Over many years spent working as a sommelier I definitely saw a rise in requests to bring your own wine to restaurants. It is not only a response to harder times – if you have a good bottle nothing you cook at home will do it justice (at least not if you cook like I do).
Many restaurants welcome B.Y.O. and will charge you a corkage fee. Fair enough – this goes towards the glasses you drink the wine from, the sommelier decanting (if necessary) and serving the wine and all the other frills associated with dining out.
So in my personal experience of B.Y.O. as a customer and of accommodating it on the other side of the fence, here are a couple of tips on the do’s and don’ts (and yes, the don’ts, have all actually happened).
- Sit down at your table and immediately pull out as many bottles as you would like to drink as and when you feel like them.
- Bring a £10 bottle of Jacob’s Creek.
- Agree to bring one bottle, show up with a magnum and only expect to pay single bottle corkage.
- Call up beforehand and let the restaurant know you would like to bring some wine. If they allow B.Y.O., tell them how many bottles you’re intending to bring - some places may only allow one per table.
- Offer the sommelier a small taste of the wine. It will most likely be something they have not have tasted before and any opportunity to taste something new is great!
- Bring a wine that excites you. Most people do B.Y.O. to commemorate a special occasion, so make it a memorable bottle.