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?