Five Fantastic Places to Bring Your Own Wine

Take advantage of corkage policies and start living your best life

Take advantage of corkage policies and start living your best life

For all the excitement that abounded six years ago when the B.C. government finally allowed us to bring our own wine to restaurants, it seems that Vancouverites haven’t made much of the opportunity. Maybe that’s because we have a raft of great wine lists in the city, or because we fear the judgemental glance a sommelier might give to the bottle you’ve brought. But, really, if you’re bringing wine to wine-focused restaurants, you’re kinda missing the point. My suggestion? Bring a bottle to one of the countless spots that offer killer food but have wine lists that don’t range far beyond Barefoot. To get you started, here are five fantastic local spots and the bottles to bring for each.    

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, $5 Corkage

Wine and hot pot might not seem like an obvious duo. A constantly changing, bubbling pot of spicy broth is the perfect beer — or tea — drinking food. But if you feel like a change for your next journey into the communal braise, Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot has a shockingly reasonable corkage fee ($5). Bring along a bottle Louis-Antoine Luyt’s ‘Pipeno Blanco’ a skin-contact muscat from Chile. It’s got a touch of tannin and a lively acidity, perfect for a meal with as many varied flavours as hot pot. And it comes in a one litre bottle, so you won’t run out by your fourth round of food. ($36.43, 1.0L, at Marquis Wine Cellars) (Photo: Courtesy Kayleen Elcich, Flickr)

Ukrainian Village, $10 Corkage

Cabbage rolls and perogies, schnitzel and chicken kiev, herrings and cream, HERRINGS AND CREAM! Okay, maybe my love of Eastern-European food is a little over the top, but nothing beats ending the day in the blissed out state only lard and carbs can bring. In a vague attempt at following the ‘grows together goes together’ rule, Samuel Tinon’s dry ‘Birtok’ Furmint from Tokaj in Hungary might be the ideal accompaniment. Crisp, refreshing, and mineral, this wine from a Frenchman working in Hungary’s most famous region will cut through all that lovely richness in the food. ($40.99 at BCL)

Phnom Penh, $15 Corkage

There are few dishes as innately satisfying in Vancouver as the chicken wings and butter beef they serve at Phnom Penh. Chinatown’s Cambodian standby has earned its daily lines out the door by providing consistently delicious and exciting food. Match all that spice and cilantro with a bottle of Zweigelt from Austria’s biodynamic darlings Meinklang. This medium-bodied red that brings fresh berry fruit flavours with some vegetal astringency and just a touch of funk. ($33.99 at Liberty Wine Merchants, Commercial Drive, DISCLOSURE: I work here)  Jang Mo Jib Korean, $18 CorkageKorean might be the perfect drinking food. Something about the small plates of spicy, tart, fermented appetizers, and the punchy, salty main dishes makes Korean restaurants among the finest places to imbibe.While soju or beer might be the classic beverage options, a red wine with some lift and spice does a remarkably fine job next to bulgogi and bibimbap. The Synchromesh Cachola Family Vineyards cabernet franc from just outside Oliver will definitely hold up. ($29.99 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar)

Congee Noodle House, $10 Corkage

Char siu pork and South African chenin was one of my revelations of the past year. It happened at Congee Noodle House late one night over fabulous food at Main and Broadway’s classic Cantonese eatery. The BBQ pork with noodle comes with a soup broth so satisfying, I still dream of it to this day. Normally a white might get overwhelmed by this kind of sweet and spicy food. Badenhorst’s Secaturs chenin blanc, though, comes from old bush vines and will stand up to Chinese BBQ with power to spare. ($31.99 at Marquis Wine Cellars)