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Apr 25, 2010 09:58 AM

Can I bring a bottle of wine to a restaurant in Paris, and outer regions in France?

Hi, all. My wife and I are traveling to Europe for the first time this summer. We live in California, and are wine aficionadas, who have become accustomed to bringing our own bottles to restaurants, and paying corkage. Is this an acceptable practice in France? Our favorite wines come from Champagne, Burgundy, and the Loire valley, which are much neglected by restaurants here. We plan on traveling to these 3 regions, and will be picking up some bottles in our travels.

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  1. It's really not done much; places in the regions you're going to have more than enough bottles from local vintners in their repertoire that I think you'll get a bit of a push-back. But I've sent you an email with some ideas.
    In Paris we have lots of wine bars and bars with wine and food, etc where you can pick bottles off the shelves and for a small corkage fee endulge. Le Papilles, La Muse Vin, Le Casier à Vins, Vin au Vert and I think Chapeau Melon all do this.

    John Talbott

    1. It's not an acceptable practice in France, best to put it totally out of your mind, along with copious amounts of ice in a drink and frigid air conditioning.

      2 Replies
      1. I am slightly confused by your question. Do you really not think that the restaurants in the Loire, Burgundy and Champagne regions won't have wine lists which include significant amounts of their local produce? As John says their lists are going to be full of great local wines and the sommelier/waiter will help you find gems your may not find on your own (i.e. the restaurant will have vintages that are no longer available retail). Wine mark-ups in France are not as extreme as other countries and so BYO is very uncommon.

        When you get to Paris you will again find restaurants have strong wine lists, all will have representative wines from the regions you specify. As it is your first trip my guess is you are not familiar with many of the other good wine regions of France e.g Alsace, Beujolais, Languedoc, Rhone Valley etc. Lots of interesting wine to try, and lots of good stuff on the lists. You really don't need to BYO.

        4 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          Even in California (where we chafe at high wine list markups), we don't bring a bottle unless (1) our wine is special and (2) it's not on the restaurant’s list. (And even then, we always offer a taste to our waiter/ the wine steward, and we usually also order at least something from list.) But in the countryside of France, we've never considered (or found a need for) bringing a wine to a restaurant. Any decent local restaurant will offer a good selection of local wines . . . .

          The one time we tried to open a “brought wine” in Paris (8 years ago) it was not well accepted. (Local Paris friends joined us and others for dinner at a well-known restaurant, and brought us a celebratory bottle of Champagne; we ordered three bottles from the restaurant list, and we asked our waiter to serve the Champagne first. Hmmm/ raised eyebrows.) We quickly got the impression that this was "not done." Jake http://parisandbeyondinfrance.blogspo...

          1. re: Jake Dear

            And, Jake,
            Yes, I do follow the rules of etiquette for bringing a bottle of wine into a restaurant here in California.
            And, thank you for your anecdotes. I'm sure they will save me and my wife some consternation.

          2. re: PhilD

            Thank you. This is why I asked the question. Though I live in California, I am fortunate to have a wine store near me which features wines from all the regions you mentioned. And, I humbly assert, I am familiar with the general characteristics of all of these. The unfortunate side of this, is that, as you mentioned, California restaurants often have badly flawed and expensive wine lists. This is why we Californians who love wine, and who are not wealthy, bring wine into restaurants. And, I am indeed looking forward to discovering producers that I'm not familiar with.

            1. re: vickib

              One suggestion.

              Head to "Fish" (rue de Seine 6eme) when in Paris. It is both a restaurant and wine bar. Get there when it opens and grab a seat at the bar; the staff are good English speakers and generally understand New World/Old World wine and as a result are good tutors to direct you to interesting wines. Their list only has independents on it, and they usually have a dozen or so by the glass covering most regions and styles. There are more "authentically French" bars around but few educate as well. If hungry grab a snack, but you can simply sample then head onto dinner elsewhere.

              They also own a wine store around the corner - Le Dernier Gout - which will usually have producers doing tastings on Saturday afternoons.

          3. I'm from California and so I understand your question, but you really can't do that here. One way to think about it is that restaurants here pride themselves on wine as much as on food. Bringing your own wine would be like bringing your own food. Also, as PhilD says, wine mark-ups aren't as bad here as in the States.
            I'd recommend drinking the wine you pick up with some daytime outdoor picnics.

            1. Previous answers are correct.
              Only if you have an exceptional bottle can you ask the restaurant whether they mind or not. Ask for what the 'droit de bouchon' (corkage fee) would be. Asking this for an ordinary bottle is not something you do (for the reasons mentioned in previous posts).
              I did it myself at l'Astrance once.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Theobroma

                I have broken this rule once when a guest was late showing up for an apero at my flat and asked that I schlep the bio-natural-/unfiltered/etc bottle I'd bought at his favorite store (he/they had a fab wine list) over to a place we both knew well. I went through a whole song-and-dance about why and everyone (sommelier, chef, souschef, etc) had a sip. End of story.

                1. re: John Talbott

                  Again, thanks to all for the advice.