Etiquette of Bring Your Own Wine and BYOB Corkage at Restaurants

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This concept is actually new to me, though it is fairly common outside of North America. Most establishments will say you cannot bring any outside food or beverages into the establishment. Well, apparently you can! Of course, this doesn’t mean you get to act like you were raised in a barn. There is proper etiquette when it comes to bringing your own wine or bringing your own beer to a restaurant. Find out the BYOB etiquette below.

BYOB Etiquette

Bring your own bottle (BYOB) restaurants are a great way for you to dine out without selling your kidney to get a bottle of their high markup wines. Plus, you get to drink exactly what you like and your server spends more time on your other needs such as your food!

Related: How to Carry Wine on an Airplane

Before you visit a BYOB restaurant, read below to understand the proper etiquette and tips to bringing your own bottle!

BYOB Etiquette

When you bring your own bottle of wine or beer, you want to make sure you aren’t being rude to the establishment. When it comes to bringing your own stuff into the restaurant, you don’t want to look like a blubbering infant doing it.

  1. Do not bring bottles the restaurant sells. This is rude to the establishment. When you BYOB, it is important to bring something you wouldn’t be able to get while dining at that particular place.
  2. Do not bring hard liquor. BYOB policies generally only cover wine, cider and beer.
  3. Call the restaurant ahead of time. (Or otherwise verify their BYOB policies, such as on their website.) This is a good idea because you can verify they are a BYOB restaurant.
  4. Ask about a corkage fee. Some restaurants will charge you a fee if you bring your own bottle (see corkage fee below).
  5. Tip generously. Just because you may pay a fee to BYOB doesn’t mean it goes to the server. Be sure to tip 15-25% of the total amount of money you spent including the fees.
  6. Close your bottle. When you are finished pouring glasses, it is important to keep a lid on the bottle. This is not only proper etiquette, but could be the law in some states.
  7. Keep it classy. You don’t want to show up with a boxed wine or wine stored in a plastic grocery bag. Keep it classy by bringing a tote or bottle carrier, and an appropriate reusable cap.
  8. Keep the laws in mind. Some places have an open container rule which means even if you have some left in your bottle, you won’t be able to take it with you. So, be aware of the laws before you go in.
  9. Stay in control. When you go to a restaurant, you aren’t at a bar down the road. You are in an upscale establishment, so stay in control. You don’t want to be downing a whole bottle of wine and acting out.
  10. Be respectful. Just because you are allowed to bring in a bottle doesn’t mean it is your home. Be respectful of the establishment, servers, and bussers who will be helping you.
  11. Choose a designated driver. No one should drink and drive even if they are only having one glass. Choose someone to be the DD so nobody gets hurt.
  12. The best guests offer a taste. Offering a taste to your server shows gratitude and humbleness. If you want to get good service, share a taste.

What is a Corkage Fee and BYOB Etiquette?

Some BYOB establishments may require a corkage fee. This is where the restaurant will charge you an extra fee for the privilege of bringing your own bottle. These fees vary from one restaurant to the next. Some charge a flat fee whereas others may charge you by the bottle.

Because you are being charged to bring your own bottle, it is still proper etiquette to expect the same level of service for your bottle as you would ordering a bottle from the restaurant. However, remember that fee doesn’t go to the servers, so tip generously.

If there is no corkage fee, you cannot expect service on your bottle and the service you get will be informal.

Be sure to call ahead to find out about corkage fees.

How Your Bottle Will be Serviced

When you arrive and your host shows you to your table, you can mention to your host or your server that you have a BYOB and would like it served at your table. You can place the bottle on your table.

Depending on whether or not there is a corkage fee, servers may pour your glasses. If there isn’t a fee, you may be required to pour your own glass. In any casual BYOB restaurant, the servers will usually open the bottle for you and provide you with drinking glasses. In some places, they may even bring an ice bucket to chill your wine.

However, if you require anything extra such as: a decanter, ah so, or stemware, you will need to contact the restaurant beforehand to find out if they can accommodate you with those items. Keep in mind a place that sells only beer will probably not have these items on hand.

Restaurants that Refuse BYOB Etiquette

Maybe you want to have your 50th birthday at a certain restaurant, but you know they do not allow customers a BYOB privilege. While it is important to always comply with a restaurant’s rules and policies, some may bend the rules for special occasions. Here are a few occasions you may be able to do it for:

  • Wedding anniversaries
  • Wedding Receptions
  • 50th birthday celebrations
  • Graduations

Contact the restaurant about your special celebration, if it is located in an area where BYOB is a legal option. Ask if they would be willing to bend the rules just for this event. This is perfectly acceptable to ask. However, don’t just show up with your own bottle in hand. Also, be prepared to pay a corkage fee for these events since the restaurant is bending their rules for you.

Related: Ten Clever Ways to Sneak Wine into Outdoor Events

Which Restaurants are BYOB Restaurants?

Typically restaurants that offer a substantial amount of wines, beers, and cocktails will not allow you to bring your own bottle. So, you want to visit restaurants that have a limited selection of alcoholic beverages. So, do your research, and look at the drink menu to see. Some of the best places to BYOB are Thai, Korean, Chinese, Indian, and sushi restaurants.

What do you think about bringing your own bottle to a restaurant? Share your thoughts, comments, and BYOB etiquette tips in the comments below!

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