Bring your own wine laws being lifted for economic oenophiles

For those who want to enjoy a glass of wine without paying restaurant markup, you can sometimes bring your own wine. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A little-known trick for cost-conscious wine lovers is to bring a bottle to a restaurant and have them open and serve the wine, though this is often subject to what’s called a “corkage fee.” Some cities and states are starting to lift restrictions on the practice, allowing people to save some cash on wining while dining.

Cost of wine is a good cause to whine

Plenty of people think they are overpaying for wine at restaurants, and they’re right. According to CNN, markups on wines can range from more than 200 percent to six times the cost of the bottle. The cost of a glass, going by cost by volume of liquid, is often triple or quadruple the cost of a bottle of wine. That said, it is partly due to the fact that most bottles will spoil before the entire bottle is sold. However, not everyone knows that you don’t have to drink only what they offer on the wine list. Some restaurants, and it depends on the state and city one is in, allow people to bring in their own bottle of wine, if they prefer a specific brand or are fed up with paying too much.

Virginia now also for wine lovers with tight budgets

If an oenophile, meaning a wine lover, or anyone wanting a glass without paying restaurant prices, brings a bottle with them, they will often have to pay a “corkage fee.” Not all states allow it, though. The state of Virginia, according to, started allowing people to take wine into restaurants as of July 1, after lawmakers lifted a years-old law forbidding people to take their own wine into dining establishments. Kansas City, according to, a 31-year-old independent news publication from that area, “quietly” lifted a city ordinance recently that forbade diners from bringing their own wine to restaurants. Kansas City does require that restaurants charge a corkage fee. However, individual restaurant policies vary, and some establishments might not want anyone bringing their own in. The Wall Street Journal reports that restaurants are beginning to allow it just to bring in the business. However, one should always check ahead of time with a restaurant.

Expect to pay for the privilege

Restaurant staff usually have to open the bottle and serve it to the customer that brought it. Corkage laws allow one to bring their own wine, but not necessarily serve it. Many restaurants are mandated by law to charge a corkage fee, but it varies from state to state and city to city. According to Pitch, the national average is anywhere from $10 to $25 per bottle. San Francisco, for instance, has a mandatory corkage fee of $10 for any restaurant with 200 wines or fewer on the wine list and $30 for any restaurant with 500 available wines or more. So, for those wanting to bring their own, check with a restaurant ahead of time and expect a corkage fee of about $20. Given the markup, you’re likely to come out ahead.


Wall Street Journal


The Pitch


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