Excuses for Stopping in at the Bodega for a Glass of Wine – Guest Blogger John Scheck

Guest blogger John Scheck is getting significantly Spanish…

bodega bar, valencia

Whether it’s called a bar, a bodega, a cevercería, a tasca, or a café, every Spanish city has one or two on every block. If there are 1,000 places to grab a glass of wine or a beer in every Spanish city then you’ll need at least 1,000 excuses to visit. I’m the cautious type so I have more excuses than are legally required in Spain. Here are just a few.

-The bodega is right next to the bin where you drop off your recyclable plastics. I drop off my bag of recyclables and I stop in for a glass of wine; it’s called multi-tasking. I also recycle glass and paper separately. The bodega is also near the trash bin so this excuse counts as four (plastic, paper, glass, garbage) which is really multi-tasking. I could take all of my trash out at once but where’s the fun in that?

-I run out of wine at home so I stop in for a quick glass before I go to the supermarket to buy another bottle. This may sound redundant to you but I see things differently since I moved here.

-My cable TV is out in the apartment and Valencia CF is playing. This probably means that the cable isn’t working at the bar either but that’s a chance I’m willing to take.

-The café is an integral part in the quotidian life of the Spanish people and I need to be there to experience it. While I’m there I’ll need to drink a glass of wine or I’ll look like a tourist.

-The bodega is right on the corner so at least I won’t drink and drive. I don’t have a car but still. There are other consequences of drinking far from home. What if I got tipsy somewhere across town and then used the wrong metro card on the way home? I could waste a three-zone fare card on a one-zone ride. Also, friends don’t let friends take cabs drunk. Trying to explain to a cab driver where I live my labyrinthine neighborhood would be a chore for someone who is both sober and completely fluent in Spanish—two things I will probably never be at the same time, not any time soon at least.

-I don’t want to bore you with a lot of details concerning balance of payments, international currency fluctuations, and other macroeconomic insights that you wouldn’t understand anyway, but just trust me on this one: America and Spain are both counting on me to prop up our mutual reliance on free trade. Excuse me, I have to get back to work now.

-I hate to use the excuse that the bodega is between the metro stop and my front door because there is a bodega between everything and my front door. I’m surprised that there isn’t a bodega in the lobby of my building or on the elevator. I live on the fifth floor, how long am I supposed to go without a glass of wine? I promise that I will only use this excuse as a last resort.

-The bar is a good place to practice Spanish. I can also speak Spanish at the market, or the library, or museums, or at home with friends, or just about anywhere. This is Spain and they speak Spanish here (at least when they aren’t speaking Valenciano, or Catalan, or Basque, or Gallego like in the movie I saw recently). I think there is something that you aren’t fully grasping here and it’s kind of important. I can get a glass of wine at the bodega. Seeing that this is Spain, they probably serve wine at the library; I just don’t know where to ask.

When not drinking wine at the bodega, John Scheck can be found drinking wine at www.mediterraneanexile.blogspot.com – Check it out!

19 thoughts on “Excuses for Stopping in at the Bodega for a Glass of Wine – Guest Blogger John Scheck

  1. Tom

    Nice post. Just out of interest: do they call bars bodegas in Valencia? I’ve never heard of that usage for the word ‘bodega’ before (at least, not in Spain).

  2. David

    Hi all, very nice read John. Definitely going to drop in to a bar for some alcohol on my way home from work today. Tom, bars are not usually called bodegas here in Valencia (at least between my friends). Una tasca is perhaps more typical? Anyway, let´s not lose the point of the blog. Wine = good. Spanish wine (generally) = great!

  3. leftbanker AKA John

    To Tom, David, and all,

    Ben asked me the same thing when I submitted this. I actually wrote this piece while sitting in my favorite bar in my old neighborhood, a place called Bodega Ibérica and an old-school bar. There are quite a few places called bodegas here in Valencia that are proper bars and hardly sell wine at all (except to Anmerican expats). There are also plenty of proper bodegas (wine merchants) in my hood that have a bar for tasting. The funny thing about Valencia is that folks here usually only drink wine with meals, unlike other parts of Spain where it is a common bebida. They make good wine here so I don’t understand why they prefer beer over wine (the beer isn’t so good). ¡Salud!

