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Apr 22, 2010 01:22 PM

BYOW - does it exist in Vegas??

Most other major cities have a bring your own wine 'policy' - I can't seem to find anything about Vegas. Can I assume this to mean that this is not allowed in Sin City?

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  1. You would be correct. There are laws against both corkage fees (they can't charge you money to open your bottle), and against BYOB (you can't bring it in there in the first place). HOWEVER... Most of Las Vegas isn't in Las Vegas. The actual city of Las Vegas, Nevada has Sahara as its southern border. The only Strip hotel actually in Las Vegas is Stratosphere. All of the rest of them are in an unincorporated area called Paradise, Nevada, and is under the jurisdiction of Clark County. I have tried to find anything about Clark County's BYOB policies and came up completely empty handed. It would be safe to assume that they will follow the same lines as the city of Las Vegas. However, some restaurants have been known to turn a blind eye to the policy. Call up the restaurants you're planning to go to and ask them directly. It's a safe bet that most of the Strip restaurants will say no, as many have immense wine lists and would prefer to get as much of your money as possible.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. I have found most of the restaurants where we have dined do allow you to bring in your own wine. At the Wynn/Encore, for example, they have a standard $50 corkage fee at all upscale restaurants we have visited, Todd's Unique's corkage fee is $20 and the Capital Grill is $25/bottle max of two bottles. Suggest you call the restaurants you are interested in to confirm their policy and/or price for corkage.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Philber

          Thanks so much - very interesting. We are looking at dining at Alex and have some wonderful bottles from our cellar that we'd like to enjoy with it. I will call them - thanks for the tip

          1. re: purplemax99

            I believe the corkage fee at Alex is $35 (2 bottle maximum) if it is wine not on their list.

            1. re: westie

              The corkage at all the Wynn restaurants (including Alex) is $50 per bottle.

            2. re: purplemax99

              If you go with the tasting menu, I'd highly recommend doing the wine pairings. They take them very seriously and the selections are well-thought. It's also a good learning experience since they go out of there way to explain the wine region, characteristics and reasons why it pairs with each dish. Alex is one of the few restaurants where I feel like I'm losing out by bringing my own wine. No I don't work there.

          2. As many posters have said call 1st...and never bring a wine that is on their list. That being said, while places do charge, many times I have NOT been charged by simply offering some of the wine to the sommelier and even chef, especially if an obscure and interesting wine. Picasso is very friendly and has NEVER charged me (although we do tip well!). It is all about your presentation. If you portray as a way of not spending money they are less than understanding.

            7 Replies
            1. re: LVI

              Very good advice for doing corkage anywhere you go. Thank you so much!

              1. re: LVI

                This topic makes my blood boil. Ok LVI, here a question for you:

                What if I have a bottle of Chateau Whatever that sells for $100/bottle retail that I want to take to Cafe Whatever which is a high-end place. I verify that Cafe Whatever does not have Chateau Whatever on the winelist. They do sell wines from the same region of Chateau Whatever and wines of similar quality sell for $300 to $500 on the winelist. I feel like I'm doing pretty well here since I'm getting to drink a great, aged and properly cellared wine of my choice for at least $150 less (after corkage) than I would pay for a similar wine which I may or may not want. Does this make me cheap and unworthy as your last sentence implies? Should I leave the price tag on the bottle so they know how much I spent on the bottle. I'm happy to give away a taste but am I obligated? I've been sitting on Chateau Whatever for many years now. Who's really in control here? Shouldn't it be the customers?

                In my not real humble opinion, as long as restaurants mark up prices 3 to 5 times retail, they should expect people to bring in their own wines. Offer wines at reasonable prices like Batali does at Enoteca and it's understandable to forbid corkage.

                Everytime this argument comes up it is clear that the predominance of opinions tell us that we should bend over and not abuse the "privilege" which has been bestowed upon us by the restaurants. Sounds like you agree LVI.

                Bring it on!

                1. re: climberdoc

                  I guess it's time for the semi-annual rant about wine corkage policies.

                  Crazy concept - if you don't care for the restaurant policy - DON'T EAT THERE !

                  3 -5 times retail is unfair ? MAybe it is , maybe it isn't . What is the food mark-up ? The overhead at these places is huge - rent, labor, utilities, taxes, licensing, etc, not too mention the occasional bottle that might go bad and lord only knows how many bottles end up in the hadnes of employees . Is it against the law for a biz to make $$$ ?!?!

                  that being said, I follow the call to confirm, i bring nice bottles whether or not on their list and i always ask the sommelier to taste for me and i ask to offer a glass to the chef. depending on the size of the party i will try to buy at least one bottle from their list.

                  1. re: climberdoc

                    Where to start. This thread could go in many different ways. We could talk about how restaurants charge way too much for wine. We could argue that they need to do so to stay competitive. Then we can say that if restaurants are owned by the casinos they are really are just squeezing the consumer by charging so much. All valid points and well worth chatting about.

                    But at the end of the day, I do not go to a restaurant to see how cheap I can be. I go, willing to spend money, especially in Vegas. And the way I look at it, I would much rather eat more great food than to spend it on the wine. Is that being cheap? I don't think so. My experience over the years has been nothing short of extraordinary at Picasso, for example. For years I have been bringing my own wine. But I established early on that it was more for the love of eating not lack of spending. It is solely up to the restaurant to oblige or not. And it is certainly easier to attract bees with honey.

