Wine Travel: How to Navigate BYOB, Flickr: cdallot

He May Not Show it, But He’s Happy with His Own Bottle!


I love restaurants that have a “bring your own bottle” policy. You get a lot more flexibility in the wine you choose while often saving more than half of what you’d spend in a restaurant. If you are prone to killing a bottle (or two) over a fantastic dinner, this can add up to around $100 – that’s real money! And in many cities around the world, there are BYOB restaurants with well-planned menus, so you aren’t going to sacrifice food quality when choosing this alternative.

So, you’ve decided to hit a BYOB restaurant on your next trip. What do you need to keep in mind?

1. Don’t go in blind: Stop by the restaurant or its website to check out the menu. If you’re even fairly serious about wine and food, you’ll want to have at least a sense of what you’re going to order before going out to pick up a bottle of wine. Otherwise, you could wind up starting your meal with a bad choice and have no way out of it. You don’t need to know exactly what you’re going to order, but if you can narrow it down, you’ll be in better shape. Also, ask the restaurant what the specials are – you want as much information at your fingertips as possible.

2. Get realistic about consumption: Think about how many people there will be in your party and how much wine you’ll drink. Do you really want to have to dash out of the restaurant during before the entrée is served to pick up another bottle? That can’t be fun. Seriously.

3. Find a good wine shop: When in doubt, you’ll find something drinkable at any liquor store. You don’t want to fall into that trap when you’re on vacation, though. Try something new; try something local. Find a good wine store (ask for a recommendation at your hotel), and take a look at wines you wouldn’t likely drink otherwise. See if there’s a hidden gem – or your new favorite – just waiting for you!

4. Be ready: Do you drink white wine? If so, you’ll want to chill it before you get to the restaurant, unless you buy it out of a cooler right before you go. Leave your bottle on ice for a while before you head out to the restaurant, just to make sure it will chill sufficiently in an ice bucket when you’re seated. The entire dining experience will be much better if you take this extra step.

BYOB restaurants offer you a rare opportunity to become your own sommelier and make the careful, interesting and exciting choices that might not be available otherwise. Don’t blow it! Think ahead, and select the wine that will make your dinner perfect.

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photo: cdallot

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