By The Canadian Press, July 19, 2012
[Editor's Note: Ontario has been for several years allowing certain restaurants to obtain a special license allowing customers to bring in their own wine, and even to bring the remainder home. It is a great option for some people who want to enjoy a special premium vintage with their meal. Strange to see Ontario being so progressive with their liquor laws for a change. For a list of participating London-area restaurants, please read the London Dining Review article at http://www.londondiningreview.com/bring-your-own-wine-in-london/]
Pairing a prized wine with a favourite restaurant is now on the menu for British Columbians after the province opened the doors for people to bring their own bottle when they dine out.
The government announced Thursday a change in regulations allowing establishments to offer diners the option of bringing a personal bottle that staff will serve alongside the meal.
Each participating restaurant will be able to determine what it will charge for the service, which is called a corkage fee.
“We’re not going to go out there and dictate a price or dictate how they do it, we’re now saying you now have the opportunity,” said Rich Coleman, the minister responsible for B.C.’s liquor laws.
He said fee will likely range from a couple of dollars to something more substantial, if the venue is more upscale and has bigger profit margins.
“They get the flexibility to do what they want, and if they don’t want to do it they don’t have to do it either.”
That leeway also means the government won’t be required to send inspectors around to check up on venues.
Restaurants must join the government’s new Bring Your Own Wine program to participate.
Coleman said the change is most intended to help smaller establishments that may serve tasty food but don’t have the capital to invest in a large liquor selection.
Restaurants that have corkage fees in other jurisdictions have seen about four to five per cent financial benefit from additional customers taking advantage of the service, he said.
“Wine is a personal taste type item,” he said. “It’s really about giving people a choice.”
Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Service Association, called the change common-sense.
“More business will have result in positive economic impacts such as increased employment and downstream benefits to suppliers of the industry,” he said in a release.
Restaurants will still abide by long-time rules governing liquor consumption, such as ensuring patrons don’t consume too much. Bootleg brew will also be barred from entry, with venues able to check bar codes on unopened bottles before filling up anyone’s glass.
Coleman said the change occurred as part of a greater overhaul of laws on the books that need to be deregulated.
Several other provinces already allow people to bring their own wine into restaurants, including Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.