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New Law in Michigan – We Can Bring Wine Into Restaurants!

Wine laws are getting a make-over here in Michigan!

Just a couple years ago, our legislators passed a law that allows us customers to re-cork unfinished bottles of wine, and bring them home. (That’s smart, as it encourages people to consume in moderation and bring the rest home.)

With that law, I thought Michigan had really come of age.  I didn’t realize we had another law on its way.  Read on.

The other day, I was inundated with emails and Facebook messages from friends sharing the breaking news here in Michigan, that a new law allows customers to bring their own bottles of wine into bars and restaurants.


I love this idea, because I subscribe to several wine of the month clubs, and I enjoy sharing the excellent selections that my wine clubs send me — and I really love the idea that I’ll be able to do so at a bar or restaurant. (Read Eric’s recent post about BYOB “bring your own bottle”.)

Historically, here in Michigan, bringing wine into a restaurant without a liquor license is not new. As I understand it, a restaurant with no liquor license may (in certain localities) allow their patrons to bring in their own beer or wine. There is one such restaurant in Ferndale, Michigan that serves amazing food and allows us to bring in our own wine, with no corking fee, provided they do not touch or serve the wine. This place is called Christine's and I highly recommend it if you’re ever in town. But again, they have no liquor license; thus, if you want wine at all, you must bring your own.

This new law is different.  It allows us to bring our own bottle of wine into a bar or restaurant that has a liquor license, and presumably already sells wine.  Bringing your own bottle of wine into a bar or restaurant (with a liquor license) is a new concept here in Michigan.  

One of my favorite restaurants is Bricks of Northville. They have an excellent wine menu and I’ve always loved the wines they serve. I reached out to their owner, Mike Subu, and asked for his thoughts on this new law.  He told me,

“I welcome the new law, which is completely up to the owner/operator to make this decision such as myself. Although, the law will potentially decrease my wine sales, it’s a nice option for customers that are having special occasions/events and desire a specific high-end wine or champagne that we do not offer. This law is good for both consumers and my establishments because it will potentially bring new customers in that have been holding on to that “special bottle” for their special occasion or event. However, that being said, Brick’s will be charging a $30 “corkage fee” for the establishment to recuperate some of the losses incurred by bringing in that special bottle for customers. Going forward I hope that this law will has a positive effect on my establishment, the customer and the Michigan restaurant & bar industry.”

Now, there are some obvious issues with bringing your own wine into a restaurant. First, you need to verify they allow it. If they do, what are the rules and fees? Do they charge a corking fee per bottle? (This fee would make up for their lost revenue if you chose to bring a bottle instead of buying from them.) Also, do they prohibit you from bringing in wines that they stock? Furthermore, as this article implies, don't be a cheapskate with your server when you bring in your own bottle.  (Always tip as though you bought the bottle at the restaurant, at the retail price.) 

This new law is exciting news for us wine lovers in Michigan! I sure hope to have a chance to try it out with wines that I have from my favorite wine clubs, like Plonk Wine Club, CA Wine Club and Gold Medal Wine Club.

Want to ship wine to yourself or as a gift to a resident of Michigan? First you'll need to do a quick bit of homework. Don't worry, we've done the heavy lifting, as we have a page of our Top Wine Clubs that Ship to Michigan (the page includes a full list of all wine clubs that ship to MI, too) – so it's a great resource!


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