A bill making its way through the Florida legislature would allow restaurant patrons to take home unfinished bottles of wine, even if they eat nothing.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg has filed legislation to eliminate part of the “Merlot to go” law, a Florida statute, which requires patrons to eat a full course meal, including “a salad or vegetable, entree, a beverage, and bread,” before they take their unfinished wine bottles home. Appetizers, sandwiches and fried fish baskets do not count.
The “Merlot to go” law, also referred to as the “Wine Doggy Bag” law, was enacted in Florida in 2005 in an effort to curb drunk driving and boost wine sales. Supporters say the law encourages people to order a full bottle of wine compared to just a glass or two and that it helps diners stop drinking at an appropriate time.
Brandes’ bill would still require restauranteurs to recork and pack partly consumed bottles in a sealed bag. The bag must then be locked in a glove compartment or truck or placed in “the area behind the last upright seat” of a vehicle without a trunk.
The bill is is awaiting action by the full Senate, the full house and the governor.