When It's Appropriate To Bring Your Own Wine To A Restaurant, According To A Sommelier

Have you ever had a favorite bottle of wine that you felt would pair perfectly with that restaurant pasta — yet it wasn't available on the wine list? You probably sat there wishing you had brought the bottle from home.

The "bring your own bottle" or BYOB concept is popular across the country among restaurants; it essentially allows dining customers to bring certain alcoholic beverages from home, such as beer or wine. It's not legal everywhere, though, so double check before you stuff a chardonnay in your handbag (via Restaurant Business). It's especially popular among restaurants that do not have liquor licenses, such as in New Jersey. But does this mean that you can never bring your own bottle to a restaurant that does have a liquor license? Not exactly, though there are some etiquette rules that come with it. One sommelier broke down when and why to bring your own bottle of vino, versus when you should leave it at home.

Here's when you bring your own bottle

When it comes to practicing the BYOB concept, it can be easy, depending on where you are. If a restaurant doesn't have a liquor license, you might be able to bring your own so long as the eatery, municipality, and state allow it. But if the restaurant has its own wine or beer list, the rules of thumb can get murky.

Joy the Baker spoke with sommelier Whitney Adams, who says there are plenty of reasons to bring your own bottle, such as if it's a sentimental or high-quality bottle you've been saving for the perfect night out. But is there a polite way to do it? "It can be slightly tacky to go into a restaurant that has a great wine list and bring in a meh bottle of wine because you're trying to save money," Adams told the outlet, though she reiterated that the main difference is the quality of the bottle. "If the wine is something special to you and you think it would pair well with the food, go for it ... just don't show up to a restaurant with some Trader Joe's Lambrusco."

You'll also want to make sure there are no corkage fees or that you're at least aware of the additional cost to bring your own. The best way to make a judgment call: If it's cheap and meaningless, leave it home. Otherwise, it's fine to bring it.