BYO Wine (Bring Your Own Wine) to a New York Restaurant - New York Wine Tasting
>> In a city where $100 tasting menus and $25 glasses of wine are the norm, sticker shock at restaurants is hardly unusual. But imagine sticker shock of another sort. My friends and I recently feasted at a neighborhood French bistro, and when the bill came, we couldn’t stop laughing – our meal out cost less per person than the week’s dry cleaning.
The secret of eating and drinking affordably in New York? The BYO restaurant.
While BYO restaurants aren’t nearly as common in New York as they are in neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania, a handful of restaurants allow you to bring your own wine and beer for free. Others, including some of the city’s top restaurants, charge a modest fee to serve the wine you bring in.
How to BYO Wine to a New York Restaurant
- Always, ALWAYS call ahead to check the restaurant’s corkage policy. Don’t get caught ready to open your 1982 Haut Brion only to learn that the restaurant is no longer BYO. If you plan to bring multiple bottles, call ahead to let the restaurant know.
- Unless you have a bottle ready to take with you, scope out a wine shop near the restaurant in advance. While New York is littered with corner liquor stores, shops selling more interesting bottles are not always as easy to find.
- Since you probably don’t know what you’ll order, bring at least two food-friendly bottles, even if you plan to open only one. Great choices that pair well with lots of foods are dry Riesling, un-oaked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
- Whether bringing wine to restaurants or parties, carry it in style. Built NY makes colorful bags made of neoprene, the same stuff that wetsuits are made of. The soft, stretchy material insulates the wine and the handle is easy on your hands. The company makes one- and two-bottle bags as well as a number of other handy totes.
BYO Wine at a Restaurant that Does Serve Wine
- Call ahead to confirm whether you can, indeed, bring your own wine.
- It’s always nice to offer your waiter and other service staff a taste of the wine you bring. Besides being polite, the gesture almost always ensures great service. Bonus: generous servers will sometimes waive the corkage fee.
- When dining at higher end restaurants, use the moderate corkage fee as an excuse to drink something special, not to bring Yellow Tail or another cheap wine that you drink everyday.
- Don’t bring something the restaurant already has on their list.
- Tip well. Add a little something extra if you plan to come back and want to establish a good relationship. Giving a shoddy tip when you bring your own wine is considered poor form and cheap.
Tips on How to Find BYO Restaurants
- Besides the tried-and-true BYOs, new restaurants sometimes open without a liquor license. Check up-to-date restaurant write-ups and reviews for possible contenders, and always call to verify the BYO status. Some new restaurants will waive the corkage fee or charge a modest one as a way to drum up business in those crucial early months.
- That tiny taqueria around the corner might become your favorite BYO hangout. Informal ethnic eateries sprinkled throughout Manhattan and the boroughs often don’t have a liquor license and are happy to let you bring your own beer or wine. Always confirm the policy ahead, of course, and expect to bring your own corkscrew.
Visit Some of My Favorite New York BYO Restaurants
It's only fair that I share the names of some of my favorite BYO restaurants, those with and without corkage fees. Click HERE for the list. If you'd like to add one (or more!) to the list, send your suggestion to Littleviews.
Questions or comments?
Crush Wine & Spirits
153 E. 57th Street
Between Lexington and 3rd Avenues
New York, NY 10022
Article by Kristin Donnelly. First published on 3/3/2006. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.