Bringing Your Own Bottle of Wine to a Restaurant
Each state has their own regulations regarding bringing your own wine. In some states it is illegal to do so. When in doubt, call the restaurant in advance to ask about the rules.
In California it is legal and up to the individual restaurant to charge corkage or not. Corkage refers to the fee for the glassware usage and the service of the wine. An average corkage charge is $15-$20, but could be up to $50 in some restaurants. It is not uncommon, nor rude to bring a special wine to dinner at a nice restaurant – especially a wine that is rare, from an older vintage or has special meaning to you. Understandably, it is not well regarded by the restaurant if you bring wines that are very common or that are featured on their wine list.
We suggest calling the restaurant before you arrive to let them know you are bringing a bottle of wine – at this time, you can comfortably inquire about the corkage fee. When you arrive at the restaurant, you could let the receptionist know you have brought the bottle – if it needs to be chilled, they will likely take it from you then. If it does not require chilling, you can hand it to your server and let them know when you’d like to drink the wine.
As a courtesy, if you bring a red wine, order a glass or a bottle of white from the wine list. It is always a nice, and appreciated, gesture to offer a sample of your “special” wine to your server/sommelier.
Please stop by and see us at St. Supéry the next time you are in Napa Valley. We have some wonderful wines that are only sold at the winery for you to taste, and our staff would be happy to recommend local restaurants.