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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 was recently on vacation at a five-star rated resort in Colorado Springs, Colo. I had asked at one of the resort's better restaurants if I could bring in a bottle of 1994 Pahlmeyer and what the corkage fee would be. The restaurant's response was that it was illegal to bring outside alcohol on the resort premise. What gives? I have never heard of such a law ... or were they trying to discourage me from bringing my own bottle to dinner?
First off, I'm glad you called first. Even if I'm pretty sure I know what a restaurant's policy on corkage is, I always call ahead to be certain.
In certain states, it is illegal to bring wine into a restaurant. And according to the Colorado Dept. of Revenue's Division of Liquor/Tobacco Enforcement, it is against the law for anyone with a wine and spirits license to allow someone (other than a legitimate distributor) to bring alcohol through the door.
State laws vary, but the last I checked, Arizona, New Mexico and Ohio are among the states in which bringing in a bottle of wine to a restaurant is illegal. There are other variations; in some areas a special permit is required to allow corkage. And while some state laws may allow you, certain cities or counties may not.
There are some states where BYOB is legal, but restaurateurs might claim it's illegal in order to deter this practice. And just because law allows it, it doesn't mean that a restaurant is required to allow this service.
See why I say it's best to call ahead?
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