  4. Parubin

    Yes very good post.
    Regarding the ‘Bodega’-issue. In Spanish a ‘Bodega’ can be a ‘winery’ were wine is produced and a certaing type of establishments that mainly sell wine and food and it is usually traditionally decorated (rustic wood, etc.). I wouldn´t call the picture above a ‘bodega’ as it is a regular bar or cafeteria : although they will certainly have wine, it lacks the rustic old feel of a bodega.
    I believe the word ‘bodega’ appeals more the English-speaking, because it sounds very Spanish and it even is used in the US to define a cornershop, but I have to agree with the people pointing out that the usage of that word in Spain is not as wide and common as the post suggests.

  5. MrMark

    It’s quite common to see in many parts of Spain, someone amble into the bar at say 10am and ask for a “blanco” (white wine). Wasn’t there a time when wine actually cost less than bottled water? I enjoy the odd tipple myself when on holiday – a glass of Rueda or Ribera (with a free tapa) goes down very well on an evening stroll.

  6. Randolf

    10a.m.? Try 8 and how about a glass of brandy? Even so , there’s a lot less drunkeness in Spain than back in Engalnd, less desperation in thje drinking at least.

  7. marina villatoro

    all those reasons sound like great excuses. i like that you recycle and then get wine! I would love to have all those reasons to stop off and drink too. but we’re limited on fun spots like that and my recycling plant is actually near the neighborhood track, so i go for a run instead:)
    ironically, in costa rica and central america, bodega means storage place.
    The Travel Expert(a) and an Expat with a Twist

  8. simon

    Marina Villatoro has hit the ‘bodega issue’ proverbial ‘nail on the head’. Our builders used to refer to any storage place, shop, bar, you name it as a bodega. Lets not be precious about it.
    Nice post by the way.
    Nature calls so I’m off to the bodega.

  9. Tom

    Yes, the cultural relevance of consuming alcohol is completely different here. Here, it is simply a nice ‘beverage’ (though I loathe that word); and for many an essential accompaniment for food. In England, alcohol often has one primary purpose: getting blotto.

    The two attitudes naturally intersect, and it can be difficult throwing off the northern urge to imbibe to drunkenness. That said, living in Spain has taught me, among many other things, the joy of drinking a bit simply because a glass of wine or beer goes better with a sandwich or bit of tortilla than a coca-cola ever would.

    BTW re: ‘bodega’ – thanks to all for the clarification. I too have heard the word to describe pretty much any enclosed place though I’m pretty sure it’s normally used for ‘store’, ‘cellar’ or ‘winery’ when I hear it used around here.

  10. Erik R.

    Very nice. I would protest to using italics for the word “café”, as you are using the English meaning. You mean cafetería.

    I’m off to the local bar for a cosechero.

  11. gary

    @ Tom – how true, its Thursday night and, as those of you who know me personally will know, I have a regular night out with a longstanding drinking buddy. We shall, no doubt drink a cultuarally acceptable 3/4 to 7/8ths of a gallon of bitter before transport arrives to take us home – as I explain to the doctor I have my 20 units a week mainly on a Thursday. We are not rowdy nor do we stumble all over… we just have a few beers and set the world to rights.
    Strangely, the urge to drink like this never effects me in Spain – whilst in Benidorm last week I happily sat for a couple of hours over a long G&T… when in Rome I suppose?

  12. Matt

    So do you have an equally compelling list of excuses for you beer drinking excursions in Valencia?

  13. RayTibbitts

    This is definitely something that I see as being a part of “typical Spain” that will always be there. No matter how much the modern technology, the urbanized real estate, and the birthrate of foreigners change the face of the culture, I can’t imagine Spain being Spain with it. In fact not just despite the changes, but even perhaps because of all the change, there has to be these places that anyone can come to for refuge in the face of change.

    Does it still count if they offer free wifi, though?

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