It’s high-school midterm week here at Casa de Armchair Sommelier . . . and I’m the Spanish tutor. I speak just enough Spanish to get myself into, but not out of trouble. I read Spanish fairly well, but speaking . . . ooof. I speak an ugly Spanish. I always tell Spanish speakers to speak to me like I’m a five year old — then we’re good. I know my Spanish isn’t right, but I can usually get my point across. People get the gist. This is what I keep trying to explain to my boy. Learning a foreign language isn’t really about memorizing endless lists of vocabulary and conjugations (except in high school, where it’s all about that). Foreign language is about the gist. Quit trying to translate everything word for word — just try and make mistakes. People are generally pretty patient (and sometimes entertained) when you make the effort. They’ll forgive you the mistakes. Put the zapato on the other foot. I have a friend from Mexico who routinely slays the English language by saying endearing things like, “I come for the store”. No, it’s not right, but I get the gist.
What does this have to do with Wine, Words & Wednesday?
A few years ago, I was vacationing in Chile with my girlfriend, who is from Chile. Visiting a foreign country with a native speaker is the bonus of all bonuses. You get the insider’s track to food & drink, people, and places. One afternoon, she and I were walking through a tiny craft bazaar in a speck of a town called Algorrobo (home of the world’s largest swimming pool, btw). I got so excited when I saw this sticker — I bought it instantly, and I wasn’t even going to haggle (but my friend said that’s simply not done, so I think I ended up paying something absurd, like 43 cents, for it). I bought it not just because it was about wine, but also because I actually understood 95% of it, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself.
Basically, it means this:
If you came into the world, you came to drink wine.
And if you don’t drink wine, then why the hell did you come?
I had to ask my friend about the cresta part. Cresta is Chilean slang, which is like saying crap. So technically, my sticker says, why the crap did you come? Now that I think about it . . . I like that version even better.
I’m going to pour myself a glass of vino and head back into conjugation Hell. Wish us luck!