QUESTION: We’re planning a trip to Spain, and hope to visit several tapas bars while in Barcelona. Only one problem: It has been a long time since I took Spanish in school. Are there any “key words” you could give us that will help in ordering good wines to go with the tapas?
ANSWER: The greatest challenge in Barcelona is that you’ll encounter two languages: Spanish and Catalan. Indeed, it’s common all over the city to see the flags of Spain and Catalonia flying side by side, especially atop government buildings. At individual homes, it’s usually one flag or the other, as most residents identify themselves as either Spanish or Catalunyan.
Nobody has more expertise in dealing with European language barriers than Rick Steves, the PBS travel host and travel guidebook author.
From “Rick Steves’ Barcelona,” we’ve selected a few terms that should help. In each case, we begin with the Spanish terminology, followed by Catalan in parentheses.
Wine — vino (vi).
Red — rojo (negre).
White — blanco (blanc).
Dry — seco (sec).
Sweet — dulce (dolc).
Full-bodied — mucho cuerpo (molt cos).
A glass of nicely aged, quality wine — un crianza (un crianca).
There is one type of wine drink in Barcelona for which the languages converge. Whether in Spanish or Catalan, a red wine with lemonade (similar to Sangria) is referred to as tinto de verano.
One more thing: Have a great time, and don’t let the language barrier stress you out. At many tapas bars in Barcelona, you’ll find at least one person who speaks pretty good English.