses, but bubbly, brilliant, fruit-inflected wine is such a perfect contrast to that crispy-skin duck.) Lately, however, I’ve been hearing about the opposite trend: customers BYO-ing cheapo bottles to restaurants with outstanding wine lists. It seems these customers have a bizarre, deep-seated distrust of sommeliers, a belief that their prices are such a giant rip-off that it’s better to bring in any random, unimportant bottle.
Obviously, restaurant wine prices are higher than retail. But in exchange, you get to choose from wines that have been stored properly and, thanks to the sommelier, go perfectly with the chef’s food; plus, you have access to old wines you’d never see on a store shelf. “It’s disheartening when someone brings in a wine that is not special and just sort of acts like a placeholder,” one sommelier told me. I get that.