At Some Restaurants, BYOB Really Is Free

byobMost fine-dining establishments will allow you to bring your own bottle of wine to accompany a meal – but diners usually have to pay a corkage fee, which can range from $15 to $60 (and up). Recently, though, some savvy restaurateurs have reduced or waived corkage fees altogether on certain evenings. In Manhattan, for example, the Bar Room at the Modern offers “sommelier-free Sundays” and at Alto there’s never a fee. Similarly, in Minneapolis, FireLake Grill House waives corkage on Sundays while Manny’s Steakhouse has dropped its $25 charge.

Bringing your own wine can, obviously, save money, but it can also enhance the dining experience. It brings up opportunities to engage the sommelier or server, sharing a sip with her and, perhaps, getting some unique tips on dishes that would complement what you’re drinking.

If you’re thinking of bringing in a bottle, call the restaurant to confirm their policy and fee, (if there is one). Try to bring something special – not just a run-of-the-mill red to save money, but, rather, a bottle you’ve been saving or one that isn’t on the restaurant’s wine list. Also, stick to wine; not Coke.

How often do you bring your own wine when you dine out? Do waived or reduced corkage fees make you more likely to visit a restaurant?


  1. Jack says

    Just had a great meal in Napa valley ( Bistro Jeanty , ), where there is happily much waiving of corkage these days. Jeanty is doing an increasingly popular approach of buy-one-waive-1-corkage fee. This seems fair to both parties, assuming it doesn’t encourage couples to drink more than they should!

  2. Kat Nunn says

    You’d think in this economy more fine dining restaurants would abandon or reduce the corkage fee. That is not the case here in San Diego. I am arranging a birthday dinner for my husband and will have eight guests. I would have liked to buy bottles of husbands favorite champagne which the restaurant does not carry but am balking at the $25 corkage fee. The dinner tab will be well over a thousand dollars so I was surprised that they would not reduce the fee or acquire the specific champagne for me. I would like Open Table add a list “No Corkage Fees”. Regards

  3. Nancy says

    We really got into this concept on recent trip to Healdsburg. n Minneapolis where we live, it is a rare thing for people to bring their own wine. We’ve done it one or two times and it works out great. I would also appreciate info on which restaurants allow it corkage, as well as a list “No Corkage Fees”.


  4. Jerry says

    It would be a value for Open Table clients if Open Table would list resturants that offer BYOB as well as if it exist the corkage fee.


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