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Want some dinner with that wine?

OPINION

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September 12, 2012|By Kate Bernot, @kbernot | RedEye

When was the last time you were out for dinner, sharing wine with a few friends over delicious food, only to stand up and realize you were a bit tipsier than you thought? Been there. Done that. Chugged some water in the bathroom. No biggie.

Generally this type of overindulgence happens at a casual BYO—not during a $500 dinner.

Recently my boyfriend and I were out on a date at a special occasion restaurant—one of those rare dinners that involves high heels and strict budgeting for a month to afford it. We sat down around the same time as the table of four next to us, but they were clearly ahead of us in one department: alcohol consumption.

"No. NO. You CANNOT take your wine glass to the bathroom!" one woman practically shouted across the room as her husband attempted to do just that.

Two minutes later, he returned to berate her with a stream of insults that no one—man or woman—should have to sit through.

All of this occurred within the table's first 30 minutes at dinner. Though the wine list was pricey, more bottles were opened and the "conversation" continued to devolve, with everyone—including the wait staff—growing totally uncomfortable.

My friends and I like fun. We really do. We've been known to strike up conversations with other diners, swap beers with nearby tables and ask for their favorite dishes. But context is everything.

If you're at a sports bar and want to high-five your friends across the table after your defensive end breaks through for an epic sack, do it. If you have trouble hopping off your stool after a few too many Belgian beers, I'm right there with you. But if you're at a candlelit restaurant playing with Trivial Pursuit cards at the table and making it hard for other people to concentrate on their special meal out, well ... grow up.

Aretha, back me up—it's about respect. That's respect for the people at your table, respect for the staff who carefully prepared and served this luxurious meal, and respect for the innocent bystanders in the dining room.

But mostly, it's about self-respect. There's a way to let yourself have a good time at dinner without passing out in your dish of creme brulee. If you worked hard and earned a night out, celebrate that. Yes, order wine. Yes, order more wine. No, do not begin to color with your pen on the linen tablecloth.

Because guess what, Captain Cabernet at the table next to me, you're going to pay for it. Not just with a wicked red wine hangover and one mighty pissed off wife, but with a $500 credit card receipt for a dinner you can't even remember.

Oh, and if we ever happen to meet again at a rowdier, more casual venue—you totally owe me a drink.

kbernot@tribune.com

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