Sunday, July 20, 2003

You can't bring your own wine


Campbell's scoop

By Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but in Ohio there's no legally sanctioned way to bring your own bottle of wine to a restaurant. A restaurant is a public place, and if it does not have a liquor license, then the patron who opens a bottle and pours a glass is violating the open container law, says Brent Devery, agent in charge of the local Ohio Investigative Unit, part of the state Department of Public Safety.

If the restaurant does have a liquor license, then not only is the patron who brings his or her own wine violating the open container law, but the owner will also be in violation of the liquor license. (Restaurants can only sell alcohol they have bought from a wholesaler.)

There are fancy restaurants, such as Jag's, where people can have their own "wine locker" with their name on it. But that wine is ordered through the restaurant.

This is true in Kentucky, too. You cannot take liquor or wine into an establishment. It's also a misdemeanor in Indiana to take any alcohol into a "place of public entertainment."

That doesn't mean it never happens. You probably have seen people bringing a bottle of wine to a restaurant and handing it to a waiter to open. Some owners allow it, others may even encourage it. Frankly, it's unlikely that you'll hear sirens the minute the cork is popped. But if a restaurant discourages BYOB, they're not just concerned that you're not paying for their wine. They're trying to stay out of trouble. So be considerate.

It doesn't mean you have to pay top dollar for wine, though. Here are a couple of restaurant wine bargains:

• On Wednesdays, Bella Luna, the Italian restaurant in Linwood, sells all its bottles of wine for half price. 4632 Eastern Ave., 871-5862.

• Palomino, downtown, does the same thing on Monday nights. All wine by the glass and by the bottle (everything under $55) is available for half price. 505 Vine St., 381-1300.

E-mail pcampbell@enquirer.com




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