While diners in Washington, D.C. and Virginia are free to bring their own bottle of wine into a licensed restaurant, the practice, known as "corkage," is prohibited in Maryland.
But changes could be on the way. New legislation to allow corkage is scheduled for its first hearing before the Economics Matters Committee in the state House of Delegates Monday, and an identical bill was heard in a state Senate committee last week. The legislation's outlook is much more promising than last year, when proposed corkage bills sank in committees.
There are reasons for a rosy outlook. Unlike in 2011, when corkage would have been introduced in only a handful of counties, the legislation is being considered this session on a statewide basis. And the Maryland Restaurant Association, which opposed the legislation last year, has agreed to take no position this session, which lawmakers are likely to interpret as a green-light.
At least 25 states now allow diners to bring their own wine into licensed establishments, and as more states allow the practice — Virginia's passed its corkage law in 2011 — it puts pressure on neighboring states to loosen restrictions. In Maryland, corkage is currently allowed only in unlicensed, or BYOB, establishments.
House and Senate committees will also be sorting through legislation that would allow multiple restaurant licenses to be held by the same entity, allow guided tours of distilleries with sampling and allow micro-breweries and brewpubs to offer samples and direct distribute its products on a wholesale basis.