How to BYO-Wine

How to graciously bring a bottle almost anywhere
By Kaycee Wegener

Staring at a wine list while your server patiently waits for your selection can prove to be a daunting task for many people.  Rather than making a guess on a wine you’re unsure about, how about bringing your own bottle from home, ensuring you’ll love your wine as much as your food?  Most restaurants support the idea of patrons bringing their favorite wine to enjoy with their meal.

Here are a few simple rules on how to graciously bring your own wine to your favorite restaurant:

  1. Know what is on the restaurant’s wine list. Don’t bring anything that is on that list.  It’s best to avoid bringing anything that closely resembles what the wine director has spent time acquiring.
  2. Make the advance call.  Talk to someone personally to see if bottles can be brought to the restaurant, and what the corkage policy is.  Some restaurants offer “no corkage fee” specials on certain days of the week or even waive corkage fees for local wines.
  3. Always offer the wine director (and possibly your server) a taste of anything special that you bring.  You can do this by allowing them to taste the wine when it is opened or leaving a small amount in the bottle after the meal is finished.  If the wine director likes it you may see your wine on the list next time.
  4. Never bring a bottle of wine to save money.  Guests who head out to the nearest shop for an under-$20 bottle when a sommelier has worked hard to put together a list are rarely beloved by staff and management.
  5. Always tip on the approximate value of an average bottle of wine on the restaurant’s list.  Remember that stem ware and service are provided to guests regardless of where the wine comes from, so a tip is a friendly acknowledgement of their service.