The “Wine Wednesday” experience just got a bit sweeter — or drier — thanks to a new state law that went into effect last week.
The law enables wine drinkers across the state to bring their own wine into restaurants with liquor licenses, provided that the restaurant allows it and the customer pays a corkage fee, which usually starts at $15 to $20.
Adriane De Ceuninck, vice president of marketing and communications for the Michigan Restaurant Association, said the law is a mixed bag for restaurants, providing the benefit of improving the customer experience but also forcing owners to track wine brought in by customers.
“In general, we think it’s a good option for restaurants,” De Ceuninck said. “We’re pleased that they have the choice — that they can either allow this in their business or choose to not participate.”
De Ceuninck added that though the MRA didn’t yet have a concrete sense of who would be participating, the law had garnered a great deal of interest among restaurants in the state.
Locally, Ann Arbor restaurant owners had generally positive responses to the law.
MANI Osteria and Bar, a popular downtown restaurant equipped with a full bar, said Wednesday they will allow customers to bring in their own wine for the time being, provided that it is wine that the restaurant doesn’t already serve.
Additionally, all wine brought in will be subject to a corkage fee.
Roger Hewitt, owner of Red Hawk Bar & Grill downtown, said the restaurant hasn’t made a decision yet but will likely follow a similar path.
“If it allows our customers a greater selection than we’re able to offer, I think that’s great,” Hewitt said.
He added that the only factor holding the restaurant back from opting into the law was the added responsibility that comes with it.
“It’s one additional thing you have to monitor to make sure you’re in compliance with the law, and your customers are in compliance with the law, so there’s potential exposure, and you know, bureaucracy,” Hewitt said.
Right now, the restaurant is planning to charge about $15 for the corkage fee, he said.
LSA senior Louise Colo said she thinks that wine is popular for students in certain settings, but not necessarily in those that the law addresses, so it’s unlikely students’ habits will be changed.
“I think it’s more something that you’d drink at home,” Colo said. “It depends on where you’re going out to. Like going out to a restaurant to eat, if you’re 21 or over, a lot of people like to order it with meals. But as far as just drinking wine goes, and buying a bottle, I’d say it’s more of an at-home thing.”