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Jul 31, 2007 02:41 PM

BYOB Question

What is the Philadelphia law law on bringing opened bottles of wine home from a restaurant? In NY, it is allowed -- I believe the restaurant has to put some kind of seal on the bottle (this applies to all restaurants), but I've never actually done this because there are very few BYOB's here, so we usually just get one bottle and drink it all.

I'm planning a trip to Philly in August and BYOB's are high on my list of things to do. I might want to bring two bottles (to match with different foods) but we won't want to drink two full bottles. Is this allowed?

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  1. Absolutely!
    I'd like to see them stop me from bringing back my own bottle.

    1. I checked into this out of curiosity and b/c I'm from PA originally. Looks like NY law is more strict/specific with regard to resealing/packaging the wine after partial consumption in a restaurant or hotel. In PA, laws permit you to take a partially consumed bottle home with you. Typically, there are open container laws that apply to when you get in a vehicle and they generally say that the bottle must be in a locked storage compartment not easily accessed by the driver or passengers, i.e. the trunk.

      SLA 588 allows the take home of one partially consumed bottle of wine if (i) the restaurant has the appropriate wine or liquor license, (ii) the bottle of wine is purchased in connection with a full course meal, (iii) the patron consumes a portion of the wine with the meal, (iv) the wine is securely resealed, placed in a one-time-use tamper-proof transparent bag which is securely sealed and, (v) a dated receipt for the full course meal and wine is provided to the patron.

      PENNSYLVANIA - The use of a Wine Doggy Bag is recommended
      Act 59 of 2003 allows a patron, in conjunction with a meal, to remove the unfinished portion of the bottle of wine from a hotel or restaurant.The hotel or restaurant must reseal the bottle. Resealing is not defined.

      Hope this helps. Have a hoagie for me while your in the Philly!

      1. I don't see why not.

        I've never brought opened wine bottles, but I have brought an opened French Rabbit box wine before, as well as taken one home with me. The cap makes it very convenient, and discreet (if you are concerned about that).

        1. My unofficial advice -- bring a couple of wine stoppers along, bring a wine tote bag, and place your leftovers in the trunk of your car to transport them back to wherever you're staying. If you're not driving, don't worry about it at all.

          2 Replies
          1. re: CindyJ

            Also if you don't plan on consuming both bottles, make sure the waitstaff doesn't take your cork...or just hide it :)

            If I've driven to a restaurant, I too put the opened bottle in my trunk.

            1. re: croutonpiggy

              Thanks for all the good advice. I think I go with the cork/bag/trunk route.

          2. It seems like every few weeks someone posts a question about Pennsylvania's rather odd liquor control laws and generates a litany of often contradictory responses.

            I think a lot of people might find this link to the Liquor Control Board's legal advisory opinions site to be helpful ( I was surprised to learn that for the last ten or so years, the PLCB has been publishing online the opinions they issue to licensees who write with legal questions.

            For example, in 2004 a business owner wrote to ask whether people who host or attend events in his/her catering hall can take home leftover wine. The response said that catering hall customers are prohibited from leaving the premises with alcohol that was purchased AT the club, but that restaurant and hotel patrons (a different category of liquor license) who have purchased a bottle of wine in conjunction with a meal can take the unconsumed portion of the bottle with them as long as it is resealed.

            For BYOs, the PLCB said that customers can leave with unused wine, but it is suggested for protection of the business that the restaurant, hotel, etc. require a customer to possess proof of purchase demonstrating that the alcoholic beverage was lawfully purchased somewhere else.

            So, it seems that it doesn't matter where you keep the wine (e.g. glove compartment, trunk, armored car, etc.) as much as it matters where you purchased it (liquor store, restaurant, etc.) and whether it's been re-sealed (note that the law doesn't require a BYO to re-seal wine brought in from outside).

            4 Replies
            1. re: CookieMonster

              How interesting. I wonder what happens when that "proof of purchase" shows a retail establishment in another state. Will the PLCB police demand the tax owed on that bottle? And, I can't imagine the circumstance that would require showing that proof of purchase -- is the restaurant owner going to ask me to produce a receipt before the bottle is uncorked?

              1. re: CindyJ

                Good questions to which I do not have an answer. I didn't say the Liquor Code or the PLCB's opinions made any sense, I just said that people might find them interesting! :-)

                1. re: CindyJ

                  Well, the PLCB won't be pulling you over in your car. ;) If you're pulled over by the cops and they have a need to search your car, you have much bigger problems than tax owed on out-of-state liquor.

                  Restaurants will definitely not ask you for a receipt.

                2. re: CookieMonster

                  i thought it was against the law to have an open container of alcohol in a car - hence the trunk...