Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Corkage Fee Mobile App

Two years ago our government finally and legally allowed BYOB to come to British Columbia and I quickly created this blog to list as many restaurants as possible that allowed corkage. Some restaurants embraced the concept others wanted no part of it, but corkage is here to stay and now there is a mobile app that makes navigating corkage friendly restaurants a lot easier than reading this blog both here in Vancouver and if travelling in the United States.

CorkageFee originally launched stateside and now has growing Canadian content. The restaurant information is FourSquare populated and corkage fees and ratings are verified by crowd sourcing.  I would highly recommend that restaurants check and update their corkage policy and pricing for accuracy.

The free app  allows users to find and view restaurants using filters for location, distance, corkage prices, user ratings and tips. A one tap call button is perfect for making reservations. There is integration with  Uber (not available in Vancouver yet again) along with driving instructions; both these features are great when travelling to unfamiliar cities or neighbourhoods. User ratings are based on a five-point info-graphic along with basic wine service questions.

User Uploaded Lists
Driving Instructions
I found the app easy to navigate and now needs to be up to date with more content to be of greater use. Sadly a user cannot add a restaurant that offers corkage so you may find yourself in the  dark when using the app while on the road. According to the developer; a user added listing is in the works. You can upload photos of a wine list although I find this limiting based on the quality of the image taken by the user. A possible future update could include image capture that can be scanned for wine recommendations, tasting notes, or ratings.  

Due to restaurant list population by FourSquare you will come across restaurants that do not have alcohol licences i.e take out pizza, sushi, and kebab establishments so a bit of foresight is required.  A web link to restaurant websites would be a great future feature allowing the user to see what wines are currently listed and avoid the cardinal rule of never bringing a bottle of wine that is already on the wine list. As a user, I would like to see other users add extra content in the tip section,  i.e sommelier's name or e mail address or a special menu item to consider trying. You can add up to one hundred characters of tip information. 

The app also allows you to find wine shops; which I found were missing a number of options for Vancouver, possibly due to FourSquare sourcing or that a fee is charged for shops to be listed.  An advertised shop  can have an email, web link, and product placement forefront of the competition in the apps search engine. 

I'm looking forward to using the app at home and away and I recommend it for any of my blog followers. The current release works fine on both my IPhone 4S and 6. The app can be downloaded at the itunes or Android Store.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fort Langley Update

The Lelem Arts & Cultural Cafe in historic Fort Langley offers the following policy on BYOB:

$10 corkage fee

#100 - 23285 Billy Brown Road
Telephone: 604 343 9277

Friday, April 11, 2014

...A couple few updates

Thanks to reader Andy Cheung who discovered corkage at:

Pink Peppercorn, Bistro Pastis, and Les Faux Bourgeois

Details below.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Corkage? Not a lot to say

If any restaurant wants to be listed here please let me know. I've had very little mention of restaurants new or existing that are doing much with the corkage and BYOB programmes in the last year. I'll adjust the blog if notified of any changes; otherwise I'll randomly check here now and then. Thanks Stephen

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A-Z Guide of Corkage Fees September 17

Confirmed restaurants with a BYOW policy and fee in place. Restaurants are hyper linked to their websites.

If your restaurant is missing from this list please e mail or send a Tweet to @bccorkagefees  This blog is maintained by sommelier and restaurant guy Stephen Bonner. More information on Stephen at

A – E
Adesso Bistro $25
Amici (West Vancouver) $20
Araxi $38
Cin Cin $35
Chambar $25
Chop Steakhouse free until September for BC wines; $19 for imports
Cloud 9 $20 in restaurant; $50 in lounge
Dundarave Fish Market $40
Edible Canada $20 for Canadian wine, $30 for International and CIC
East of Main Café $20
Earls $25 (wine must be presented to the manager)
EBO $20


Fable Kitchen $20
Fat Cow & Oyster Bar (Langley) $25 (wine cannot be on the wine list)
Federico's Supper Club $28 (not on busy nights or high season - contact restaurant)

Gramercy Grill $20
Gusto Di Quattro (North Vancouver) $27
Hart House $25
Hapa Izakaya $20 maximum 1 bottle per 4 guests or 2 bottles for 5+ guests
Horizons Restaurant Burnaby Mountain $25
Hy's Encore $30
Hy's Whistler $30


Kanpeki Teppanyaki Richmond $0 free
Keg Restaurants $25
Kitsilano Daily Kitchen Free to $25 (Free if vintage pre 2000 or no longer available in shops, free for specific  BC varieties on Mondays i.e. 1st Monday of month  Pinot Noir, 2nd Monday  Syrah, 3rd Monday for Sauvignon Blanc, 4th Monday for Bordeaux blends, 5th Monday for any bottle purchased at  Village Wines VQA shop; Monday free corkage not valid on statutory holidays)

L’Abattoir $25
Lelem Arts & Cultural Cafe (Fort Langley) $10
La Gavroche $25 (maximum 2 bottles)
Les Faux Bourgeois $25
Mangia E Bevi (West Vancouver) $30

