So many of us with wine cellars really appreciate a restaurant with a reasonable corkage charge allowing you to Bring Your Own Wine (BYOB). It also helps those ever increasing more casual places that no longer can afford the ever increasing cost of maintaining an inventory of older wines. The Aussies have been the best in encouraging BYOB.
In British Columbia with our restrictive government regulations this idea has been illegal until the recent law change last summer. After less than a year it is still unclear what the corkage policy might be for any given restaurant in Vancouver. However several places are supporting this new initiative and continuing to work to modernize BC’s antiquated liquor laws. The amount of corkage varies widely from $60 at Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, $38 at all four of the outstanding restaurants forming The Top Table Group to the more common $20-$ 30 at the majority of spots. Always ask whether there is any special deal for a certain day of the week. For example La Cigale French Bistro has no corkage charge every Tuesday, Versace Pizzeria every Wednesday and even Four Seasons Vancouver offers half price on all their wines on the extensive wine list at their Yew Restaurant every Sunday.
What are some places that allow you to bring your own wine that you would recommend to us?
What do you think is a reasonable charge by a restaurant to allow you to bring in your own wine?
For those going to Chicago, there are a litany of great dining places that are either BYOB due to not having a liquor license or just because they allow it with corkage and perhaps a restriction. You can find an up-to-date list on the Wine Berserkers website at: http://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=23117
For corkage, I think the maximum that’s reasonable is $20 per bottle, and I would only do that with a special place and a special bottle. However, for those who dine out a lot, the best thing is to get to know the chef and/or owner, as they’ll usually let regulars bring bottles with no corkage.
There are several important rules of thumb when bringing your own bottle(s) to a restaurant:
1. Tip appropriately – I usually increase my tip amount to 25% of the bill to make up for no ordering wine.
2. Always offer the chef and/or owner a small glass as a way of sharing great wine and giving them exposure to great wine. They’ll always welcome you back!