WASHINGTON — It wasn’t that long ago that D.C. and the surrounding area was considered a foodie wasteland with limited dining options and only a handful of innovative chefs.
Today, the city is considered one of the best food cities in America, known for a wide variety of hip hangouts, celebrity chef outposts and exceptional restaurants. Just look at the U Street Corridor or Barracks Row for proof of a vibrant restaurant scene.
It also wasn’t that long ago when the idea of bringing a special bottle of wine to a restaurant — particularly in Northern Virginia or Montgomery County, Maryland — was frowned upon, if not outright illegal.
That was then.
Today, many restaurants throughout the D.C. region allow patrons to bring wines into their establishments. Of course, there are a few rules — known as corkage policies — that apply, as well as a few etiquette guidelines that should be followed.
First and foremost, bringing your own wine to a restaurant is a privilege, not a right. When you bring your wine to a restaurant, remember that you are using their stemware and the sommelier’s time. You are also taking away a wine sale, so please be respectful of the restaurant’s policy. After all, it’s a restaurant, not a catering hall.
Second, please make sure that the bottle you are bringing along is an extraordinary bottle of wine and one that the restaurant does not have on its wine list. Nothing is more frustrating to a restaurant owner — and potentially embarrassing to the patron — than to see their wine on the list (of course, the exception to this rule is if the wine you brought is of an older or rarer vintage). Simply calling ahead or checking out the wine list online can avoid this situation.
Lastly, I recommend that you always offer a taste of the wine to both the sommelier and your server — if allowed. A little kindness goes a long way. And a sip of a unique wine just might help the server forget the bottle of wine they could not sell to your table. It’s also good form to order at least one bottle of wine off the wine list as a way of showing your appreciation for the privilege of bringing in your wine. And please don’t forget to be a little generous with the gratuity.
Please note: Not all restaurants allow corkage. It is always wise to call ahead and inquire as to their corkage policy. It saves time and a potentially awkward situation.
So, when you want a special night out with that extraordinary bottle of wine you’ve been saving, just remember to call the restaurant ahead of time to get the scoop. That way, you’ll be assured of having a pleasant experience. And remember, please drink responsibly and always arrange for transportation if you are planning on consuming multiple bottles.
Here is a partial list of restaurants in the DMV that offer a corkage policy:
- Bistro Cacao on Capitol Hill: No corkage fee for wine bought at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill wine shop. You will need your Schneider’s receipt and a card stating the offer from Schneider’s.
- Eddie V’s in Tysons Corner, Virginia: $25 per bottle, wine cannot be on the wine list
- Capital Grille in D.C., Maryland and Virginia: $25 per bottle, wine cannot be on the wine list
- Founding Farmers restaurants throughout the region: $0 for the first two bottles
- Jaleo in D.C. and Maryland: $25 per bottle, no limit
- J Gilberts in McLean, Virginia: $20 per bottle, no limit
- Kingbird in the Watergate Hotel in D.C.: $50 per bottle, no limit
- L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Virginia: $40 per bottle
- Nostocs in Tysons Corner, Virginia: $30 per bottle
- Oyamel in D.C.: $20 per bottle
- The Palm in D.C. and Virginia: $35 per bottle
- Seasons 52 in Maryland and D.C.: $15 per bottle
- 2941 in Fairfax, Virginia: $30 per bottle
- Ambar in D.C.: $25 with a maximum of two bottles
- Espita in D.C.: $20 per bottle, no maximum
- Hamilton in D.C.: $20 per bottle, bottle cannot be on their wine list
- Old Ebbit in D.C.: $20 per bottle, bottle cannot be on their wine list
- Charlie Palmer Steak in D.C.: No charge for the first two bottles of domestic wine as long as it is not on the list. $25 corkage per bottle (two bottle maximum) for non-domestic wines
- Grill Room in the Rosewood Hotel in Georgetown: $50 per bottle, no maximum
- Nopa in D.C.: $25, with a two bottle maximum
- Oval Room in D.C.: $25, no maximum, cannot be on their wine list
- Rasika, both locations in D.C.: $25, with a two bottle maximum
- The Lafayette in D.C.: $25, no maximum, cannot be on their wine list
- Bombay Club in D.C.: $25, with a two bottle maximum
- Blue Duck Tavern in D.C.: $35, with a two bottle maximum
- Bibiana Osteria Enoteca in D.C.: $25, with a maximum of two, cannot be on their wine list
- Ardeo+Bardeo in D.C.: $25, no maximum
- 701 Restaurant in D.C.: $25 per 750 mL, with a two bottle maximum
- Lupo Verde in D.C.: $25, with a one bottle maximum
- Macon Bistro in D.C.: $20, with a three bottle maximum
- Ottoman Taverna in D.C.: $20, no maximum
- Burtons Grill both locations in Virginia: $25, no maximum
- Blacksalt in D.C.: $25, wine cannot be on their wine list
- Masseria in D.C. : $50 per bottle with a two bottle maximum and cannot be on their wine list
- Cessco in Maryland : $20 per bottle, wine cannot be on their wine list
- Mon Ami Gabi in Maryland and Virginia: $20 per bottle
- RPM Italian in D.C.: $40 per bottle with a two bottle maximum and cannot be on their wine list
Corkage policies are always changing so please call the restaurant ahead of your arrival to confirm the current policy.