Manitoba has become the sixth province in Canada allowing restaurants to offer customers a bring-your-own-wine service.

The BYOW legislation came into effect on Nov. 1.

It enables people to bring their own, unopened bottle of commercially-made wine into a licensed dining room to have with a meal.

The bottle must be opened and served by staff and customers will be charged a corkage fee. The amount of the fee will be set by the individual restaurants.

"There are often times when patrons want to bring in a special wine or specific vintage to celebrate a significant event, or simply enjoy with their meal," Roman Zubach, acting president and CEO of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), stated in a news release.

"A bring-your-own-wine program recognizes this and provides licensed dining rooms with the flexibility to meet the needs of their customers."

The program is completely voluntary for those restaurants that want to participate. But Scott Jocelyn, who heads the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association, suspects many restaurants will only adopt the policy if forced.

"If that's the make or break on whether [customers are] coming to the restaurant or not, then that's an opportunity that a restaurant may want to consider," he said.

However, MLCC spokeswoman Diana Soroka, believes the new law offers a lot of opportunity for some restaurants.

"We suspect it will be some of the smaller restaurants that maybe don't carry a large inventory of wine, so this is a nice feature that they can provide for their patrons," she said.

The province also recently changed the liquor laws to allow people who order a bottle of wine in a restaurant to cork it and take it with them if they don't finish.

Several liquor act changes

Several additional changes are being made to the province's Liquor Control Act as part of a new hospitality strategy. 

Tuesday is also the first day restaurants can apply for a brew pub license to manufacture their own beer for on-premise consumption and off-sale.

"Brew pubs and microbreweries across North America and Europe have become increasingly popular in recent years," said Zubach.

"Recognizing them in legislation not only promotes economic development within our province, it increases Manitoba’s appeal as a tourist destination."

Also, in an effort to reduce bureaucratic red tape, the MLCC will now be able to issue multi-year liquor licences.

Instead of year-to-year liquor licence renewals, licences will now be issued for a three-year term.

Beer and bread

The province is also taking the first steps in a pilot project that would allow some grocery stores to sell liquor.


The first Liquor Mart Express location in Manitoba is set to open at the Winnipeg James A. Richardson International Airport later this month. ((Janet Stewart/CBC))

The plan calls for boutique-style stores, called Liquor Mart Expresses, to be put into as many as five urban grocery stores.

Premier Greg Selinger said earlier this year that a few stores would serve as test sites for the sale of liquor. The express outlets would only carry certain products, not the full line available in MLCC stores.

A request for proposals is currently out and will close on Nov. 7.

The first Liquor Mart Express location in the province will open at the Winnipeg James A. Richardson International Airport later this month.

Information about the changes to Manitoba’s liquor laws can be found on the MLCC website.