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It’s Vancouver’s dirty little secret: Wine in restaurants can be just a wee bit on the pricy side.

But oenophiles in Vancouver have their own secret weapon: BYOB.  For the last two years, wine drinkers have been able to bring their own bottles to select area restaurants and pay a special “corkage” fee for the right to drink it on premises.

Before you head to your next dinner reservation with your favourite vintage, however, keep in mind that these corkage fees also tend to be rather high, generally in the $20-$30 range.  In other words, in many cases it costs as much to bring your own bottle as to buy one off the restaurant’s wine list.

But there are some important exceptions.  Several restaurants across the city – well known to budget wine aficionados – have either set their corkage fees extremely low or offer discounted rates on certain nights of the week.

There are even websites dedicated to hunting down and posting Vancouver’s best corkage deals.  BC Corkage Fees and Vancouver Foodster both offer comprehensive lists, with dozens of restaurants in Vancouver and beyond.  Meanwhile, the website Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver lists restaurants with super low corkage fees, from $15 all the way down to $0. (Unfortunately, it’s not clear how up-to-date any of these sites are.)

Recently, Globe and Mail restaurant writer Alexandra Gill even dedicated an entire column to showcasing Vancouver’s best corkage deals.

In no particular order, here are 5 corkage deals you won’t want to miss in Vancouver, compiled from these different resources:

  • Thai House Restaurant Group (Urban Thai, Thai House, Pink Elephant Thai) – $12: Thai food may not be the most traditional cuisine to savour with a glass of wine, but these restaurants make it an enticing proposition with their budget corkage fees.
  • Wallflower – $15 (free on Tuesdays): This eclectic “modern diner” on Main Street is a hidden haven for wine lovers (max two bottles per table; one bottle on Tuesdays).
  • Fleuri Restaurant in the Sutton Place – free (read fine print): For budget oenophiles seeking a fine dining experience, check out Fleuri, where the corkage fee is waived when you purchase a bottle of wine from the adjacent Sutton Wine Merchant. For all other bottles, the fee is $25.
  • Vera’s Burgers – $2: “Burger and wine” may not have the same ring to it as “burger and a beer,” but the price is right at this Vancouver franchise.
  • Pidgin – $1 on Sunday and Monday: One of Vancouver’s hottest new restaurants (and one of the Top 10 in Canada last year, according to enRoute Magazine), Pidgin lures in wine lovers with its off-night specials. The fee is $30 all other nights.
  • Photo credit: alexbrn | Flickr

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