Friday, October 7, 2016

In which my German skills are praised & we look like yokels

When K and I visited Bacharach, we had hoped to buy some neuer Wein. It's a fall special, beloved in the Pfalz, and is a sweet and effervescent drink made from fermented grape juice. The time window to buy it is short, as is its shelf life.

We decided to see if we could find some in Bacharach. Even though we were no longer in the Pfalz, we were in the Rheinland, a region of wineries, and even part of the same state, so there had to be some there, right?

When one buys neuer Wein directly from the grower, one can bring her own container. I happened to have a gallon jug in my car that I normally fill with water to take to work. Even though we didn't plan to buy that much wine, the jug would do in a pinch.

We walked through the wine festival downtown but had no luck finding a booth that sold neuer Wein. Giving up, we stopped at a gift shop so I could buy some postcards. In German, I asked the woman how much the cards were. She just about fell over, effusing about how wonderful my German was.

I held the postcards, shocked, then said in German, oh, thank you, but I still have a long way to go. She continued. I then told her I live here. She still gushed. Um, thank you, that is very kind, I told her.

It was definitely hyperbole, as kind as it was. I should be much more fluent and have better pronunciation, especially considering that I've been learning German for five years and practice with native speakers. If I had been a tourist, then yes, my German was darn good. For someone who've lived here almost four years, my progress is very slow.

I finally managed to pay her for the postcards and we moved on. However, finding no neuer Wein sellers, we came back and K asked her in excellent German if the woman knew of somewhere that we could buy it. Of course she mentioned the wine festival but we had no luck there earlier.

Then K held up the gallon jug and was babbling about how we live in the Pfalz and normally one brings a jug and buys the wine from a farmer on the side of the road.

The woman looked a bit horrified. I don't blame her, imagining drinking a whole gallon of neuer Wein. It's sweet as heck and would cause extreme gastrointestinal distress in such quantities. I also think we struck her as a bunch of redneck yokels who drank that thar wine stuff down in da Pfalz and we wanted to get our alky-hol on. Here the city was having a perfectly genteel wine festival where one could buy a glass of wine and it looked as if we wanted to swill it.

Oy vey. All we wanted was a glass or two each and it's cheaper to buy a whole liter than it is to buy a glass of it.

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