Bringing your own wine to a restaurant

Bringing your own wine to a restaurant: what you need to know

Have you ever felt unsure about bringing your own wine along to a restaurant? Many restaurants actually allow you to bring your favourite or special bottle of wine as long as you pay the corkage fee and follow these basic guidelines.

*BYOW = Bring Your Own Wine

Bring a unique wine

Consider checking the restaurant’s wine list ahead of time to make sure that the bottle you wish to bring along isn’t already on the list. If you are bringing your own bottle, do bring a wine that is special and not one that is bought from the local bottle store. An expensive Pinot Noir or Shiraz that was bought directly from a wine estate, or given as a birthday present, is perfectly acceptable.

Expect a corkage fee

Depending on the restaurant you choose to dine at, you can expect to pay anything from R40 to R100 to BYOW. The classier the restaurant, the higher the corkage fee will be.

Offer some wine to your server

Just because you have brought your own wine doesn’t mean that you should forget some basic etiquette. When your waiter pours your wine, offer him a glass as a friendly gesture. You will only be giving away a few sips and the generosity will be appreciated. Your waiter is, after all, uncorking, unscrewing or uncapping your wine for you – you’re still making use of his service.

*Don’t forget to tip as if you have purchased a bottle from the restaurant.

Carry a wine bag

When entering the restaurant make sure that you have your bottle of wine in a pretty bag or carrier, and not in a plastic shopping bag. If you don’t intend on finishing the entire bottle over dinner, then make sure to bring a wine stopper if it’s not a screw cap bottle.

Be discreet

It is impolite to announce to everyone or show off that you’ve brought your own wine to the table. Some restaurants don’t encourage their patrons to bring their own wine but might make an exception if you’re well-mannered and discreet.

Know which restaurants are BYOW-friendly

Before you arrive at a restaurant with your bottle of wine, it’s best to do some research beforehand. Many restaurants list their corkage fee on their website but, sometimes, searching for the information can be time-consuming. Instead, call the restaurant to ask if it’s acceptable to bring along a bottle and how much the corkage fee will be. That way, you’ll spare yourself and your dinner guests any embarrassment.

I have done some of my own research in to which restaurants in Cape Town and Johannesburg allow you to bring your own bottle of wine. (Best give them a call just to make sure).

Restaurants in Cape Town where you can BYOW

  • La Mouette – Tel: 021 433 0856
  • Saints Burger Joint – Tel: 021 5549709
  • Homespun – Tel: 021 556 2824
  • Nuri Sushi Factory – Tel: 021 4618719
  • El Burro Taqueria – Tel: 021 422 3554

Restaurants in Johannesburg where you can BYOW:

  • Little Addis – Tel: 0826838675
  • Love Food – Tel: 0836026511
  • Zoo Lake Bowling Club – Tel: (011) 646 1131
  • La Mama’s – Tel: (011) 792 7111
  • Parreirinha – Tel: (011) 435 3809

So what are you waiting for? Go fetch that wonderful Merlot from your wine rack and take it with you the next time you eat out.

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