So you’re sitting down for a meal at a fantastic restaurant that just happens to be BYOB (bring your own booze, or as we like to say, BYOW – bring your own wine). You greet the host, settle in at a table, and take out your bottle of wine. Now what? Do you go ahead and open it with that handy corkscrew you always carry? Do you ask the server to decant it for you? Do you jump on the table and shriek, “I demand service!” Fear not, here’s what to do.

There are restaurants that serve alcohol and allow you to bring your own, and then there are places that are exclusively BYO. In either situation, start by informing your server that you’ve brought some wine with you. This is an ensured way to figure out what’s what. Most likely, your server will offer to open your wine. They may also offer to decant it, or do so upon request. If your server runs away with your wine and returns with a decanter that seems a little short on the wine, it’s most likely because the sediment was filtered out, leaving your wine a little thinner in volume. If this is a white wine that needs chilling, feel free to ask for an ice bucket.

This is where you should open your wine at BYOB restaurantOnce your waiter brings you back your wine, the server will pour you and your dining guest(s) glasses, just as they would if you’d ordered the wine in house. The only difference is that he or she might not pour you that preliminary sample, since you brought the wine yourself. The server will then leave you to it, and should keep pouring your wine for the remainder of your dining experience. If you’d prefer to pour the wine yourself, make sure you vocalize as much.

Get the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.

Now, let’s say you’re dining at an ultra-casual restaurant. The same rules apply. Tell the server you’ve brought your own wine, and follow his lead.  He may just bring you a corkscrew and tell you to go hog wild. If this is a really anarchistic restaurant and there are no servers, well, bring your own corkscrew. No matter the situation, you will most likely have to pay a corkage fee, even if your bottle has a screw cap.

While every restaurant is different, in general, BYO places serve wine very similarly to restaurants that exclusively serve their own wine. You’ll skip the decisions, decisions chat with your server and you’ll pay a corkage fee as opposed to an actual bottle price, but the rest of your meal should operate as normal. And remember, when in doubt, ask the server what to do. This is your meal, you’re the boss, so don’t be afraid.