Tag Archives: corkage

New to BC – BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine)

25 Jul

Many people in BC, including me, were excited to hear that it’s now legal to bring your own bottle of wine (BYOW) to a restaurant here. Suddenly though, there was a rash of ranting on social media regarding corkage fees.  It seems that many people expect corkage fees to be $5 and don’t really comprehend the reasons they may be higher. My guess is that most of them have no idea of the costs involved in running a restaurant. Someone has to serve you, supply glassware, wash glassware, replace broken glassware…well, you get the point. Restaurants are a business and the goal of business is to make money and ideally show a profit when all is said and done.

This week comments have simmered down and I’m curious how many people have already started taking advantage of this option. I went out on Friday night to an Indian restaurant, typically the kind of place that a wine list may be lacking. I was happy to discover a decent bottle of BC Gewurztraminer at an affordable price. Hardly would have been worth my while to take in my own bottle.

When would I take advantage of BYOW?

1)       If I was going somewhere that I knew had a really pedestrian list.

2)      If the restaurant was known for its outrageous mark-ups.

3)      If I know the sommelier and had something really special I wanted to share with them.

4)      If I know the sommelier and want them to try a wine I work with.

5)      If I was going with a group and everyone else was taking wine.

6)      If I was taking a winemaker and they wanted to show their wines to the dinner party or the sommelier.

Mostly if I’m going out to a good restaurant I want to learn something new, taste something new and enjoy getting suggestions from their sommelier. If I only ever took wines that I knew life would get kind of boring. Perhaps I’m not a typical consumer though as I actually cook dinner most nights of the week. Going out for dinner is about an experience and if I’m going to one of the wonderful restaurants we have in the gorgeous city perusing their wine list is part of that experience.

On facebook and yelp I posted some basic tips on corkage etiquette.

1)      Do not take a bottle that is already on the restaurant’s list

2)      Let the sommelier/server try your wine

3)      Tip as you would being served a bottle of wine

There are a few reasons that I think restaurants should embrace corkage. Most of these apply to smaller venues though, as they don’t have the same capital as the big guns.

1)      You won’t have to pay for, and inventory such a large selection of wines

2)      You can focus on keeping a tight list together of great value wines with a few treats for those guests that don’t want to BYOW.

3)      Hopefully you’ll get the chance to try more wines.

4)      If someone’s wine is faulty/corked you won’t have to deal with the hassle of returning the bottle to the BCLDB.

There are also some rules that restaurants and patrons will have to follow. These notes are from this page



Section 42 of the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation has been amended.

• Food Primary licensees may allow customers to bring their own bottle of wine into licensed restaurants.

• Participation is up to the individual licensee. Licensees are not compelled to allow a customer to bring their own wine.

• Licensees are not required to seek approval or provide notice to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch that they are participating.

• The wine must be unopened and commercially produced. No UVin or home made products are permitted.

• Customers must hand the bottle to the licensee or staff person as soon as they enter the restaurant.

• The wine is served in the same manner as wine selected from the menu. The licensee may set a corkage fee for this service.

• Customers may take away unfinished bottles of wine. Your staff must put a new cork in the bottle and tell customers who are driving that they must store the wine behind the rear seat, in the trunk, or in an exterior compartment – it must be out of reach of people in the car.

• Unfinished bottles of wine may not be added to the licensee’s inventory.

• Licensees are still bound by responsible service requirements and must not over serve patrons or serve intoxicated patrons.

To the people complaining about $20+ corkage fees I’d like you to consider that you don’t have to take your own bottle, you can still order off the list. Also, if you’re taking anything that’s $20+ retail it is almost guaranteed to be a deal. I don’t know of many restaurants that don’t at least double the retail price of wine to get their list price.

I really hope everyone from consumers to restaurants will embrace the opportunities that change brings. Most of us have been pretty vocal about the strict liquor laws here so let’s now celebrate a step in the right direction!

Cheers, Luisa