What is a corkage fee?

By / Magazine / September 27th, 2017 / 8

Navigating a restaurant wine list can be an exercise in extremes. Depending on where you decide to dine, selection can be over the top to barely average. That goes for cost as well, especially at those restos that pour wines not available through your local retail channels, which makes estimating their markups one guessing game shy of The Price is Right.

Any eatery worth its reputation will have a sommelier to help guide something into your glass, but if you’re one of those folks with very particular tastes (i.e. picky), corkage means a restaurant lets you BYOB into their dining room and charges you a fee for the privilege.

Legal in Quebec since the Earth was cooling, corkage is now cool in most provinces. But as with every good thing in life, there are rules. No one lets you prance in with a box of wine or a bottle of Château Homemade, and they shouldn’t. While I take issue with the corkage fees some joints charge, many I’ve frequented ask nothing earlier in the week or if you’re toting a bottle of something local.

Corkage shouldn’t be looked at as a chance to save a buck. I see it as an opportunity to dip into my cellar to enjoy a wine whose time has come at a place where someone else cooks my meal.


A freelance writer and editor, Lisa Hoekstra loves learning and trying new things. She can be found with her nose in a book or multiple tabs open on her browser as she researches the latest and greatest in the world of food, style and everything in between.

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