The Dos and Don'ts of BYOB

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  • By Renée Lorraine
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The Dos and Don'ts of BYOB

We’re hungry for Alexandria Restaurant Week 2014 (Aug. 15-24), and, it’s the perfect time to brush up on our list of do’s and don’ts of bringing wine to a restaurant. Since the Virginia law allowing BYOB passed in 2011, you can bring wine when dining out if the restaurant allows it. the "corkage fee" is the service charge you pay a restaurant to open and serve the wine you bring...

We’re hungry for Alexandria Restaurant Week 2014 (Aug. 15-24), and, it’s the perfect time to brush up on our list of do’s and don’ts of bringing wine to a restaurant.

Since the Virginia law allowing BYOB passed in 2011, you can bring wine when dining out if the restaurant allows it. the "corkage fee" is the service charge you pay a restaurant to open and serve the wine you bring.

A liberal corkage policy — or frankly any corkage policy — is a kindness and courtesy the restaurant affords its guests to enhance their dining experience.

Corkage fees can range from $10 to the-skies-the-limit. An inexpensive corkage fee and liberal policy encourages patrons to bring a bottle or two. A prohibitively high fee is a tacit signal the restaurant frowns on BYOB, stopping just shy of not allowing it. If they are charging $50 or $60 a bottle, it’s best to order something off their wine list — unless you’re bringing 1978 DRC La Tâche, or the like.

So, keep the following in mind when navigating the niceties of BYOB.

Do’s:

1. Always ask. When you make your reservation, inquire about the restaurant’s corkage policy and fee. Policy may limit the number of bottles you can bring, and the fee may vary depending on what and how many bottles you bring.

2. Please bring wine that is special, unavailable at the restaurant, and adds to your dining experience.

2. Upon arrival, tell the host you have brought wine to be served with dinner. He or she will communicate with the sommelier and/or server.

3. In a fine dining setting, it’s good manners to offer the sommelier a taste. On occasion, we’ve sent a taste to the chef, depending on the circumstance and the type of meal.

4. Buy a bottle — or a glass or two — off of the wine list. Bringing your own wine is not about economizing, it’s about elevating your experience. Sometimes restaurants will waive the corkage fee when you buy a bottle from their list.

Don’ts:

1. It’s bad form to just show up with a bottle of wine and expect to be accommodated. Ick. Don't do it.

2. Bringing jug wine from the grocery store? Don’t. The restaurant staff will not look forward to seeing you again, and they might just laugh at you behind your back.

3. Don’t bring a wine that’s on the restaurant’s wine list.

4. Never assume you can’t bring wine from home. There’s no harm in asking.

5. Don’t be a cheapskate. Tip on the whole check, including the corkage fee.

Here are a few local restaurants that allow corkage. Do call them before hand to confirm policy and fee.

A La Lucia     $15
RT's    $20
Vermillion     $25
Majestic Cafe   $25
La Fontaine    $20
Taverna Cretekou   $30
The Fish Market     $15
Society Fair    $15

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