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Lifestyle: How Corkage Can Expand Your Wine-Drinking Experience

So, you’ve signed up for a couple of wine clubs, have a wine cooler full from your last trip to Napa, are stashing a few too many boxes of wine in your clothes closet, when you give some thought as to whether you should get a wine locker to store this embarrassment of wine riches. Boom, it suddenly hits, how the hell are you going to drink it all? The best way is to share with friends, of course.

You’ve had riotous dinner parties, which are great, but you’re tired of cooking, besides who has the time? Here’s a solution: take a bottle or two with you the next time you go out to dinner with friends. Yes, restaurants are cool with you bringing your wine for corkage also known as BYOB. Corkage? BYOB? For all intents and purposes, they mean pretty much the same – taking your own bottle of wine – sometimes beer or spirits – with you when you go out to dine. The minor difference being that corkage is a fee restaurants charge to open and serve your wine; and, while there might be a charge for BYOB, often it means it’s free to bring your bottle.


Why do restaurants charge just to open your bottle? First of all, you’re not buying from their wine list which means the business is not making money on their wine, so there’s that, but you are also being served your wine by an experienced server just as if you did buy theirs, using their glassware and perhaps utilizing a bucket of ice. All kinds of restaurants, not just fancy ones, have corkage policies. Corkage, though, is a voluntary perk and not mandatory; it’s a welcoming gesture and a mark of hospitality, a reminder that you are a valued customer.

A corkage fee notwithstanding, taking bottles from your stash is also a great way to learn about food pairing by asking your server, or the sommelier, for some suggestions that would work well with your wine. Think of dinner as research! Oh, and it’s cool to offer your server a taste. So, don’t be shy, BYOB like a boss and expand your wine-drinking experience. Enjoy!


Judi Laing, Founder of BYOBlikeaBOSS.com where you can find corkage policies for over 5000 restaurants across this great nation! Cheers!


  1. This is a great reminder! Share your best bottles. As a small story, I became friends with a waiter at my fav local restaurant doing this. As he uncorked the bottle, he told me what he knew abut the region. An incredible story; we ended up inviting him for a taste. Trust your somms!

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