B.C. may soon allow people to bring their own wine to restaurants, according to the minister responsible for B.C.'s liquor laws, Rich Coleman.
Bring Your Own Bottle, or "corkage," is legal in six Canadian provinces, including Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.
"Allowing customers to bring their own wine to restaurants is one issue the province is considering as we continue to review our liquor policies," said Coleman, in a statement issued on Friday morning.
Coleman cautioned that no decisions have been made, but wine lovers and the restaurant industry are already coming out in support of the idea.
"We actually wrote minister Coleman a couple weeks ago and suggested he should move on this fairly quickly. I think this is a good signal for consumers and for restaurants," said Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association.
Corkage fees could be $15-$20
In other provinces, restaurants often charge a "corkage fee," to offset their losses.
"Typically, in a restaurant, your average bottle of wine is probably $40. We're talking average, and on that bottle of wine, the restaurant is probably making $20," said Tostenson
"One of the things we said to the government is, allow the restaurant to charge a fair corkage fee, which would cover the cost of opening the wine and supplying the glasses, etc. It's probably going to be $15 or $20."
Sandra Oldfield, owner of Tinhorn Creek Winery in Oliver, held a Twitter forum on the idea on Wednesday. The topic got widespread attention, even trending in Vancouver.
She says corkage isn't about customers getting a good deal on cheap wine, it's about allowing them to bring in a special bottle for a special occasion – for a fee.
"It's not meant to get around the restaurant wine list. It's meant for the odd occasion where consumers are looking to bring a special bottle that the restaurant might not have on its list."