POLITICS
11/01/2011 01:44 EDT | Updated 01/01/2012 05:12 EST

BYOB: Manitoba diners can bring their own wine, but should call restaurant first

WINNIPEG - Manitoba has joined a growing list of provinces in which diners are allowed to bring their own wine — if the restaurant says it's OK.

But whether many eateries will join the voluntary program remains to be seen.

"I think people are (adopting) more of a wait-and-see approach," said Scott Jocelyn, executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

"We're in the people-pleasing business and I guess operators will see if there is indeed a demand from the public."

Changes to provincial liquor laws that took effect Tuesday allow restaurants to adopt a bring-your-own-wine policy if they so wish. But many restaurants may be wary, Jocelyn said, because they currently make a profit on bottles they sell.

"We are concerned about the loss of a revenue stream," he said.

Restaurants are being allowed to charge corkage fees to recoup some of that money and the Manitoba government isn't imposing any limit on how much they can ask. In Ontario, some restaurants charge patrons $30 or more per bottle.

But there are other concerns. It could be more difficult for waiters to prevent patrons from getting intoxicated if they're drinking their own wine, Jocelyn suggested.

Bring-your-own-wine laws have had varying degrees of success across the country. The program is popular in Quebec, where corkage fees are rare, but has not caught on to the same degree in Ontario.

A spokeswoman for The Manitoba Liquor Control Commission expects the idea will catch on, especially in smaller restaurants that don't want to carry a wide selection of wines.

"It's another service they can offer to their patrons rather than having to stock a lot of different wines," said Diana Soroka.

"A lot of the smaller places just don't have the room or the desire to do that."

Diners should call ahead to see whether the restaurant they're heading to offers the bring-your-own option, she added.