You may be asking, what are "recorking" or "Merlot to Go" laws and why do they exist?  Recorking, also often referred to as Merlot to Go, are laws that allow restaurants - following proper procedures - to allow a patron to take home an open bottle of wine. By following correct procedures, the open bottle of wine would not be considered an open container.

"Merlot to Go" laws can vary on a state by state basis. The specific requirements and procedures can be different in each state (click our state laws link for the specifics, relevant to your state).

Using a properly designed and state law compliant "Merlot to Go" wine bag is mandatory in many states.  In other states, a compliant bag is highly recommended to offer both the restaurant and the patron a greater level of security.

Two Good Reasons for "Merlot to Go" Laws

Beginning in the early to mid 2000’s, wine take home laws became more and more established in different states.  There were two main reasons for the growth in these laws:

  1. First, there was a concern for personal safety in "drinking and driving" when people felt pressured to finish drinking a bottle of wine they had ordered with their meal, rather than stop because they were satisfied.  By being able to take home the remaining wine in the bottle, "Merlot to Go" became a way to encourage more responsible wine consumption.
  2. Second, Merlot to Go / Wine Take Home laws allowed people to feel more confident buying better quality wine / better bottle of wine with their meal. With the law in place and the establishment following the law, you could take your remaining wine home at the end of the meal. This helped customers and restaurants support the consumption of better quality wine.

A Typical "Merlot to Go" State Law

As an example, here is an example (this happens to be using Florida law).

Florida Statute 564.09 states that a restaurant licensed to sell wine may permit a patron to remove one unsealed bottle of wine provided the following conditions are met: 

  • The patron consumed a portion of the wine with the purchase of a full meal
  • The restaurant securely reseals the bottle
  • The bottle is placed in a bag that is secured in a manner that is visibly apparent if the bag has been opened
  • A dated receipt for the wine and the meal is attached

More Information to Follow

We’ll get more detailed, in separate blog posts, on the values to consumers and/or restaurants, however right "up front" there are a few immediately evident advantages.

  • For consumers, the safety factor of knowing you can consume up to your comfort level, take it home, and drive home safe is a big plus.
  • For operators, it is an opportunity to up sell a bottle generating more profit/revenue while minimizing risking over serving. The key is understanding and adhering to the law and then having a plan to manage it.

 


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Better Wine Experiences At Home

24 Wine Gifts for Wine Lovers Article - Do Better
24 Wine Gifts for Wine Lovers Article - Do Better

by Jim Bartlett June 24, 2021

The Chicago Tribune just published (yet another) list of 24 awesome gifts for any wine lover created by BestReviews. The list of items is all well and good, but I'd like to see them...do more. Read why...
Read More
Vacuum Pumps Suck - by Design and Poor Science
Vacuum Pumps Suck - by Design and Poor Science

by Jim Bartlett May 18, 2021

If you want to preserve the fresh taste of your open bottle of wine for another day, don't suck. Create a 100% argon barrier to stop the oxidation, and place your bottle in a cool and dark place. Just don't trust the "click"...
Read More
Why 100% Argon is Best Wine Preserver for Home
Why 100% Argon is Best Wine Preserver for Home

by Gary Gottfried May 18, 2021

The development of wine preservation over the past 15 years has leaned heavily toward argon as the preferred method for keeping wine fresh. Why? Because science supports it. 100% Argon works based on a combination of chemistry and physics. Read on...

Read More