Kingston’s BYOW Scene (Yep, we have one!)

By Michelle McShane

I don’t know about you, but for me, part of dining out is enjoying a nice glass (or bottle!) of wine.
Mostly because at home, it’s never the “right” temperature, and I seem to be a terrible housekeeper; my glasses (all from IKEA) are never sparkling clean. Although I fancy myself as a wine connoisseur (I like wine), I confess that I am often not familiar with the wines on the list, and don’t always want to experiment with new wines at restaurant pricing.
There is a bottle of wine on our wine rack now (OK, the shelf where we keep our wine) that was given to us by a friend over a year ago. She picked it up a vineyard across the country. You can’t get it here. We’ve been saving it. For a special occasion. Or maybe a special meal. We’ve also been saving it as we don’t want to “ruin” it by drinking it on a Tuesday with take out pizza.  So, maybe we should pack it into a fancy bag, and head out to one of Kingston’s many fine restaurants that will allow us to bring our own wine!


Pizza, pasta, wine. Yes please! Although boasting a lengthy wine list (I stopped counting at 30), Atomica Pizza & Wine Bar does on a weekly basis see customers bring in their own special bottle, often for anniversary and birthday dinners. They recommend you hand over your precious bottle immediately upon arrival. If it needs chilling, they will do that before they serve it to you, and your bottle will get the same service that a bottle off their own menu would get… excellent wine service!
Corkage fee: $15
71 Brock Street
Downtown Kingston

Saber’s Taste of India

Owner Saber Afzal invites you to add a little spice to your life. This unassuming little spot in a west end strip mall is a delightful little find! Saber believes that everyone has their own favourite wine, and he invites his customers to bring their own in – and 60% do!
You can always order take out and enjoy your meal at home, but I urge you to pack your favourite wine (maybe a nice chilled Sandbanks Gewurztraminer) and enjoy it at the restaurant, where you can order a family style meal sharing the dishes around the table.  Cooking is Saber’s passion, and not charging a corkage fee is his way of saying “Thank you for coming in and enjoying my food.”
Corkage fee: None
2786 Princess Street
West End Kingston

Days on Front

With 40 wines under $40, one might wonder why you would want to tote your own bottle when heading out to dine at this contemporary west end restaurant.
Perhaps your palette is more refined, or maybe you simply like your choice better that what they have listed. When bringing your own wine to Days on Front, be sure to hand it over as soon as you arrive. Let your server know if you would like it decanted or chilled. And if you don’t finish the bottle (who are these kinds of people?), they will re-cork it for you for the journey home. No stranger to the food scene in Kingston, chef Jay Legere will offer you a meal featuring local ingredients worthy of that special bottle you brought along.
Corkage Fee $18
730 Front Road
West End Kingston


Wine just goes with Italian food. It’s basically math. And it’s even better on a Tuesday night with live jazz at Olivea.
Personally, I love the antipasti boards with locally sourced bites available here. Few patrons pack their own wine to this lovely spot across from Market Square, and owner Stev George muses that nobody knows that they can. So, if you have a fine bottle and you don’t have the time nor the cooking skills to match it, rest assured that Stev and his team will look after you.
Corkage fee $15
39 Brock Street
Downtown Kingston

Bella Bistro

Another little west end gem, Bella Bistro serves up locally sourced foods, house baked bread and local craft beers alongside a selection of Ontario and international wines. A great (and busy!) spot for lunch, pizza is a popular choice (Monday night is pizza night, buy one get one half price – so try the Bella Pizza) and a perfect companion for that fancy bottle of Merlot you have sitting at home.  I would advise making reservations, as their parking lot always seems to be full! Bring the whole family out, because they also have a great kids menu.
Corkage fee $15
4050 Bath Road
West End Kingston

Be it the wine you proposed with, the vintage bottle you inherited, or that expensive bottle your splurged on and are afraid to “ruin” it and head over to one of these great, locally owned Kingston restaurants.
A few tips and etiquette to follow when you BYOW:

  • Check the wine list first! Do not bring a bottle that the restaurant serves.
  • Don’t bring a “cheap” wine, BYOW is not about saving a few bucks, do not insult the restaurant with your favourite $8 wine.
  • Maybe leave the paper LCBO bag at home, simply carry the bottle in or slip it into a nice bag!
  • Tip the way you would if you had ordered wine off the menu.