Restaurant Wine List?

So I’m attending a company dinner next month at a restaurant with a huge wine list. Of course I had to check the menu ahead of time and everything seems quite normal until I stumbled upon a unicorn for 1/3 of the current retail price. This is a wine I’ve always wanted to try, but at the current retail price and having no friends that collect this wine, I can’t see myself trying it anytime soon. So here’s the situation… no one in my group is crazy about wine (like me), and I’m 100% sure our host will be much more reasonable with the wine selection for the evening. Our group is around 20, so I don’t want to be that guy who buys a bottle and doesn’t share (much), especially with non-enthusiasts. Is there is any protocol for purchasing a wine off a wine menu and taking it home? If they allow it, I assume I should still tip? Never been in this situation before, thanks in advance.

Depends on the jurisdiction.

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A tip wouldn’t hurt, but honestly you should start by emailing the restaurant and explaining exactly what you did in the OP.

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I know the laws have shifted (to be even more liberal) around COVID, but I’m not sure the current state of play in LA. Agree that best bet is to call and ask (without necessarily mentioning the exact wine so that doesn’t skew the answer you get).


Drink very little wine during dinner. Let your guests leave. Order the bottle. Share with the somm or anybody else you feel deserves a glass. Take a cab home.


I wouldn’t call ahead and ask if you can buy it and take it home as some have suggested. These kinds of inquiries are best handled in person in my view. Especially given that it may be skirting some laws.

Try going in another day or showing up a few hours ahead of dinner and ordering the bottle by yourself or with another wine loving or curious friend.


I guess we‘re talking about Rayas (or is it some higher end Burgundy)?

It depends on the restaurant, many restaurants know the price gap and they don‘t let you go home with it. So you would have to go back and enjoy it there some other time (in that case I would reserve the bottle). BUT the only time I got lucky was indeed in the US (but not in Europe where I live) as the server had probably no clue about the carefully curated wine list and pricing and just wanted the tip on the extra 400 dollars the wine did cost. You can always try…

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Yep, the Rayas. Thanks for the responses. Here’s my plan, build rapport over dinner with wine director/somm and on the way out pull him/her aside and ask to purchase a bottle, float a benji and let the chips fall where they may…

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Different areas have different legalities. Here in Ontario it was illegal to buy a sealed bottle to take home with you until the pandemic when they changed the law.

I find most restaurants will not sell rare stuff to go, especially if it is significantly under market pricing and tightly allocated (difficult for the restaurant to replace). But some do. I’ve also found many restaurants that offer some selections to go, and other selections not. Sometimes the list will even have a special marking for the wines they will sell to go. None of that stops me from always asking. You never know when a head somm isn’t going to be there and a general manager sells it to you.

Regarding tipping. I’ve tipped in the past on bottles to go, but less than I would if I was dining. But I’ve been told by others who do it a lot, not to tip at all. The justification is they aren’t using any stemware, aren’t pouring, and most importantly they are releasing the risk from them to you that the bottle is faulty. So as a consumer you pay less to go (no tip), but also assume the risk the wine is flawed.

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When I was living in New Orleans (through mid 2019), I had yet to encounter a restaurant that had the ability to sell bottles for off-prem consumption. Granted I only tried at a couple but what I was told was that I could purchase a bottle to take home but they’d have to pop the cork.

Not sure if that’s since changed or if the restaurant in question is willing to do something different, just sharing my prior experience.

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I was recently able to buy a bottle of drastically underpriced (and mis-labeled) 2020 Roumier off the list for takeaway at a steakhouse in Ohio. The manager said it’s perfectly legal there, didn’t bat an eyelash.