Picture Source: Savvy Spice blog
A TOUCH OF HISTORY
It all started on the other side of the world: in the early 1960’s restaurants in Australia and New Zealand were the pioneers of BYO or BYOB i.e the custom of bringing your own bottle, be this wine or beer. Ten years down the line, Canada and the U.S. followed suit and paying a corkage fee for a bottle of wine became an accepted policy in American restaurants, especially in private members clubs.
In the early 90’s, New York became the first city famous for launching and promoting BYO evenings in its finest restaurants. The ideological purpose was to demystify wine and to make the whole fine food and wine combo more democratic. 15 years later, fine dining and BYO tend to go hand in hand in the States presenting high-quality food & wine matching in a more user-friendly environment than anywhere else in the world!
KEEP CALM AND BYO
London and the U.K. in general have been renowned for economical BYOB Asian eateries instead. More and more street food premises smartly fall back on the lack of an alcohol license by allowing customers to bring in their own beverage to enjoy with the food.
FINE FOOD AND YOUR OWN BOTTLE OF WINE
Due to the misunderstanding that is commonly associated with a BYO policy, the extent of its popularity has been diminished by British diners - a lot of restaurants are simply not interested in promoting the numerous benefits of their customers bringing along their own bottle of wine.
JOIN THE BYO REVOLUTION
Between 2009 and 2010, and thanks to some forward-thinking and multi-award winning chefs, a selected few top London Restaurants have started to encourage and promote BYO on early and mi-week evenings. More lenient on the topic than ever before, they broke the rule book of fine dining, embracing a more relaxed attitude. The democratisation of high-quality food and wine, however, has a long way to go. Hopeful and highly convinced of a cutting-edge BYO revolution, Humble Grape has researched some of the best gourmet venues in this grand city that allows BYO and has compiled a small but handy list of fine restaurants in London where you, wine lover or connoisseur, can sip that Tokaji purchased on your last foray to Hungary or celebrate your birthday with that dusty bottle of 1990 Claret from the cellar.
Picture Source: BYO Bottles
3 GREAT REASONS FOR RESTAURANTS TO ENCOURAGE BYO
1. Spice up your quiet Sunday, Monday or Tuesday nights with greater footfall of customers passionate about excellent wine in a relaxed atmosphere where they can enjoy a fantastic, chilled out evening discussing their recent wine adventures to Lebanon or Lussac-St-Emilion.2. You will quickly engage and open the door to a huge network of people, not just ‘foodies’ but more specifically wine lovers, connoisseurs, members of the press and the wine trade. And they will bring friends!3. Customer satisfaction will naturally improve and in turn the rewards to your restaurant. From a mutual understanding of these new customers’ needs, you will discover that first time visitors will quickly become regulars and loyal clients will easily grow.
1. Let’s be honest; most restaurants’ wine lists cannot satisfy every single wine lovers taste buds. Sure Sommeliers excel at pointing you in the right direction according to your own personal taste and the style of food you are eating but not all bases can be covered at all times.2. Business people working in the city dine out regularly, up to 3 or 4 times a week. As a customer you would relish the chance to dust off a special bottle and treat a visiting colleague or new client to a wine hand-selected from their wine travels that has been lovingly stored in your cellar.3. As a customer you will not be limited to your chosen BYO bottle of course as there is always the restaurants excellent wine menu to compliment your private selection.4. And finally, what a pleasure to celebrate a special occasion by popping open that well-kept bottle that was given you by a dear friend and that you still have not had the chance to open yet!
ETIQUETTE IS KEY
It’s not just about saving money, it is also about sharing your wine and the story behind it. So it comes naturally that there is no need to rub that in: you shall not pick something from a local corner store or worse, arrive with a bottle that is already listed!
PLAN & RESEARCH
First up, try a place you tend to frequent often or if it is your first time, explain how special that bottle feels to you and your personal connection to it. In both cases it is essential to plan ahead and request permission from the restaurant in advance. Obviously it helps to be familiar with their wine list well before the visit so you can select a wine that is unique.
BE GENEROUS & ENGAGING
You love wine and are being kindly allowed to enjoy it away from the comfort of your own home, therefore act as if you were attending a dinner party and share it! You could offer a taste to the Sommelier in order to establish the soundness of the wine and its pairing to a certain dish.
AND FINALLY, REWARD
If you enjoyed a moderate corkage fee the saving can go towards the final gratuity. The Sommelier is treating you with professionality and accuracy as they would with any other customer. Great service should be rewarded!