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Feb 8, 2013 11:06 AM

Leftover "doggie bag" wine in San Diego

Last night, a friend and I had dinner at the Cueva Bar in University Heights. We bought a bottle of wine but only drank half. For years - decades actually - I have been taking bottled wine home if it was not finished and I thought it was law that food establishments in California were all permitted to let one do so. But last night they would not let us take the wine out - the server (who I think was the owner) said that their license would not allow them to let customers take away leftover wine.

We stayed and drank it (we didn't really want it, but I wasn't about to let a $44 bottle of wine go to waste). I am wondering if there is a specific kind of license here that does not allow patrons to take home leftover wine?

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  1. My understanding -- from workshops I've attended on this sort of thing -- is that the "California Walkout Law" (as it is colloquially referred to) trumps the license restrictions (which are very common in SD) prohibiting off-sale of wine. So, even if a place has a license restrictions against off-sale of alcoholic beverages, it shouldn't matter, as the law is designed to permit you the guest to take the unfinished bottle home (so you don't feel forced to finish it and drive).

    However, the agencies involved do not go out of their way to make this super clear to restaurant owners, so much so that, even as a restaurant owner, I'm a little hesitant to assert my understanding of the law with authority. So it's pretty understandable when an owner errs on the side of caution. I

    1. This is from:

      Q. 92. May partially consumed wine bottles be removed from an on-sale licensed premises?

      A. Yes, but only from on-sale licensed premises maintaining a bona fide eating place (Section 23396.5


      Bona fide eating places carry license Type 41, 47, or 49 in CA.

      Cueva Bar carries a Type 41 liquor license.

      1. Interesting idea- I'd think they'd be more likely to have trouble by encouraging the drinking than to let them take the bottle.

        1. If you did take a half bottle of opened wine home with you, make sure you put it in the trunk since it would be considered 'open container'.

          1. thanks everyone. I'll start carrying the license codes Stifler's mom provided in case this happens again.