Originally created 03/08/06

Corked wine may follow you home



ATLANTA - As the owner of Hilltop Grille restaurant in Athens, Chris Lloyd has poured more expensive wine down the drain than he cares to remember. When customers aren't able to finish a bottle, Mr. Lloyd simply throws it away.

Under Georgia's open-container law, it's illegal to carry the resealed bottle in the car. But if a House bill passes and is signed into law, wine drinkers can cork the bottle up and take it home.

Rep. Bob Smith, R-Watkinsville, introduced House Bill 1436, which allows restaurant patrons to drive home with their unfinished bottle of wine.

Mr. Smith said the bill was a common-sense approach to cutting down on drivers who drink past their legal limit just to finish a bottle of wine.

The bill passed through committee Tuesday, where a lobbyist for the Georgia Restaurant Association spoke on behalf of the bill.

The bill must make it through the Rules Committee next before going to the House floor for a vote.

But Robert Bruso, the executive chef at 17Hundred90 in Savannah, noted that restaurants may run into liability issues with letting customers take home a bottle of wine.

According to the bill, a bottle of wine may only be carried home if purchased with a "full-course meal," including "salad or a vegetable, an entree, beverage and bread." The wine must be re-corked, placed in a closed bag and kept in the trunk or glove compartment of the car. The driver must keep a receipt proving that the wine was recently purchased with dinner.