Wednesday, July 25, 2012


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.


  1. The corking fee at The Keg has been $25 since inception. This is the 2nd time I've been to a restaurant and your posted fee was wrong.

    1. Thanks! What other restaurant? I depend on the establishments to keep me updated of they change any details. As you can see there have been very few new restaurants even bothering with corkage since September.

  2. I just called Manvirro's Indian Grill in Courtenay, and they said their corkage fee is $7-8, if you'd like to add them to your list!

  3. We just went to Ciao Thyme in Whistler. Being from Aus took a bottle and was told that they would charge corkage (he did not say how much). No problem as it is usually only 3 or 4 dollars per person back home. We nearly fell over when they put $20 on the bill and the waiter said it should have been $35!!

  4. Seasons In the Park has corkage for $20/bottle with no limit on the number of bottles you can bring.

  5. I was wondering what the etiquette and protocol are typical for a large party. I'm having a reception of 30 people, about 30ish bottles of wine. The restaurant wants to charge 20 per bottle with an additional 10% tax per bottle. They said this was because liquor is taxed 10 %, but should that apply to corkage? I thought corkage would be considered a service. What is the usual way to calculate corkage for large parties?


    "Some restaurants allow customers to bring their own unopened bottle of commercially-made wine to consume during their meal, and charge opening or “corkage” fees. You do not charge PST on opening and corkage fees because these charges do not form part of the purchase price paid by the customer for the wine."

  7. Wine prices in restaurants are too high. It is price gouging. Corkage fees is price gouging. I am not playing anymore.