BYOwineclub has begun!

Back in January, I wrote a short post about BYOB and the lack of it in London. Little did I know what a response I would get and what a *ahem* thirst there was for it here in London. Fast forward 6 months and a new club has just been founded here in London to address that very problem of the lack of BYO in our fair city. Now, I have nothing to do with the club other then being a member but I think it’s a great idea who time has finally arrived.

Founders Chris and Khadine Johnson-Rose came up with the idea after they wanted to have a going away party in a nice restaurant drinking their own wines and couldn’t find a place in West London that could accommodate them. They got to thinking and came up with the BYOWineclub. The premise is quite simple. You pay a fee to have access to restaurants that would normally either not offer BYO or charge very high corkage fees. In exchange for your yearly membership fee, the restaurants will either charge little or no corkage fee. Most of the fees range from £5 – £15 pounds.

Baltic bar

So far they have signed up a number of great London restaurants, including Baltic, Boisdales of Bishopsgate, Club Gascon, Arbutus, Hix, Aubergine, Tom Aikens and Apsleys at the Lanesborough to name check a couple of them. There are a few restrictions but my favourite has to be from Cafe Anglais who stipulate that you cannot bring more then one bottle per person! While it is true I had my last birthday dinner there and we did BYO, I ‘m pretty sure I’m not the reason for that rule 🙂 More and more restaurants are being added all the time, so be sure to check their website to see if your favourite restaurant is part of the club. As an added bonus, BYOWineclub has teamed up with the wine merchant, Nicholas, and they will be running special promotions in conjunction with the BYOWineclub.


I went along to one of their inaugural dinners at the Baltic with the wines matched by Nicolas. Colin Thorne, manager of the Mayfair Nicolas picked out the wines for us and they were quite good matches, considering he wasn’t able to try the food before making his wine recommendations.

Colin paired a 2008 rouge Menetou Salon, Domaine Chatenoy with the beetroot soup and smoked salmon. 100% pinot noir, light and very cherry-ish with a nice dash of acidity. It worked with both dishes but in completely different ways. With the beetroot it brought out the earthiness or the beetrooy-ness of the soup but with the salmon, the wine was highlighted, the cherry and red fruit notes really standing out. I like red Loire wines and this one was no exception.

goose leg

The main of roast goose leg was paired with a Cahors, the 2008 Clos la Coutale. I do prefer malbec from France. Although the goose was a bit salty, the wine was still able to overcome that shortfall, medium bodied, excellent tannic structure to hang all the blackberry and blueberry fruit on but not too much that my teeth were in danger of wearing a fur coat.  I enjoyed this wine both on it’s own and with the goose.

decadent cake

Our last wine was a 2004 Tokaji Aszu, Disznoko. I love tokaji but this one was only 4 puttonyos and was just not big enough to stand up to the rich chocolate hazelnut cake we had for dessert. I think it’s nutty notes and slight marmalade flavours would have been better with biscotti or a dessert that was less rich. Or maybe some cheese? A delicious wine but on this occasion just not up to the job.


I have to hand it to Colin though, he did a great job given the limitations of not being able to try the food beforehand. I enjoyed the inaugural dinner of BYOWineclub and am looking forward to using my card. Check out their website for all the terms and conditions and also how to join in on all the fun. A big thanks to my fabulous hosts, Chris and Khadine Johnson-Rose, they really made the evening!


  1. A BYO Wine Club! What a great idea. They’ve recently started to do BYO in most restos here in l’il ol Nova Scotia (it only recently became legal (!)) but there are still a few who won’t or, or who charge crazy corkage fees. A club is a fab idea – tho prob works better in larger centre like London where there are more options for eating-out.

    • I certainly hope that it does take off. We’ve had BYO in the States for years, even the best restaurants will let you do it if you call in advance. I know that BYOwineclub is working on adding as many restaurants as they can. Maybe you should mention to the hold-outs in NS that even the poshest restaurants in London now let you do BYO without the outrageous corkage fees! Best of luck on that 😀

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.