On Bringing Your Own

Good company, a rare bottle, plus a BYO friendly/wine savvy place all add up to the perfect occasion to bring your own bottle.

My friend and passionate wine lover Tom Svolos and I met up recently at La Buvette, one of our favorite BYO-friendly spots, to drink a bottle of Schlossgut Diel Riesling Schlossberg GG 2007. I’ve been talking up these wines ever since a visit to the estate last fall, and Tom, having just received his allocation, was champing at the bit to open a bottle. With Buvette’s delicious moules à l’estragon and plenty of other bottles on hand to supplement the evening, this was the perfect time and place for bringing our own bottle. The subject of BYO and corkage has long been a touchy one between restaurants and their patrons, but many diners see BYO as a way to save a few dollars or an opportunity to open a cherished bottle from their cellar for a special occasion. From the restaurant’s perspective, BYO and charging corkage can either be an essential part of its business plan, or a frustrating detriment to its bottom line. One of our goals at WinetoMatch.com is to take away the anxiety surrounding wine and the mystique that surrounds its consumption, and we hope you’ll find our website useful if you choose to bring your own.

Here are a few thoughts on the subject of BYO as well as a couple of dos and don’ts:

• First and foremost, do your research and make sure the restaurant allows BYO, as well as learning the corkage fee. BYO may be your only wine option at some restaurants, while it might be illegal (literally) at others.

• Check the restaurant’s wine list online or ask the reservationist if the bottle you wish to bring is on their list. If that bottle is on their list, the restaurant will probably turn you down.

• If saving money is your only motivation for bringing your own bottle: reconsider.  The restaurant is unlikely to be charging less for corkage than the profit it would gain from its average bottle sale, and you might miss out on discovering something new from their list. BYO, where allowed, is intended to give the diner an opportunity to drink something special or truly unique from his or her cellar. And if you honestly believe that a particular restaurant does not have any affordable or value-priced bottles on their wine list, why go there at all?

• Consider that much of the fun of dining out is the possibility of discovering something new. Many restaurants are working from a specific concept or specialize in certain areas. For example, it would be a shame to dine at the southern Italian inspired A-16 in San Francisco but then miss out on their amazing list of southern Italian wines. It would be equally unfortunate to dine at Le Bernadin in New York (one of America’s greatest fish restaurants) only to spoil the evening with a blockbuster Cabernet from home. One of my greatest pleasures is dining at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California and discovering something new on their list from their neighbor, the importer Kermit Lynch.

posted on June 26 2009 by jesse

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