Our group attended a popular Errol St eatery last Saturday night only to be refused our BYO wine. What was puzzling about this was that their status as a 'BYO wine' restaurant is well publicised even to the point where they confirmed the corkage cost ($6.50pb) to us in advance. Is this the emerging trend of restaurants today, picking and choosing (on a whim) the nights they will offer the BYO wine option to their patrons?
Pat Nourse, Gourmet Traveller restaurant critic answers:
The offer to bring your own wine to a restaurant is a great one – it gives you the opportunity to match pickings from you cellar to great food and can substantively reduce the cost of your meal. But it’s something many diners take for granted. Most countries don’t have BYO, and it’s more a privilege than a right. Restaurants are free to set any conditions they choose on what, how and when you can bring wine in, and how much it’ll cost you. It’s becoming increasingly common for restaurants to offer BYO on quieter nights earlier in the week as an enticement to locals and then switch back to wine from their list only on Saturdays and Sundays.
While it’s important for restaurants to make it very clear when they will and won’t accept BYO, the best policy as a diner is to always check when you’re making your reservation. It’s worth noting, too, that there are good BYO manners and bad BYO manners particular to licensed restaurants which also offer BYO. Bringing bottles of wine available on the list or of significantly lesser quality than those listed is considered bad form, and it never hurts to order a bottle or two from the list to supplement what you’ve brought.
Wet sales, as they’re called, are crucial to the financial viability of most restaurant businesses. Much as we diners like BYO, we have to remember that if the restaurants we love aren’t making any money, they won’t be there next time you’re looking for somewhere to eat – BYO or no.