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5 Expert Bring-Your-Own-Wine (BYOW) Tips at Restaurants

Photo: Sonja Pieper


Restaurant bring-your-own-wine (BYOW) policies for patrons continues to spread across Canada (welcome to the club, British Columbia), with some savvy venues enticing diners with reduced corkage fees, or sometimes waiving them entirely.

Considering wine markups at most restaurants, this could save customers a bundle, though it puts a twist conventional wine service.

Here are some etiquette tips for bringing along your own bottle:

  1. Do some digging to avoid bringing a bottle that is already on the restaurant’s wine list.
  2. Feel free to ask for your server to decant or put your bottle on ice, though dropping it off earlier in the day might be wise if it requires serious chilling.
  3. Consider putting your server’s pairing prowess to good use for choosing pre-dinner aperitifs or a dessert wines.
  4. As a courtesy, offer to pour a taste from your bottle for the restaurant’s sommelier or your server.
  5. When calculating gratuity on your bill, account for the corkage fee. If the restaurant charges a $30 corkage fee and you are planning a 20 per cent tip, consider adding an additional $6 in gratuity. If the corkage fee is waived entirely (lucky you!) tip based on what the retail value of the bottle would be if it were on the restaurant’s wine list.

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette writer and advisor. follow her on Twitter @schoolfinishing or send questions via Formspring (/KarenCleveland).

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