You may have heard yesterday that a Bring Your Own Wine (BYOW) program has been legalized in British Columbia. You will now be able to bring your own bottle of wine to a restaurant to enjoy with your meal by paying a “corkage fee” for the convenience, and hopefully will be able to avoid some of the mark-up that would be charged (typically a 100% increase in the price).
Participation in this program will be optional for all restaurants with a liquor license, so be sure to check ahead before going. As well, each restaurant will be able to set their own rates. Currently, in parts of Canada that already have a BYOW program, these range from $0-$60 per bottle (www.bringmywine.ca).
I think this is a step in the right direction, but once again, the Craft Wine Industry has been left out in the cold. One of the stipulations is that the wine you bring to the restaurant must be a commercially available bottle – “No UVin or homemade products are permitted”. It doesn’t appear the government-owned liquor stores would ever risk losing out on their 123% mark-up on wine, whether it is the restaurant or direct consumer that is purchasing it.
For full details see the policy directive from the Liquor Control and Licencing Branch: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/lclb/docs-forms/policy-directive-2012-03.pdf
BYOW/BYOB (BYO Beer) is not a new concept, but is one that most people in BC aren’t very familiar with.
When I lived in Scotland we always picked out restaurants based on who was offering “free corkage” that night. One of our frequent stops, Khushi’s, was a favorite among students from the University of Edinburgh. Reservations were always needed based on the fact that they have no corkage fee on wine or beer. We would often grab a six-pack and a bottle of wine on our walk to the restaurant, allowing us to splurge on a night out while not having to restrict ourselves to refills of ice water…
At least for the time being, the program in BC is restricted to wine only, but it will be interesting to see how different restaurants use the new regulations to market themselves. I imagine a lot of the main-stream places will steer clear of this, but I look forward to trying a lot of the smaller places that decide to offer discounted corkage nights, or that choose to have no fee at all!
What do you think of this program? Is it something that you will take part in?
Would you like to see it expanded to possibly include beer and Craft-made wine?