A Tangle of Corkage Laws Around The Nation
on 18/02/11 at 12:44 pmIndustry
Virginia and Maryland debate whether to overturn bans on restaurant BYO; a Wine Spectator survey finds laws around the country remain a confusing tangle.
As more Americans drink wine regularly with meals, more are asking their favorite restaurants that perennial question: Can I bring my own bottle? Like most practices created in the aftermath of Prohibition, corkage laws are a jigsaw puzzle of arcane, contradictory and confusing rules that vary from state to state and even from town to town. But whether they call it “corkage,” “BYOB” or “brown-bagging,” most wine drinkers want the freedom to bring a bottle of wine from their personal collection into a restaurant.
This year, some states with longstanding corkage bans have begun to reconsider. Last week the Virginia state Senate passed a bill allowing corkage; the House is voting on it today. Groups in Maryland are pushing to end their state’s ban as well.
A Wine Spectator survey of all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, found that 25 of these allow corkage in restaurants with a license to sell wine; some also permit the practice in unlicensed restaurants, though individual municipalities—and, of course, individual restaurants—can often elect to outlaw or limit the practice. Fifteen states forbid corkage outright, and an additional 12 have more convoluted regulations.