Rules to Follow When Bringing Wine to a Restaurant
By Laura Fagan Published May 2022
Everyone has heard of BYOB, bring your own beverage - but is it ok to bring wine to a restaurant? In short, the answer is most of the time. However, there is some industry etiquette that you should strive to follow to create the perfect wine and dine experience while also showing courtesy to the chef, staff and establishment. Our wine experts, Nathan Dale and Paul Quaglini, talk you through the task and serve up some guidelines to ensure you don’t miss the mark when bringing your own wine to your favorite restaurants.
BYOB - Guidelines to Follow
Restaurants expend a lot of effort, thought and capital while creating a wine list to accompany their menu items. Therefore, when you are looking to bring your own bottle of wine, you should be familiar with the general guidelines and etiquette expected by the industry. There are many reasons that you may want to supplement a restaurant’s list with your own label. It may be that the list is a tad underwhelming for your taste, or you have a sentimental bottle you’d like to share for a celebration or anniversary. Whatever the reason is, your steps to enjoy that wine tableside will be the same.
Nathan starts by sharing, “The first and most important rule to bringing your own wine to a restaurant is you need to ask permission and make sure they even allow that, call ahead and ask...” It is also recommended that you check the restaurant's wine list to make sure you aren’t bringing in a label they already offer. It is likely you are bringing in something different or a wine of interest; however, it is always smart to check what the restaurant has to offers. Additionally, it is best to be discreet when bringing in your bottle. No showboating needed, instead, “...keep it a little under the radar, maybe put it in a bag or in some sort of carrying case,” Nathan advises. You will want to make the front of the house staff aware you are carrying in your own bottle as well. Most restaurants have an in-house procedure for outside bottles.
Corkage Fees – What to Expect
Another thing you should inquire about is the cost of corkage. A corkage charge or fee is the price that a restaurant charges to open and serve the wine to your table. Each restaurant has the autonomy to set their own fee, so this price varies from restaurant to restaurant. Generally, you will find corkage fees to be between $15 and $30; however, fine dining restaurants may charge more. An important thing to remember is that, by bringing in your own wine, you are taking away from the overall check price for the table. That should be taken into consideration when you are tipping the serving staff, Nathan emphasizes, “...remember to tip.”
Requesting to Open
Many bottles that are brought into restaurants are prized labels or vintages so, it is understandable that a guest may want to enjoy the uncorking experience themselves. If that is your case, it is perfectly acceptable to offer to open the bottle yourself. Communication is the key. Be transparent with your server and let them know that you would like to open the bottle. Once you’ve opened the wine, you can always offer a glass, or a taste, to your server or sommelier, especially if they have never had that label before. Sharing the wine is something that Nathan always likes to do and encourages other restaurant goers to as well. The courtesy and thoughtfulness make the experience positive for everyone, “It is a nice gesture, and it makes them [the server] feel included in your experience.”
Feeling a little rusty opening and pouring wine? Check out our other video which provides a great tutorial.
At-a-Glance BYOB Guidelines
Call the restaurant and confirm that they permit outside wine to be brought in for dining.
Find out what the restaurant charges for a corkage fee.
Carry in your wine discreetly and make the staff aware you have brought in an outside bottle.
Consider offering a sample or taste of the wine to your server.
Remember to tip!
For your next restaurant experience, remember our guidelines and you will be set to sip and enjoy any wine that you bring. Shop your local ABC store for the perfect wine to pair or browse our full selection online.