Written by attorney Douglas Brooks Rohan

Take home that open bottle of wine, legally!

During the season of holiday parties, it is quite common for an employer to host an event at a local restaurant. Or perhaps, as an escape from the present buying season, you take a night off with your lovely spouse for a quiet “kids-free" dinner. No, not a “kids-eat-free" dinner at IHOP, but a classic date night at a fine restaurant. After perusing the wine list, you settle on your favorite Cabernet, even if the retail price is a little higher than what your are used to. For one reason or another, you complete your meal and find that you are just not able to finish off that bottle of wine. Maybe the babysitter called and requested an early end to the night, or after reading my November article on DUIs, you decide it would be imprudent to have “just one more". But, alas, you don’t want to cast away that last glass or two remaining in the bottle…

Not to fear, the Georgia State legislature has come to your rescue. Under OCGA 3-6-4, you are allowed to ask your waiter or waitress (is server the new politically correct term?) to re-cork your bottle for you. So long as you heed a few minor and common sense rule, you are free to take that bottle of wine home and finish it at your leisure. The few minor rules include the following:

1) the bottle must be resealed in the restaurant, preferably with the original cork,

2) the bottle must be placed in a bag which would show evidence if it was subsequently tampered with. For example, a paper bag that was stapled shut across the top. If you tried to open it on your way home, the paper bag would tear where it was stapled,

3) keep a copy of the dated receipt with you for the drive home, preferably stapled to the same paper bag containing the wine bottle,

4) for the ride home, the bottle should be out of reach of the driver, preferably in the trunk or behind the last upright seat, if the vehicle does not have a trunk.

So feel free to spoil yourself with that nice bottle of wine you have been eyeing all year, even if you are not accustomed to finishing the whole bottle in one sitting. You know you can always (safely and legally) take it with you when you go home and enjoy it later.

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