Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Jun 10, 2004 06:09 PM

BYO Wine Bill Introduced Today

  • p

The Ontario government introduced a bill this afternoon to amend the Liquor License Act to permit licensed establishments to allow patrons to bring their own wine. The patrons would be subject to a corkage fee, which would be set by the restaurant. This would be voluntary for the restaurant. The bill would also allow patrons to bring home unfinished wine. About time I say.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hoorah! Of course there's still a long way to go from the introduction of a bill to it's passing and becoming statute, but it's a big step, and a decidedly positive one at that!

    10 Replies
    1. re: arielle

      but wait...I always loved paying 200% markup on wine!! ;)

      I remember in the states saw a wine I enjoyed, get it at the LCBO for, $11-12 CAN, I think.

      They were selling it for $45 US.

      I am suprised people have not made more a stink on this in the past.

      1. re: Lorne

        But that markup is small compared to the markup on Soda, Mixed drinks, Martinis, beer etc... why the bitching? The markup on beer is over 400%

        Why is wine so different then other drinks? How about if I have a favorite scotch that nobody carries why cant I bring in a bottle of that?

        Also I am surprised they are letting you take home that opened bottle of wine... is that not illegal to carry opened liquor in public? Or while driving?


        1. re: George

          I can understand your arguments when it comes to spirits, etc. but I really don't care if I pay $3.00 for a Coke, where I could get it for $1.00 somewhere else, but paying $50 for a bottle of wine which I could get for $15...well I feel that in the 'ol wallet.

          One of the reasons I think they only would allow wine is an answer to your last question. The resturant is responsibile for resealing the wine, and putting a tamper proof sticker on it.

          Either way, even if right now it is only wine, it is a good start.

          That as well my girlfriend is alergic to many types of red wines, and it is almost impossible for us to order red off the menu without the worry. If we bring our own wine, which we know is safe, we can both enjoy a nice glass of red!

          1. re: Lorne

            Obviously any laws regarding driving a vehicle with an open bottle of liquor will have to be revised if it is currently against the law to so, or else, as Lorne said, the restaurant will have to seal the bottle. The point is: if you are over the legal blood alcohol limit, you're over it; if you're under the limit, you're under it - that is how other jurisdictions deal with the BYO question. It doesn't matter if you have an open bottle in your vehicle (and I would be questioning the legality of any police search that uncovered the booze, unless you were acting or driving in a suspicious manner in the first place). The fact is that jurisdictions with laws allowing BYO do not have greater incidences of motor vehicle accidents than jurisdictions which prohibit it. I would suggest that the 2am last call practice in Ontario - that leads people to order a round of drinks for themselves (3 - or even more - drinks to be consumed between 1.58am and 2.45am!!!!) that then leaves them out on the street and ready (?) to drive, is more dangerous than people who have taken a bottle to dinner, have chosen to not consume the entire contents before leaving, and have then driven home with the open bottle....but hey, that's just me.
            The point is that it allows many people to dine out and really enjoy themselves when otherwise they may not. Some restaurants have very reasonable mark-ups on their wine, others are absurd, and it is nice for people to be able to take a special bottle with them when they dine out, too, so that the wedding anniversary/birthday etc dinner can be the time that they do enjoy that special bottle, rather than letting it languish at home......
            So I, for one, am all for BYO. Just let's not tarnish it by bringing bottles of $5 plonk to great restaurants. We choose our wine lists to go with the food (well, the good places do, anyway) and if the guests are spending $50+ per person to eat, it doesn't make sense that they would bring a poor bottle to accompany the food, it demeans the entire DINING experience. We should support the move in every way possible.

            1. re: arielle

              Talked to an owner of my fav place on the weekend and he said if it passes and most restaurants go with it (which he doubts) that he will have to raise food costs by $5-$7 each to compansate for the lost revenue. Basically the same markup on wine is also used for Liquor, beer etc so he does not understand why there is an issue.

              The waiter also said that they may have to impose an automatic gratuity ontop of the corkage fee because when he worked in Montreal people would not tip for the wine and in Toronto he would not be able to live on a 15% of food tip ...

              1. re: Edward

                So your favourite restaurant appears to be 'subsidizing' the food to encourage people to come in and drink wine/alcohol (on which he makes up the difference).
                I hope she doesn't go with the new programme. Then I can eat cheap food there when I'm driving and won't be drinking.
                And I have no problem with a corkage fee that includes a gratuity - as long as it's spelled out.

                1. re: estufarian

                  No he does not "subsidise" the food.. He calculated that if the same number of people are now spending $70 per person instead of $90 and staying longer in the restaurant, finishing off their bottle of "free" wine, that to make the payments & salaries that something has to increase in price. It all works out to $ spent per hour..

                  Ask most places.. food prices cover food & kitchen staff costs... Liquor covers rent, insurance, and the rest... with a very tight margin for profit...

                  1. re: Edward

                    Fair enough - I accept your point about people taking longer over the meal.
                    But I still think that particular economic model doesn't reflect reality. The restaurateurs I know work on roughly 1/3 food cost, 1/3 labour and 1/3 overhead, including profit (which I also think isn't particularly realistic).

                    If the 'time is money' argument applies, why do most restaurants sell coffee so cheaply (often with 'free' refills) - doesn't that also cause people to linger (but without the $30-50 markup applied to an average bottle of wine).

                    Having had some experience (not recent) in the trade, the critical issue was 'getting the bums in the seats' - that is the point that ensures survival or failure. Increasing the average billing affects the profit margin (also important but not as critical as the first point).

                    I've discussed this issue extensively with friends - I'd say that about half will now spend less on dining out (because they'll take their own wine). The other half will spend 'at least as much' - either by eating out more often or 'upgrading' their food spending (for example, will go to more expensive restaurants because they want food to match their consumption of 'better' wines). Some restaurants wil win, some will lose, but ignore this at their peril.

                    Let me suggest a formula - the corkage charge should equal the price of the cheapest wine on the wine list. Wouldn't that overcome most of the arguments you (and your restaurateur friend) raise earlier? I'm happy as I can bring my excellent wine in. And the restaurant is still getting a return that's acceptable today.

                    But maybe that's a far more general topic that should be discussed on a different board.

                    1. re: estufarian

                      The wine saavy, and restaurant knowledgeable will not have a problem paying a fair corkage on their BYO wines. However; we all know that that is really only maybe 5% of the population at best. Think about Montreal where the majority of BYO establishments really arn't worth your dining dollars. The sad reality is that most people will start bringing $12.00 bottles of plonk in, and be upset that the corkage will be more than the cost of the wine. Finer restaurants do create wine lists to match the food, and some even go so far as to try to educate the public about food and wine. Estufarian, you may be in the 5% of knoweledgable people, with a nice cellar at home but think about all the others who don't have a clue.

                      1. re: susan

                        They just announced they have put off the bill until the fall... they want to have public hearings on the issue...

    2. j

      What are the odds of this bill becoming law before the end of August? (See the heated and lengthy thread started by my innocent query on BYO in Ontario, linked below.)


      1. Hi Folks-

        Can you please continue this discussion over on the Not About Food board. We would like to keep the focus of discussion here on finding good food in Toronto. Once you start a new thread on the Not About Food board it would be fine to post a "heads-up" posting on this thread.