The ‘droit de bouchon’ is a French expression that can be translated in English as ‘corkage’ that is used to designate a charge usually levied in a restaurant for each bottle of wine brought and consumed on the premise.

Given that customers could bring their own wines restaurant owners needed a reliable method to compute the total amount to be charged during large festivities. Therefore, the owners were asking to recover all the corks of the bottles. Then they were counting them to calculate the final price by multiplying by the number of bottles consumed. This practice began in the 18th century in France where caterers specializing in weddings were also, often, wine merchants. The money thus recovered through this practice was used to compensate for the loss of earnings for the restaurateur and to pay for the service. There is a considerable variation in the amount charged and in the acceptance of this practice.

The ’droit de bouchon’ is sometimes related to the ‘BYO’ practice when it comes to bringing outside wine to a given premise (see BYO for more).

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