Bring Your Own Wine To Olive Garden And Save A Ton

It's hard not to love the Olive Garden. It offers a tremendous menu of pasta and of course, there's the breadsticks. It may not be authentic Italian cuisine, but it has rightfully earned a place in American culinary canon. And now there's another reason to love the casual dining chain: you can bring your own wine.

Wine at dinner can be pricey – a glass can cost well over 10 dollars. Bottles often see a markup of 200-300%. That makes buying a bottle with dinner very costly, and buying by the glass isn't much better once you add them up. Olive garden offers a great alternative with its BYOB option. That's right – you can bring your own bottle of wine the next time you go out to the Olive Garden. There's nothing better than sitting down with your favorite vintage while saving a few bucks. The staff at the restaurant will be happy to open and pour your wine, but it may cost a few dollars.

Olive Garden charges a corkage fee

Olive Garden isn't the first restaurant to allow patrons to bring in their own outside wine. It's a fairly common practice but it's not without its drawbacks. Bringing that bottle in isn't free – most restaurants charge what is known as a "corkage fee" to open it for you. Sommelier Sur Lucero spoke about corkage fees in an interview with Insider, saying, "Most fine dining restaurants charge a nominal corkage fee, typically $35 per bottle, to bring your own wine... for that, they will chill or decant as necessary and serve the wine in beautiful glassware." Sometimes, that fee can be pretty steep, costing more than a bottle off the menu.

Olive Garden does charge a corkage fee, but it's not prohibitively steep. To have that waiter open your bottle will only set you back about the cost of an appetizer – the corkage fee at most locations is just $7. For less than a glass of wine, you can have the same experience as having bought a bottle off the menu, without the extra cost or guessing if you'll like it.

Wines to pair with Olive Garden favorites

Now that you know it's okay to bring your own wine to Olive Garden, it's time to consider what bottle to bring. Opting to provide your own means it's up to you to make sure you have a wine that will work with your meal. If you have an idea of what you're going to order, it's pretty easy to do.

If you're eating stuffed pasta like ravioli or stuffed shells, bring along a bold red – Chianti, Pinot Noir, or even Sangiovese make strong choices that will stand up to the flavor in the food. Alfredo based dishes call for something lighter with fruity notes – Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio offer brightness and balance to the creaminess of the Alfredo sauce. And if the star of your show is Olive Garden's breadsticks, there's a pairing for that too: champagne (or another sparkling variety) brings the butter and herbs to life.