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April 16, 2021

Would you bring your own wine to a restaurant?

A night out, particularly including a glass or two of wine, can be an expensive outing. But, depending on where you live, bringing your own wine – an increasingly popular trend at certain restaurants – can help ease the pain.

In several provinces, restaurants can allow you to bring your own bottle of wine in, but they’re not required to do so.

In Quebec, where licensing is less stringent, BYOW restaurants are common. Ontario restaurants must be licenced, however, and the few that view BYOW as an option will tell you the bottle must be from the LCBO. And now Manitoba has joined the list.

But do you really come out ahead if you bring your own grog? Not really, particularly if you tend to stick to medium-priced brands.

Many restaurants charge corkage fees to recoup some of the money lost and there doesn’t seem to be any limit on how much they can ask.

The corkage fee covers service (but not tips), wine glass breakage/rental and some of the lost revenue from not selling a wine off the restaurant's list, they argue. While corkage is unusual in Quebec establishments, many Ontario restaurants charge patrons as much as $18-20 per bottle.

And they're right to do so, argues consultant Rags Srinivasan. In fact, letting diners pack their own bottle is a loser’s game for eateries since the potential pickup in bargain-hunting business will be nothing compared to the drop in revenue, he maintains.

Are you more inclined to patronize restaurants that let you bring your own wine? Are they any where you live? What's a reasonable corkage fee to shoulder?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...