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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Can I bring wine into a restaurant in Colorado?
—Jen B., Aspen, Colo.
Unfortunately, no. Colorado is one of about half of the states that forbids consumers to bring wine into (or take it out of) a restaurant.
The legality and enforcement of allowing customers to bring in their own bottles varies from state to state. One of the things that happened in the aftermath of Prohibition was the decision to let each state determine its own alcohol laws. It’s like the U.S. is made up of 50 different countries, each with their own compliance and regulatory criteria.
Even if you live in a state where BYOB is allowed, there can be further complications; certain counties or cities have more restrictive laws, and even if it is legal, it's still up to the restaurant's discretion to allow this service (and to charge a corkage fee if they wish to). And it really is a service: Every time you bring in a bottle, you’re taking a potential sale away from the restaurant. You should always call first to make sure you’re clear on their policy. And here's an etiquette tip: Don't bring a bottle of wine that's already available on the restaurant's list.
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