Ask Adam: Why Do I Have to Pay a Corkage Fee When I Bring My Own Wine?

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Ask Adam: Why Do I Have to Pay a Corkage Fee When I Bring My Own Wine?

Why do I have to pay a corkage fee at a restaurant if I bring my own wine and why does it vary so much?
If you have a special bottle at home that you’d rather drink with your meal instead of ordering a bottle off the list, then you’re going to have to pay a corkage fee. This is because by bringing in your own bottle, you’re taking away one the largest margin products from the restaurant — without alcohol sales, most places would find it very hard to stay in business. But the fee you pay is not going to be consistent from restaurant to restaurant.

I consider a fair fee to be between $30 and $40, but don’t be surprised if you see a fee that’s much higher than that. That’s often because the restaurant doesn’t really want you to be bringing in your own bottles, so they make it prohibitively expensive if you still decide to do so. I don’t love dining at these types of establishments, as I find them to be much too snooty for my tastes.

And call before you go to ask about the fee. One of the most awkward and annoying situations is arriving at the restaurant with a bottle in hand only to be told the fee is either extremely high, or they don’t allow outside bottles at all.

If I bring a bottle of wine to a BYO and it isn’t opened, I get to take it home, right?
Yes you do! However, if you weren’t the only person to bring a bottle of wine to the BYO and the bottles everyone else brought were opened, while yours was not, the nice thing to do would be to invite everyone back to your place and offer to split the bottle.

I make a killer home brew and sometimes sell it to my friends, is that legal?
While it is completely legal for you to brew beer in your home and share it with your friends, you absolutely have to do so without money changing hands. If you are putting value on a brew you made, and you don’t actually possess a license to brew commercially, unfortunately you are breaking the law.

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