Corkage has often been a precarious subject when dining out. Although it is no uncommon act to bring one's own wine to a restaurant, there are certain guidelines, both explicit and implied. The most common policy from a restaurant is the corkage fee, an amount charged per bottle that you bring in.

The charge covers not only the service of opening, pouring and maintaining the wine but also glassware, breakage and the loss of revenue from not ordering wine from the list. It is not meant to be a penalty to the diner, so try not to look at it that way. A large portion of a restaurant's business is through wine and spirits, therefore instead of not allowing it, a small fee balances things out. Also, many establishments waive the fee for a bottle for each bottle you purchase from their list. Each restaurant has its own rules and fees, so check ahead to be sure.

One local chef and restaurateur is offering something extraordinary to bridge the gap on this subject. Jim Fiala of Acero, The Crossing and Liluma is not only known for his magic in the kitchen but also as one of the most wine-savvy chefs in the area. In the spirit of love for food and wine as well as his appreciation for his customers who share this enthusiasm, his restaurant group has extended a special "corkage" invitation.

The Our Food + Your Wine program is designed to complement their Grand Tasting Menu, a seven to nine-course meal of small plates that highlight classic dishes of the restaurant as well as current seasonal creations from the chef. For parties of six to 12 guests, all corkage fees will be waived when selecting this menu for the table. What makes this offer even more exceptional is they also encourage you to call ahead with the wines you will be bringing and they will design your courses to pair perfectly with your wines.

Acero, 7266 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.644.1790,

Liluma, 236 N Euclid Ave., Central West End, 314.361.7771,

The Crossing, 7823 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.721.7375,

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