Last weekend I was having dinner with friends at home. The six of us had already polished off the duck breasts and were drinking the last of the Chambolle-Musigny when my friend Sonya asked if we wanted to see something funny on her iPhone.
I don’t know what I was expecting. A puppy sleeping with a teddy bear? A particularly riveting unboxing video?
Wrong. She wanted us to dictate the name of the wine we were drinking into her iPhone. (To do that, press the microphone at the bottom left of the keyboard.) Before we started she changed the keyboard (and phone) to French by tapping the globe symbol until the space bar read “espace.”
We passed the phone around the table, each of us saying Chambolle-Musigny and watching as the phone translated it as gibberish — until we got to the one native French speaker at the table. The phone understood his rendition of the name perfectly.
All of us speak pretty good French and are familiar with French wine names. But no matter how we cleared our throats, or repeated the name after the Frenchman, we couldn't do any better. The results got sillier and sillier. I began to suspect Siri had an evil twin inside there just playing with our minds.
We laughed so hard we had tears streaming down our faces — until the phone came around to the Frenchman and he aced it — again.
Want to see a few of our hapless efforts? “Charbon le cuisinier.” “Charbounouze nuit.” See what I mean? Humiliating.
We switched to Gevrey-Chambertin. Just as disastrous: “J’aimerais Chabotin,” “Je veux shabbat,” “J’ai appelé Chabotin”.
The native speaker, of course, racked up a perfect score.
Attempts at Nuits-Saint-Georges and Aloxe-Corton brought similarly disastrous -- and hysterical — results.
I don’t know whether my ego can brave another session of "Pronounce That French Wine.”
Maybe if I practiced? In my closet.
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