The bill specifies that establishments holding private club liquor licenses would be permitted to send a patron home with a partially full, properly packaged bottle of wine. The bill is considered a corrective measure to address businesses that were overlooked in the existing law, which has allowed restaurants and hotels to reseal and transport unfinished bottles since 2006.
When diners in Massachusetts restaurants or hotels order wine with their meal, they’re able to take the unfinished bottle home with them, after it is recorked and sealed in a plastic bag. The same option might not be available to those who eat instead at a private club, tavern or veterans club, a discrepancy that would end under a bill advanced by the House last week, the Fitchburg, Mass., Sentinel & Enterprise reported.
Filed by Rep. Thomas Golden, the bill specifies that establishments holding tavern, private club, or war veterans organization liquor licenses would also be permitted to send a patron home with a partially full, properly packaged bottle of wine, the Sentinel & Enterprise reported.
“We don’t want anybody to have to finish the bottle,” said Golden. “I think people may feel obliged to do so, because of occasionally what the bottle of wine costs.”
Golden has filed the recorking bill in previous sessions and described it as a corrective measure addressing establishments overlooked in the existing law. In place since 2006, the regulations allowing the resealing and transporting of unfinished wine bottles refer only to restaurants and hotels, which are issued their licenses under section 12 of the state’s liquor law, the Sentinel & Enterprise reported.
“The Harvard Club, or your various golf clubs around, the Brookline Country Club—any private golf course doesn’t technically have a Section 12 license,” said Steve Clark, government affairs director at the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. “They have a club license, so this would just allow them to do it.”
Clark and Golden both said there can be a public-safety interest in allowing unfinished wine to be brought home, possibly preventing diners, reluctant to let their half-full bottle go to waste, from drinking more than they should before getting behind the wheel, the Sentinel & Enterprise reported.
“You’re basically forcing the customer to finish their drink” if recorking isn’t an option, Clark said.
Golden’s bill emerged from the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure on December 3 and earned initial approval in the House a week later. If the bill gets a second, favorable vote from the House, it would next go to the Senate for consideration, the Sentinel & Enterprise reported.
A similar bill filed by Golden last session was returned to the committee for further study. No action was taken on the version of the legislation filed in 2011 after it received initial House approval, the Sentinel & Enterprise reported.
“I think it’s just a timing thing,” Golden said of the measure’s lack of success in the past. “I don’t think anyone’s against it.”