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“Corkage” Bill Will Let Restaurant Patrons Bring Their Own Wine

by ARLnow.com February 23, 2011 at 9:01 am 10,783 34 Comments

Yesterday, by a vote of 78-18, the Virginia House of Delegates approved SB 1292, a bill that will allow restaurant patrons to bring their own bottles of wines to restaurants.

If the bill is signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell, as expected, any Virginia restaurant with a liquor license will be able to charge customers a “corkage” fee to open their home-brought wine and pour it at the table.

The measure had the backing of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.

“RAMW supports the rights of consumers to have a choice, and we see no evil in allowing patrons to BYOB, so long as there is no restriction on a restaurant’s right to charge a service fee or so called corkage fee,” the organization said on its web site. “Not having such an option puts Virginia restaurateurs at a competitive disadvantage in locations that are in close proximity to areas that allow BYOB, thereby depriving Virginia of sales, and the attendant sales tax and revenue. The availability of this option allows restaurants to attract the high end wine aficionado who enjoys dining out, but prefers the option of bringing wine from their own collection.”

Of course, only certain restaurants will allow the practice if the bill does become law. For the inquisitive, here’s some advice on the etiquette of bringing your own wine.

  • mehoo

    It should include beer too.

    • NJMets

      I hope so. Most people don’t drink wine, so it would be much more fun to bring in beer.

  • Ben

    Wooo! Can’t wait to bring in some Boone’s Farm.

    • JamesE

      I prefer Mad Dog 20/20 myself

      • MadPaddy

        Wild Irish Rose ! For St Patricks Day!

  • Patrick

    This is great news. Will the corkage fee apply to each bottle or will it be a one time charge regardless of number of bottles?

    • JW

      It’s usually per bottle.

  • CW

    Not sure how much this will affect much of anything. Restaurants will charge high corkage fees which will deter customers on the lower end from doing this, but will still lose them money on higher-end wines (unless they use a sliding fee scale, in which case they just look like jerks). Sommeliers will be generally pissed off. The few people who just can’t suffer through a meal without their absolute FAVORITE wine ever will be happy. In which case, I ask them, why do you dine out to begin with? To me, letting the restaurant give wine selections is part of the experience.

    Now, what the area really needs is real BYOB place – usually Japanese or Thai, with a big paper “BYOB” sign posted in the window, where you can come in with a case of beer under one arm, a box of franzia in the other hand, and a big smile on your face. That’s a fun time right there, let me tell you.

    • Bill

      Restaurants in Maryland are already doing this and none that I’ve been to are charging high corking fees. Catonsville Gourmet, a very nice restaurant, charges $5. Would you rather have an $8 glass of wine or share a bottle with the table for $5 total?

      • CW

        If that truly happens, then I will be a very happy person. I have never seen that occur, however, in a major metro area. Catonsville Gourmet appears to be in the sticks, and, while it looks like a very nice, well-reviewed place, I would say that they are being the exception, rather than the rule. Why would restaurants with a death grip on $10 glasses of wine suddenly relinquish their highest-margin revenue stream en masse? Do you think the Circas and Eventides of the world are just going to go quietly in this manner? And do you think that enough diners will really avoid places that don’t offer corkage for it to coerce them into doing so?

        • t-cough

          Well, we obviously didn’t bring in our own bottle of wine, but when we bought a bottle of wine at The Twisted Vine, they charged us $14 to open it…

  • ArlGnaw

    i’m going to keep on packing in my two buck chuck in my camelbak

    • local

      You better drink it slowly, ’cause two buck Chuck is now like $3.50.

      • ballston

        and the Federal Reserve says theres no inflation!!!!!!!!! panic.

      • ArlGnaw

        i’ll water it down with some mountain dew! will they allow that in willow or tallulah?

      • Ben

        Well to be fair it’s still $2 out west. Shipping costs and such make it higher out east….

      • Lalaland

        I was under the impression that it was always $3.50 in Virginia. It’s only $2 in California and a few other places due to taxes and other fees.

      • Chris

        Two Buck Chuck is $3.21 + tax here in NoVA.

  • Lalaland

    I would love a bar that would serve drinks but not food and just let you bring in whatever food you wanted to bring in from local businesses.

    Of course, that’s illegal under Virginia Law. Also, likely unprofitable.

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  • Sam

    If only there were good restaurants to bring the wine to…

  • Kimberly

    Anything that frees up mature enjoyment of alcoholic beverages in Virginia is a good thing. Two wine-stained thumbs up, General Assembly!

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  • Amy Y

    God, I miss Chicago…


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