Wine Talk

Snooth User: msinclair

Bringing your own wine?

Posted by msinclair, Jan 28, 2015.

Has anyone ever brought their own wine to a restaurant?


Reply by dmcker, Jan 28, 2015.

Many times. This is a subject we've discussed before on these boards before, but it's well deserving of a revisit. Unfortunately I'm out the door to work right now, so will have to revisit later. Hopefully some of our experienced regulars will have piped in by then...

Reply by vin0vin0, Jan 28, 2015.

Hello, Msinclair, welcome to snooth!

In response to your question the answer is yes, and as a matter of fact, just last night.

There are a couple of unwritten rules/guidelines and helpful hints:

First, check with the restaurant make sure they allow you to bring your own, not all do and in some states, it's not legal.

When checking, ask how much the corkage fee is. I've experienced fees mainly in the $10 - $25 range. In some wine areas, restaurants waive fees for local wines. In another thread re: the French Laundry there was a mention of a $200 corkage fee.

Find out if the bottle(s) you intend to bring is on their wine list. Significant faux pas to carry in one that they sell.

If you're bringing a really nice bottle, offer a taste to the wait staff and/or somm. They'll really appreciate it and you may get some extra special treatment.

Most importantly, relax, have fun and enjoy the wine!

Reply by EMark, Jan 28, 2015.

OK,  Vin0vin0 jumped in and said everything, and more, that I was composing at the time. So, feel free to skip my comments.



Welcome to the Snooth Forum, MS.  We hope you enjoy your visit, find it beneficial and continue to participate.

As DM states, the BYOB topic has been discussed several times here on this board.  I would say that the percentage of participants here who endorse the practice is very close to 100.  I have taken my own wine to a restaurant (most recently, about a month ago), but I don't do it often.  Some participants here always take their own wine. So, you can see that even within the "we're for it" group, there are different levels of participation.

If you have never done it and are considering it, there are a couple issues of which you should be aware.

Some states or municipalities have laws prohibitiong the practice.  So, if it is not legal where you live, you probably cannot do it.

Different restaurants have different policies regarding BYOB.  First of all, they might not allow it.  If they do allow it, then they will exact a service charge called "corkage."  The corkage charge for most mid-scale restaurants will range from $0 (rarely) to about $35.  As you move upscale the corkage charge will be even more.  Any discussion of what is a "fair" corkage charge is futile.  It just is what it is.

It is considered a mortal sin by some to bring a wine that is already on the restaurant's wine list.  Personally, I consider that to be a venial sin, but that is not the only arena in which I am an outlier.

So, if you are considering taking a wine to a restaurant you should contact the restaurant, either by telephone or e-mail and ask at least these two questions:

  1.  What is your corkage policy?  The answer to this question will tell you whether the restaurant will allow you to bring your own wine, and, if they do, how much they will charge you to open it up and serve it.  If the answer to this question is unacceptable to you, then you do not have to proceed to the next question.
  2. Can you e-mail/send a copy of your wine list to me?  Many restaurants post their wine list on a web site.  So, if you can find it there, again, you don't have to ask this question.  Obviously, the purpose of reviewing the wine list is to make sure that the wine that you want to bring is not one that the already have in their inventory.

Most people will also advise that you should not take an "everyday" wine to a restaurant.  If you and your spouse are celebrating your 20th wedding anniversary and you are bringing a Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from your wedding year, most would agree that you are bringing a "special wine." I couldn't believe what I saw in a steak house a few years ago.  A group at a table near me had a bottle of Rex Goliath on their table.  What does Rex Goliath cost?  $10?  They paid a $25 corkage fee to open up and drink a $10 bottle of wine.  That is just embarrassing.

Reply by TexasRiney, Jan 28, 2015.

Texas is not known to be a particularly forward wine state.  We have only allowed wine to be shipped from out of state to private addresses in the last couple of years.  The laws are written such that if hard liquor is served, a restaurant cannot allow you to bring in your own wines.  Since wine is a huge contributor to a restaurant's profits, many restaurant won't allow you to bring in your own wine, legal or not.  However, there are a number of chef-run fine dining establishments in San Antonio who are sympathetic to amateur oenophiles.  My wife and I love Il Sogno Osteria (Andrew Weissman) classic Italian, Bliss (Mark Bliss) contemporary American, and Sushihana (Howard Hu) Japanese cuisine and modern Asian Fusion dishes, to name a few who have very reasonable corkage fees.  I personally like some age on my wines and buy both red's and whites that can cellar gracefully for a minimum of 8 years.  However, my favorites generally need 20+ years of age in the bottle before they reach their potential.  You usually can't find these wines on the wine lists, and if you do - the prices tend to be prohibitive.  We try and cultivate personal relationships with these restaurants, so we can continue to pair the wines we love with first class food experiences.

Reply by EMark, Jan 28, 2015.

We try and cultivate personal relationships with these restaurants

Excellent suggestion.

Welcome to the Snooth Forum TR.

Reply by outthere, Jan 28, 2015.

It 's the only way I roll MSinclair.

Reply by GregT, Jan 28, 2015.

What the others said. It's been years since I bought a bottle at a restaurant. I pretty much always bring my own. But you have to be considerate. My basic rules are to bring a wine that the restaurant is not likely to have and to be sure to offer a taste to the staff. The price is not too important, but you don't want to bring some $10 crap.

Call first to make arrangements.

After talking to the people I generally don't end up paying the corkage fee anyway, but I'm always ready to because I know I'll be drinking a wine that I like and not overpaying for a wine that I don't particularly care for.

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