Corkage is coming. Beginning July 1, Maryland joins some 25 other states where diners may bring their own bottles of wine into licensed establishments.
Restaurants can choose whether or not to allow the practice, known as corkage, but must have a permit to do so. Restaurants that choose to allow corkage can determine what, if any, fee they levy on diners. They can charge, really, whatever they want, and diners are free to shop around as they like.
That fee is known as a corkage fee. And a no-fee policy is typically promoted by restaurants as "corkage-free" dining. A restaurant may, for instance, promote "corkage-fee" dining on weeknights to lure in wine lovers.
So, when I tell you that you have only until Wednesday at 2 p.m. to bid on "corkage-free" dinners at places like Clementine, Volt, Wit & Wisdom, Waterfront Kitchen and Gertrude's, I mean that you're bidding on both a dinner and the right to bring in your own wine without being charged a corkage fee.
The permits are administered by the individual counties. So, maybe don't expect every restaurant to have corkage up and running July 1. Also, the law does not permit a customer to bring in a wine that's for sale on the license-holder's wine list.