Bring your own wine to restaurants

When dining out at a nice restaurant, those of us wine drinkers who don't roll in the dough often have a painful decision to make: Buy a woefully inadequate bottle of $8 retail wine outrageously hiked up to $30, or splurge and suck up the $50 cost of a decent bottle. (Read my post on how to find the best wines on a wine list)

Though not all restaurants add 300-400 percent to a wine's retail cost, the steep markup is a pretty common practice in our capitalistic country. It aggravates me off regularly and the soapbox gets pulled out frequently, but restaurants do have staff, insurance and utilities to pay.

There are, however, solutions to our suffering: Bring in your own wine.

Say there's a special bottle you've been aching to drink, and you want to pop it at a restaurant. Or maybe your local Thai joint doesn't exactly carry a stellar selection of Rieslings (or anything, for that matter). A carefully chosen brown bag can be your meal savior. Not all restaurants embrace bring-your-own (and I've rarely seen it publicized), but increasing numbers are OK with it, provided you pay a small service charge called a "corkage fee."

Corkage fees vary from restaurant to restaurant, with average costs ranging from $5 to $20. The fee helps cover costs, not to mention the loss of profit. It's a fair deal all around. There is, however, strict etiquette to follow. If you practice good corkage and smile often the server or sommelier may decide to waive the corkage fee and let you off with a freebie.

DOs and DON'Ts for BYOW:

With proper etiquette, BYOW is a beautiful budget balm. Drink better and splurge on that filet in wild mushroom sauce, but follow the unwritten rules.


Are you looking for something unique to carry that bottle in? Check out my new wine gifts and accessories store. Unique wine purses, leather wine satchels and eco-friendly, neoprene-like wine carriers.

Wine Reviews

Four Vines 2007 Syrah Paso Robles

Hogue 2007 Meritage Washington


Oct. 19, 2010

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