We ate at a popular local restaurant last night, one that probably falls into the “casual/fine dining” category. The place is well-designed and comfortable, a little clubby; there are white table-cloths and napkins; the menu is varied and fairly expensive; the wine list is good; waiters wear pin-striped shirts and white aprons. Our waiter annoyed the crap out of me by consistently addressing our table as “guys,” as in “Are you guys ready to order?” and “Do you guys need anything?” This locution was particularly annoying because our table consisted on one man (me) and five women; I mean, we weren’t a bunch of guys scarfing down Bud Lite and chicken wings in a sports bar. Restaurant owners and managers! Remember that waiters and the manner in which they relate to patrons help set the tone for the establishment!

Anyway, what I really wanted to mention though was this: I brought two bottles of wine to the restaurant, first checking online to be sure they weren’t on the wine list. These were the Morgan Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007, Santa Lucia Highlands, and a Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, Alexander Valley. When I take wine to a restaurant, I always buy a bottle or two from the list, in this case a bottle of the Fritz Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Russian River Valley, and a glass of the King Estate Pinot Gris 2008, Oregon. We only drank the Morgan Pinot Noir, so I set the Silver Oak aside.

Now, here’s the kicker; I promise that after decades of dining out and frequently taking wine to restaurants, I had never heard this. When the waiter brought the check, he said, “I only charged you one corkage fee since we didn’t open the other bottle.”

Say wha’? Was I supposed to feel special that we didn’t get charged corkage for a bottle of wine that wasn’t opened? Come on, the corkage fee doesn’t start the moment you walk in the door with the bottle; it’s the opening of the bottle that results in the fee.

I mean it wasn’t a big deal, but it was startling.