It was only a couple months ago a notice came out from the Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws about trying to change the corkage laws in the state of Maryland. The law will allow you, the consumer, to bring your own bottle of wine to a restaurant with a Maryland Liquor License- you would be charged a corkage fee. Those restaurants without the Maryland liquor license are allowed to let customers bring wine and beer (BYOB) but they must charge a corkage fee.
Interestingly enough, it contained a situation where at Volt Restaurant in Frederick, owned by Top Cheftestant Bryan Voltaggio, allowed the famed and renowned wine expert Robert Parker to bring wines from his wine cellar to pair with Voltaggio’s gourmet dinner. If memory serves me correctly, which it doesn’t at times, Voltaggio was fined $500 plus another fine per bottle opened owned by Mr. Parker. Voltaggio became the celebrity voice to help get this bill passed.
The Restaurant Association of Maryland wanted to poll their membership as to what stand they wanted the association to take. I think you will be surprised at the response. Here is their press release.
(Columbia, Md.) – Based on the results of a statewide survey of our membership, the Restaurant Association of Maryland strongly opposes legislation that would allow restaurant customers to bring their own bottles of wine into licensed restaurants. Survey results show that the majority of our restaurants do not want it and the majority of our customers are not asking for it. The proposed Wine Corkage legislation seems to be more of a solution in search of a problem.
While there is currently little consumer demand for the practice, we believe that the publicity surrounding such a law change would encourage more customers to bring their own bottles. Our member restaurants fear that, as a result, the law change will decrease wine and beverage sales, create confusion about serving control and regulatory compliance, create potential customer relations issues for restaurants that choose to continue prohibiting the practice despite a law change, and lead to future law changes allowing customers to bring in other alcoholic beverages. Moreover, restaurants pay expensive liquor license fees and many believe that Wine Corkage will diminish the value of liquor licenses.
Our membership survey was limited to restaurants with liquor licenses only. Industry opposition to this idea was a lot stronger than we anticipated. Overall, 63 percent of our restaurant members oppose Wine Corkage, 19 percent support it and 13 percent are unsure. The survey results also show little consumer demand for the practice. Nearly 75 percent of respondents say that their customers “never” or “rarely” ask to bring in their own wine. About 23 percent of respondents say that customers ask “occasionally” and only 3 percent say that customers ask “often.“ Moreover, 74 percent of our members say that current Maryland law has not caused them to lose potential customers. Only 9 percent believe that current law drives away potential customers while 17 percent are unsure.
For these reasons, the Restaurant Association of Maryland will oppose all Wine Corkage legislation under consideration this year in the Maryland General Assembly.
What do you think?
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