Want to take the rest of that expensive bottle of wine home with you from a restaurant? If so, you need to understand your state’s recorking law. Before you leave a restaurant with a half-full bottle, you want to be very sure it’s legal. Most states, including Texas, have stiff penalties for having an open container of alcohol in your car. And yes, a recorked bottle of wine is considered an open container. More than 30 states, including Texas, also have something called a “recorking law.” Recorking laws provide for transporting resealed containers of alcoholic beverages in a private vehicle. In Texas, you can take your wine with you as long as you store it in specific areas of the vehicle. The Texas open container law was passed in 2001 (read the full text of the law at www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/77R/billtext/html/HB00005F.htm) and allows you to transport an open bottle of wine (or other alcoholic beverage) so long as the bottle is in a locked glove compartment or in the trunk or, if you don’t have a trunk, in the area behind the rear-most seat. This type of law is good for restaurants in that it makes it easier to sell wine by the bottle rather than by the glass. But perhaps more importantly for public safety, the ability to take an unfinished bottle with you removes any imperative to finish the bottle at the restaurant. Less than 20 states do not have a recorking law. In those states it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle. So when traveling it is a good idea to know the law and beware of accommodating waiters. Big tips are an incentive for waiters to want you to order a bottle, rather than a glass of wine. Therefore you may find waiters willing to accommodate your request to take your open bottle with you, even if it is illegal to do so. Remember it’s you that will be facing the judge, not the waiter. The American Restaurant Associate has produced a document summarizing the recorking laws for all 50 states. You can find this document on the Grape Vine at www.lifeisacabernet.net or at www.restaurant.org/government/state/state_alc_recorking.pdf. My tale of woe occurred on a trip to Santa Fe., N.M. On the way, we decided to spend a couple of days in Albuquerque to visit historic Old Town and to try a couple of restaurants. Albuquerque’s Gruet Steakhouse has a well deserved reputation for its innovative menu and extensive wine list. We ordered a really (really) good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon with our meal. Anticipating that we wouldn’t finish the bottle, we safeguarded the cork so we could recork the bottle and finish it at the hotel. Unbeknown to me, New Mexico is one of those 20 states that do not have a recorking law. And, although the waiter was willing to let us take the wine, the manager was not. Had the manager not stepped in, we would have been allowed to leave the restaurant in violation of New Mexico law. Although I didn’t think so at the time, in retrospect, it was good that the manager stopped us. It turns out that New Mexico has zero tolerance for open containers. Now I check the ARA web site before we travel out of Texas, and then order wine accordingly. - Cellar Notes - Here are three, easy-to-drink red wines that even white-drinkers might like. All are under $20 and all are available at your local H-E-B. Sonoma Red – Blended Red Wine * St. Francis Winery * Sonoma California – 2004 * H-E-B $10 - $15 A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Zinfandel. - Aromas of sweet spicy oak, cherry, red currant and loganberry and spicy fruity flavors. Serve with grilled meats, brown sauces and savory dishes. Solaz – Blended Red Wine * Osborne * Costilla y Leon Spain- 2004 * H-E-B $5 - $10 A blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon - Flavors of ripe raspberry with plenty of fruit and spice and a fine note of oak. Serve with grilled red meats, sautéed chicken and broiled salmon. Malbec – Red Wine * Kono Barú * Mendoza Argentina - 2006 * H-E-B $10 - $15 Flavors of ripe black cherry, vanilla with subtle black pepper spice. Serve with grilled meats. Local oenophile David Dickson has been enjoying, learning and teaching about wine for nearly 30 years. He welcomes questions, comments and suggestions for columns at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit his Web site at www.lifeisacabernet.net.