Martini’s Pizza $12
Marine Grill (North Vancouver ) $25

Max’s Burgers $10 (free Tuesdays)
Maurya Restaurant $10 (free Wednesdays)
Memphis Blues $15
Milestones Crossroads $19 ($10 on Tuesdays)
Mission Springs Brewing Company $10 or $2 if purchased from their wine and beer store
Monk McQueens $25 per 750ml bottle maximum 1 bottle per 3 guests; maximum 4 per visit
Nicli Antica Pizzeria $25


Q4 Ristorante $30
Raglan's Bistro (North Vancouver) $17
Raincity Grill $30
Red Lion Bar  &  Grill (North Vancouver) $20
Rockford Wok |Bar| Grill  $10 (Free on Wednesday)

Siena $20 (50% off bottles on Mondays, Free corkage for the trade)

Tapenade Bistro $25
Teppan Village Whistler $25-$30

Thai House $12
Two Chefs and a Table $25 wine cannot be on the list; reservation required
Wallflower $10 (maximum 2 bottles per table) free on Tuesdays (maximum 1 bottle per table)

West $38
White Spot $10


Urban Thai $12
Vault Restaurant (Cloverdale) $20

Verace Pizzeria $10 (free on Wednesdays)

Via Tevere Pizzeria $20
Village Taphouse (North Vancouver) $20
Water Street Cafe $20
Zen Sushi (West Vancouver) $20

Beach Club Resort (Parksville) $20
Cabin 12  $8.50
Marina Restaurant $20
Brasserie L'Ecole $30
Zambri's $18

BrownstoneRestaurant $15
Chapter'sViewpoint Restaurant $15
Crush Saute& Grill  $15
Dorian GreekHouse  $15
East Side Mario's  $15
Embers  $12
Frick andFrack $20
Hot HouseBistro  $5
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar  $20
Kelly O'Bryan's  $20
Milestones $19  ($10 on Tuesdays)
Ric’s Grill Aberdeen and Ric’s Mediterranean Grill $25
Scott's Family Restaurant $10  (750ml), $15 Corkage (1L), $20 Corkage (1.5L)
Whitespot $10
ORA Restaurant Lounge $15 


These are enlightening times for British Columbian wine drinkers who now have the option of BYOW  in some participating restaurants. The biggest issue after you’ve decided on your wine to bring is that of “corkage”: the fee charged by the restaurant to open and serve your wine. Corkage looks to vary from a very low $2 to a steep  $60 depending on the restaurant. Some restaurants may offer reduced or no corkage specials at their discretion. 

Why is a restaurant charging corkage? Alcohol sales help the bottom line expenses i.e. staff wages, rent, power and gas, licenses, banking fees, stemware breakage…the list goes on. In fine dining establishments your wine will be handled by a sommelier who will  treat your wine professionally from decanting, serving, as well as steering you in the right food pairing direction.


 Contact the restaurant regarding corkage fees
Remember that BYOW is not the law and is not accepted at all restaurants. Call ahead to insure you can bring your own bottle and avoid any embarrassment.

What wine to bring
Have a look at the restaurant’s wine list on-line. Bring a bottle that s not on the list.

 Delivery of  wine
If you have a special mature vintage look at dropping the wine off 24 hours ahead of your reservation. This will allow the restaurant to prepare your wine for decanting. If you are bringing a white or sparkling consider  chilling it first.  Arriving with the wine in an insulated bag or carrier adds some class to your arrival.

Don’t bring rubbish
BYOB is a privilege; bringing a cheap bottle of wine says “ you do not care” much about restaurant or their clientele.  This is important in fine dining restaurants. I suggest buying a wine that is in the similar caliber or better than what is on the list.

Offer the Sommelier/Server a taste
In fine dining establishments or wine centric bars your server most likely has an interest in wine. Offering a taste creates an instant rapport and you may get some great food pairing suggestions for your special bottle.

Eat  out mid week and not just weekends
Friday and Saturdays are traditionally the busiest nights in the restaurant industry. BYOB on slower nights shows great respect to the restaurant and staff. Sunday through Wednesday’s are usually slower nights so you should experience more attentive service verses the hustle and bustle of a busy night.

Don’t be cheap with the TIP
Remember to base your tip on the final bill that will include the corkage fee. Hopefully restaurants offering corkage will treat your wine with due respect; served correctly and in proper stemware, and by a wine savvy server.

There is no set structure for the corkage fee. It will be decided by the restaurant and can be free to over $60 a bottle. Expect additional fees if you bring more than one bottle or larger format bottles.

Corked Wine
If your BYOB is corked I would expect a restaurant to waive the corkage fee. Consider bringing more than one bottle to avoid this issue or be prepared to buy off the wine list.

Only bottles purchased through a BCLDB distribution channel can be opened at participating restaurant. Opened bottles are not allowed.  Serving It Right rules apply. You can take the remaining wine home in a sealed tote and it must not be within reach of a driver of an automobile. You will be charged HST on corkage.