Can You Bring Home Leftover Wine from Restaurants? Your Guide to Cork and Carry Laws

Can You Bring Home Leftover Wine from Restaurants? Your Guide to Cork and Carry Laws

Taking an Open Bottle of Wine Home: Navigating Restaurant Policies and Legalities

For wine enthusiasts, dining out often involves the enjoyment of a bottle of wine. However, there are occasions when the bottle isn't finished by the end of the meal. This raises a common question: "Can you take an open bottle of wine home from a restaurant?" The answer involves a blend of legal considerations, restaurant policies, and practical advice. This article delves into these aspects to offer a comprehensive guide for wine lovers.

Understanding the Legal Landscape

The ability to take an open bottle of wine home largely depends on local laws and regulations, which can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. Many regions have adopted "cork and carry" laws that allow patrons to take partially consumed bottles of wine home from restaurants. These laws are designed to encourage responsible drinking by removing the pressure to finish a bottle in one sitting, thereby reducing the risks associated with drunk driving.

However, there are specific conditions attached to these laws to ensure public safety:
  • Sealing Requirements: Typically, the open bottle must be resealed in a way that makes it tamper-evident. This often means placing the bottle in a sealed bag.
  • Transportation Guidelines: Laws usually specify how the resealed bottle should be transported in a vehicle, often requiring it to be placed in the trunk or another area not readily accessible to the driver.

Cork and Carry, or Merlot to Go, Laws by State

Check out our reference article showing if you can take an open bottle of wine home from a restaurant, with specific guidelines for taking an open bottle of wine home from a restaurant. Find the info you need in a table showing rules by state:

View Cork and Carry Laws by State - See How You Can Bring an Open Bottle of Wine Home from a Restaurant

Restaurant Policies on Wine Corkage and Takeaway

Beyond legalities, individual restaurant policies play a crucial role. Some establishments may have a "corkage fee" policy, allowing customers to bring their own wine and take home whatever is left. Others might offer the service of resealing open bottles for takeaway even if the wine was purchased from their menu. It's important to inquire about a restaurant's specific policy on taking wine to go, as these can vary widely.

Tips for Taking Wine Home Safely and Legally

  • Ask in Advance: If you anticipate wanting to take wine home, ask about the restaurant's policy when making your reservation or upon arrival.
  • Understand Local Laws: Familiarize yourself with the laws regarding alcohol transport in your area to ensure you're in compliance.
  • Safe Transport: Always place the resealed wine in the designated area of your vehicle to avoid legal issues.
  • Wine Preservation: If you're concerned about the wine's quality once opened, consider bringing a wine preserver or asking the restaurant if they have one.

The Bottom Line

Taking an open bottle of wine home from a restaurant is a wonderful way to enjoy better quality wine when you dine out. And yet, you need to know the nuances of legal and policy considerations. By understanding local regulations, wine lovers can enjoy their favorite bottles responsibly and safely, without the pressure to finish every drop in one sitting. This practice not only enhances the dining experience but also promotes a culture of responsible alcohol consumption.

Keep the wine tasting fresh after you bring it home! Click image above to buy a can of VineyardFresh

Bring the bottle home safely and legally - have a bag on hand, or ensure the restaurant uses a compliant wine bottle take home bag! Click the image above to buy a pack of take home bags


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