Recently, the BC government has allowed customers to bring their unopened bottle of wine to a restaurant, and allowed restaurants to charge a corkage fee to allow you to drink that wine at the restaurant. Initially, the government was going to bring in a fixed price corkage rate, but at the last moment, decided to leave the rates up to restaurants.
The day this news broke, restaurants announced corkage rates from $2 all the way up to $65. Some have lowered their prices since launch day, but many still have corkage fees well above $20; in many cases in the $35 range or higher. Compared to almost every city in Canada that has corkage service, this is exceptionally high. Compared to most cities around the world, it is even more so.
In cities like Montreal, with a storied history of BYOW, most restaurants don’t even charge a corkage fee; those that do make it reasonable, within the $5 to $15 bracket. I feel that in Vancouver, with its high rents and expensive restaurant costs, we shouldn’t expect it to be free or even below $5 for many restaurants like it is in cities such as Montreal or Sydney, Australia. Anything up to $15 is very fair and $20 seems acceptable, but only for truly fine dining places.
This list has been compiled to help customers find good value in their GVRD dining experience, and to promote restaurants charging fair (and in some cases, generous!) corkage fees. This list of restaurants in the lower mainland was compiled from information garnered on Twitter, as well as Stephen Bonner’s corkage rates site and Mijune Pak’s Follow Me Foodie site).
I have separated out those restaurants charging $20 (in Vancouver). My belief is that $20 is reasonable for some exceptional fine dining restaurants and restaurants where you are guaranteed to get first class service for your personal bottle of wine. I do not believe that some of the restaurants charging this level of corkage fees qualify for that description. Of course, YMMV, and its up to you to decide if the various $20 corkage restaurants are worth the service.
I’ll update this list periodically. If you know of any restaurants charging $20 or less for corkage and are not on this list, please let me know via Twitter.
Vancouver Restaurants at $20 or less
- Vera’s Burgers $2 corkage fee (Multiple locations in Vancouver)
- Fray on Fraser $5 corkage fee (3980 Fraser Street)
- Verace Pizzeria $10 corkage fee (No corkage fee on Wine Wednesdays) (189 Keefer)
- Max’s Burgers $10 corkage fee (No corkage fee on Tuesdays) (521 W 8th)
- Martini’s Pizza $12 corkage fee (151 West Broadway)
- Thai House $12 corkage fee (1116 Robson Street)
- Thai House $12 corkage fee (1766 W.7th ave.)
- Urban Thai $12 corkage fee (1119 Hamilton Street)
- Pink E Thai $12 corkage fee (1152 Alberni Street)
- Salade de Fruits $14 corkage fee (1551 W 7th Ave)
- Memphis Blues BBQ $15 corkage fee (all locations)
- Browns Social House in Kitsilano $15 corkage fee (2296 W 4th Ave)
- Pair Bistro $15 corkage fee (3763 West 10th Ave)
Vancouver Restaurants charging $20 corkage fee
- Gramercy Grill (2685 Arbutus Street)
- Le Parisien (751 Denman Street)
- The Keg (Multiple locations)
- Via Tevere Pizzeria (1190 Victoria Drive)
- Fish Cafe (2053 West 41st Avenue)
- East of Main Cafe (223 E Georgia)
- Siena (1485 West 12th Avenue)
- Fable Kitchen (1944 West 4th Avenue)
- Au Petit Chavignol (843 East Hastings Street)
- The Boathouse at Kits Beach (1305 Arbutus Street)
- Hapa Izakaya (All locations)
- Thai House $12 corkage fee (116 w. Esplanade North Vancouver)
Nothing (except Vera’s already listed)
- Cotto Enoteca $20 corkage fee (6011 Hastings Street, Burnaby)
- EBO Restaurant $20 corkage fee (4331 Dominion Street at The Delta Burnaby)
- Thai House $12 corkage fee (129-4940 No.3 Road Richmond)
I’d like to point out that there is some etiquette you should consider when bringing your own bottle of wine - Stephen Bonner presents some great tips (thought some I don’t totally agree with, like the dine only mid week tip). But I’ll make it really simple:
- Remember to tip on the service
- Don’t bring a cheap wine (cheap is relative, but anything over $15 is probably a good starting point)
- If the restaurant has the wine on list that you intend to bring, that’s a bit of a slap in the face, so bring something else if you don’t want to pay 100-200% markups ;)
Lastly, this list is provided to promote restaurants charging $20 or less on corkage fees. You, as a consumer, can speak with your dollars on the corkage rates by either dining at restaurants with reasonable corkage rates (and telling your friends about them) or not taking part in the corkage system at restaurants charging prices you feel are too high.