                    1. re: LVI

                      LVI. I just don't get it. You're one of the few folks worth reading on this board so take anything I say here with all due respect. Also, I'd be quite interested to hear your answers to the scenario I posed.

                      "I do not go to a restaurant to see how cheap I can be. I go, willing to spend
                      This is the type of rhetoric that really rubs me wrong. Why you ask? Well, you're responding to my rant by saying you aren't cheap which I take as you're assuming that I am. Well actually that's not the case. I've spent more $$ than I'd like to admit in Vegas on food and wine. Recently however, I've spent a whole lot less on wine since unless I'm going somewhere with a reasonably priced wine program (i.e. Enoteca, Carnevino, LOS), I'm no longer willing to pay 3 to 5X markup necessary to drink a decent wine. I typically bring what I consider "good" wines that will pair well with the food style of the restaurant I intend to dine at. I don't stop at the QuickStop for a $2 bottle and bring it in a paper bag. I'm not sure it this is relevent since it stinks of snobbery which I despise, but I own few bottles that are less than $30. I pay corkage fees without gripe regardless of amount for the use of their stemware. I feel that this whole scenario is my "entitlement" unless again, the wine is reasonably priced which in Vegas is rare. I feel under no obligation to offer wine to the staff but would let them taste if they ask. If corkage is not offered and I have a problem with that, then I just won't dine there.

                      Why am I in the minority here? It's my sense that the overwhelming majority have conceded to being "bent over" by restaurants with overpriced wine. How will this nonsense change if we continue in this obsequious manner?

                      1. re: climberdoc

                        Thanks for the kind words climberdoc. I also enjoy reading your posts. I really do not take offense, and why should I? My cheap comment was not delivered to you by any means, but rather the person who brings a $20 of Kendall Jackson Vintner's Reserve to Picasso (trust me, I've seen it!). That is cheap. Would I like to buy a '82 Margaux off the menu and not worry about the expense? Sure I would, but that is not realistic, for me. There is a balance but what it is, I don't think it is easily defined. For one, It is about respect. Respect of the consumer to the restaurant and just as, if not more so, the restaurant to the consumer. As far saying I feel obligated to give some of my wine to sommelier/chef, that is my feeling. And I do it for several reasons. One, I love food and wine and it brings me pleasure to share that with people. Especially when it is a rare bottle. I find that even many of my friends find me "funny" when it comes to my complete obsession with how wines morph in an evening's time. How a Shiraz from Australia, a Syrah from California, and one from the Rhone can vary WILDLY, not only against each other but through out the night. And tasting with an accomplished sommelier and/or chef really can add another dimension to that evening. Many times they politely refuse the taste but many times they accept. And many times they waive the corkage fee. As I said in previous post, it is easier to attract bees with honey.

                        Those are kind of perfect world scenarios. Many places, especially top restaurants in top casinos refuse to offer corkage. And many times when they do, it is silly expensive and 1 bottle limit. I DO have huge issues with these places. Especially that most of these places exist as part of the casino's bottom-line and are not independently owned. Sorry to keep coming back to Picasso but it really is a perfect example. What keeps me coming back to the place? Is it their food? Is it the atmosphere? Is it they policy regarding BYOB? I would certainly have a harder time going there if I received an email from my friend saying that I was no longer allowed to bring my wine.

                        I think that restaurants have to abandon the 300-500x mark up across all wines. It is egregious and unfair to the consumer. I would feel more inclined to go to a Whichever Café that had a 2002 Quilceda Creek @ $180 or a 1997 Silver Oak (not a personal fan of Silver Oak but it is one of the wines that people are drawn to) @ $120, than the absurd prices they currently fetch at many "strip" restaurants. But we have to be realistic and not expect something for nothing when inquiring about corkage policies. Again, it is balance and common sense.

                        Then there is this question: If a restaurant goes to an auction to buy a hard to find wine and pays above retail prices, does the usual mark up apply at auction price or should it still be marked up by original retail?

                        1. re: LVI

                          I respect both LVI and Climberdoc and both of you have really good points.

                          I think like LVI said if you talk to the restaurant or sommelier they are usually totaly cool with it. I usually tell them while making the reservation that I have a great bottle of X and would love to have it with dinner.

                          A lot of restaurants near me have started having retail licenses so they can sell wine as well. this is great because they usually have all thier wines on a wine list at retail plus a 7$ - $10 dollar corkage. So you can get a great bottle at $45 plus corcage off thier list where normally the same bottle would be $85 to $120 on a standard list.

                2. I'm from San Diego, have a nice wine collection, and will be dining at Joel Robuchon's Mansion in July for a special occasion. Would like to bring at least one high end wine to open. Does anyone have any recent experience with whether they'll let me? If I try to call ahead, I'll be talking, I think, to a reservationist who handles all MGM dining and doesn't work for the Mansion. I can't really trust what she might tell me, so I'd like any personal knowledge anyone here might have. Thanks

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mcgrath

                    You are correct that you likely will end up talking to an MGM Grand reservationist if you call MGM Grand and ask to speak to the people at Robuchon. However, there is a trick to talking to the restaurant directly. Tell the receptionist that you have a question for the sommelier or maître d' at Robuchon, and they should transfer you directly through to the restaurant. I'd talk to the sommelier and mention what wine you plan to bring. If you hear his eyes light up over the phone, you're all set.