Bringing your own wine to a restaurant in Orange County is perfectly acceptable assuming (1) the wine is not offered on the wine list (call ahead if you are uncertain), (2) the wine has some credence and is not a $6.99 supermarket bargain (understandably frowned on by restaurants), and (3) you are willing to pay a corkage to the restaurant for opening the bottle, providing stemware, and pouring the wine, generally ranging from $15 to $25 a bottle. Restaurants understandably rely on wine sales to boost their profitability and they frequently charge two- to two-and-a-half times their wholesale cost (about two-thirds retail cost), and somewhat less on expensive bottles.
A few restaurants waive the corkage assuming rules (1) and (2) are followed. Recent newcomers to the Orange County restaurant scene, Arc in Costa Mesa and Playground in Santa Ana do not charge corkage. The Patina Group restaurants (Pinot Provence, Leatherby’s Café Rouge, and Tangata) have had a long-standing policy of no corkage (private parties and some holidays excluded).
Policies do change and corkage information is not often available online, so call the restaurant in advance if you plan to bring your own wine to enjoy with dinner.
Some restaurants will waive corkage if one bottle of wine is purchased from the restaurant’s wine list. Most restaurants restrict the diner to two bottles of carry-in wine regardless of corkage policy (one exception is Playground where the waitress gleefully told me I could bring in as many bottles as I like).
If you know of any other Orange county restaurants with a no-corkage policy, please comment.