Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I live in Mississippi and bartend at a little restaurant in Pass Christian. A guest came in today and informed me that a corking fee is against the state law. I tried looking it up but I can’t seem to find what I am looking for. I would like to know if it is true, and also, are guests allowed to bring their own bottle into the restaurant or is that the restaurant’s choice?
—Misti, Pass Christian, Miss.
You’re right that “bring your own bottle” and corkage policies are defined by state laws. In Mississippi, the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control sets the rules, and it looks like businesses that have a beer-only permit are allowed to let customers bring in alcoholic beverages, including wine.
But that’s just for beer-only permit holders, so if your restaurant already sells wine, corkage won’t be legal. Mississippi also has a lot of “dry” counties (where the sale and consumption of any alcoholic beverage is illegal), so I can see how that could be confusing to residents. If a business has a beer-only permit, it’s up to them to decide if they want to allow BYOB, and to figure out if and how much to charge for corkage.
But don’t just take my word on these legal issues—I’m a fake doctor, not a real lawyer.
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