Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
When bringing a special wine to a restaurant, is it OK to open it beforehand to be sure it’s good?
—James P., Seattle
As with most questions about BYOB and restaurants, my advice is always to call ahead and check. Even if you’re pretty sure that you know their policies, it never hurts to just confirm, especially if you’re thinking about opening the wine ahead of time. Here’s the full rundown of my BYOB suggestions.
While I don’t do it very often, I have brought pre-opened (and in some cases pre-decanted) wines to restaurants, but always after calling ahead and checking. When I hand it to the server, I’ll say, “I spoke with your manager about it this morning, and I’ve opened this and decanted it ahead of time.” Then I’d suggest just pouring the wine directly, skipping the try-it-first part of the ritual. I’m also known to bring backup bottles. Backup bottles are always a good idea.
If you have good reason to want to make sure the wine is fine before bringing it to a restaurant, and if the restaurant is accommodating, then you just have to make sure it’s legal to travel with open containers of alcohol where you live.