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BYOB at restaurants with wine lists

Bringing your own wine to fancy restaurants with good wine lists will cost you extra dough, right? Wrong.


There’s an unwritten rule about bringing a bottle of wine to a restaurant that has its own wine list, and that rule is this: You don’t do it. Yes, these restaurants offer corkage fees (usually $20 to $25 per bottle), and that would make it seem as if they’re cool with you bringing in your own booze. But when you do, they lose money, and you look cheaper than Carlo Rossi. The only exception to this rule: when you have a really special bottle the restaurant doesn’t carry.

Luckily, special is a relative term—we think saving gobs of cash on wine is pretty special. So we wondered: Is there a way this rule can work to our advantage? Is it possible to find a great bottle of wine comparable to one the restaurant offers, but which costs much less, even after you’ve paid the corkage fee?

The answer is yes—if you mimic these formulas.


They offer: 2007 Sineann “Resonance” pinot noir
Total cost: $143

You bring: 2003 Eyrie Vineyards Reserve pinot noir*, $50
Corkage fee: $25
Total cost: $75

You save: $68

*Same area, same grape, better vintage!


They offer: 2005 Paul Hobbs cabernet sauvignon
Total cost: $148

You bring: 2006 Viña Cobos Bramare cabernet sauvignon*, $35
Corkage fee: $20
Total cost: $55

You Save: $93

* Different vintage, different vineyard, same winemaker!


They offer: 2005 Olivier Leflaive “Champ Gain,” Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru,
Total cost: $160<

You bring: 2005 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseigneres*, $60
Corkage fee: $25
Total cost: $85

You save: $75

* Different producer, same area, same vintage!

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