Wednesday Wine 101: All About Corkage Fees

Despite the fact that it debuted over 10 years ago, it seems that Ontario’s Bring-Your-Own-Wine program remains woefully underutilized by most wine drinkers. That’s too bad, because in many cases BYOW could add up to substantial savings – especially for those who make their own wine.

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To help you seize the savings (where possible), we’re crunching the numbers on corkage fees. After all, when it comes to saving, information is power!

Know the Fees

Corkage fees are not regulated by AGCO – they’re set by the establishment in question. That’s why they vary from one restaurant to the other, from $0 in many places to over $40 in some higher-end restaurants. Luckily, the average across the province is $15, so there are many places where bringing your own wine is much more cost-effective than ordering from an overpriced wine list.

To B(YOB) or Not to B(YOB) – That is the Question

Deciding whether or not it’s worth bringing your own bottle probably depends on whether you’re facing a $10 or a $25 corkage fee. To find out, it’s best to call ahead to ask the restaurant before making the trek with your bottle. (You can also check BYOW.com – but unfortunately the site seems to be out-of-date with current Durham Region dining options).

Rare wine? Great vintage?

Your decision may also depend on the wine you have in mind. If you have a strong preference for a wine varietal not widely available, or if you have a particularly good bottle that you’d love to share, bringing your own wine is a simple way to make sure that it’s available for the occasion.

Remember to tip!

Even if you bring your own bottle of wine, it’s customary to tip your waiter as though you had ordered a bottle (since it still requires the same amount of work from them!). It’s also a nice idea to offer them a taste – especially if it’s a bottle you’re particularly proud of.

Have you ever brought your own wine to a restaurant? What was your experience with corkage fees? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

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