Wine to Go

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Call it merlot to go. Starting Friday, if you order a bottle of wine with dinner and don’t finish it, you can take it with you, but there are some concerns the new law could lead to more drunk driving.

Tallahassee restaurant owner Andrew Reiss shows off a pricy bottle of Napa Valley merlot, a wine you might not want waste, and the merlot to go bill will allow you savor the taste.

Andrew says, "Allowing people to take a bottle of wine home that they haven’t finished is right, it seems right, because there’s a lot of responsible drinkers out there who want to just drink a half a bottle or a bottle and a half between four people and be able to take it home with them."

You will only be able to take the bottle with you if you buy an entire meal at the restaurant. The wine will have to be in a sealed bag placed in your locked glove compartment or trunk, or behind the back seat if you don’t have a trunk.

There was very little opposition to the bill, only five lawmakers voted against it, but there was some concern it could actually lead to more drinking and driving.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving did not take a position on the bill because there haven’t been any studies on how it might influence behavior, but spokesman Andy Hindman says there could be problems.

Andy says, “For example, if a person finishes a bottle of wine and knowing that they could take the remainder home, they could be encouraged to purchase an additional bottle.”

MADD will be tracking the law to make sure it doesn’t become another excuse to drink more than you should. Some restaurant owners say they are still unclear about the new law’s requirement that the bottle of wine be placed in a “sealed bag or container.”

The law doesn’t say what kind of bag or container to use. If you reopen the bottle before you get home, you could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.