Chilean Spanish uses lots of words borrowed from other languages, especially English, and, not being a purist, I generally have no problem with that—why would I? English is full of “borrowisms.”
But when it comes to “winespeak,” there’s one misused crossover that drives me up the wall. Wine is not, cannot, and never will be “crispy.” And I’ll tell ya why…
Here in Chile you can tell someone you like her new “look” (pronounced luuk), you can go shopping at the “mall” (but call it a moal), and you can send a “fax” (though the ‘a’ must be dragged out to reach fahx). Actually, most of the time it’s pretty handy, because when your Spanish fails, you can just throw in the English equivalent with a slightly Chilenized pronunciation and more often than not you’ll achuntarlo and get your point across.
There are a few usages that bug me though, mostly when the part of speech gets altered, as when the verb/action “shopping” becomes a place and you get invited to “ir al shopping” (literally “go to the shopping”). I’ve learned to control my linguistic shuddering to nearly imperceptible levels, but there is one instance that just plain bugs the heck out of me.
It just drives me up a wall when I hear my wine-tasting colleagues declare a wine to be “crispy.” Sorry, I just can’t look the other way on this one. You simply cannot have a “crispy” wine, and I don’t care what language you’re speaking
In English, “crisp” has several meanings, one of which is fresh, as in a ‘crisp autumn morning.’ Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? And crisp can also be a rather euphemistic way of saying that a wine has pleasing and refreshing acidity (which all wine must have). Somehow, somewhere along the way, many Chilean wine tasters have gotten it into their heads that they like their Sauvignon Blancs “crispy,” but I’m going to play winespeak language cop and explain once and for all why they don’t.
Crisp, crispy, and crunchy are all related terms that can be translated as crujiente or crocante in Spanish, and as far as I can tell are pretty interchangeable, although crujiente seems to be a bit more related to the noise and crocante associated with a texture.
In the English-speaking food world, crisp refers to something that is firm, fresh, and that makes a noise when broken, such as raw vegetables (celery, carrot), crackers, and potato chips.
Crispy is very similar to crisp, but is almost exclusively used for food and never, ever for drinks, because liquid, of course, cannot be broken.
And then there’s crunchy, which tends to be associated with sound, such as that of chewing something that is probably crisp in a thick and chunky sort of way.
Crispy foods are usually thinner and more fragile (quebradizo) than crunchy foods, which are more solid and require more chewing (bread crust, nuts, hard candies, etc.). Crispy foods also make crumbs (migas) when broken… and you certainly wouldn’t want crumbs in your wine!
So, for the record (look at the picture):
- Wine can be crisp, but not crispy or crunchy—unless it were frozen. Crispy things break easily; wine (being liquid) does not.
- Breadsticks and toast are both crispy and crunchy.
- The rock salt under the oyster shells, should you choose to put them between your teeth, would be crunchy.
¿Cachái? OK, so Cheers! And with that, I think I’ll go pour myself a glass of nice, CRISP Sauvignon Blanc!