Using 'velim' is more polite. In French you would say 'je voudrais' instead of 'je veux'. In German 'ich möchte gern' instead of 'ich will'. You can say 'volo' in Latin, but that is very direct and impolite. The coniunctivus is a polite way of saying that you want something.
I think she's a Latin teacher.
[The Latin language uses three moods by changing the form of the infinitive: indicative, imperative, and subjunctive. The most common is indicative, which is used to make a simple statement of fact; the others are more expressive.
The indicative mood is for stating facts, as in: "He is sleepy."
The imperative mood is for issuing commands, as in: "Go to sleep."
The subjunctive mood is for uncertainty, often expressing as a wish, desire, doubt or hope as in: "I wish I were sleepy."]
Reading that, I think Duolingo's sentence may be perfectly right.
But one wonders when this "politeness" came into the language; it seems to be post-classical. The 'wish' use of the pres. subj. is for things you'd wish to happen: Utinam pluat, if only it would rain! (vs. pres. indic pluit, it's raining; fut indic pluet, it will rain).
But the wishes are usually of the formula, "I wish [that] you would do (something)", and not "I wish BREAD / WINE", etc.
So you could say Velim hoc mihi faciās, "I (would) wish that you do this for me." There are examples of that in ancient comedy, according to the Oxford Latin Dictionary; and there's a good example in a poem of Catullus (velim Caeciliō, papȳre, dīcās, "O papyrus, I could wish that you would say to Caecilius...", in which velim functions like a 'polite imperative').
In other words, the velim here introduces a subordinate clause (with its own subjunctive, [ut] dīcās), not an accusative like "bread" or "wine."
It's good to learn the optative subjunctive for attainable wishes, PERCE_NEIGE, often with utinam, so it's not a huge problem. However, it's not clear that classical Latin used the optative subjunctive in day-to-day life at a taberna or in the market to request something. Maybe, but the evidence is not strong. We do have evidence for some of the ways Romans actually requested something, and the evidence includes the present indicative, imperative, and various expressions such as quaero. Some Romance languages use the subjunctive to make polite requests, but we cannot assume that Romans did so without providing the evidence.
Honest doubt: is "vinum rubrum" the actual form Romans used to call this kind or wine or is it rather a translation of "red wine"? I ask that because I don't know how Latin speakers of the ancient Rome used to call that wine but I do know that not all Romance languages call this kind of wine "red": in Spanish it is "tinto", i. e. 'coloured', in Catalan it is "negre", so 'black', and maybe there are other exceptions. French and Italian do use "red wine" (vin rouge, vino rosso). As for Romanian, I don't know. Thanks!
I suppose it's just a translation from English.
The adj. ruber, rubra, rubrum gets applied to flames, the setting sun, and the painted statues of the fertility-god Priapus (examples from Lewis & Short); thus it's probably not the dark color associated with 'red' wine.
The wine I've ever seen mentioned in poetry is called by its name of origin: there's the famous Falernian wine, there's Massic wine, and so forth. (Falernum, Massicum--neuter place-name adjectives in agreement with the understood noun vinum.)
This sentence is anachronistic to Classical Latin. Romans designated wine by area such as Falernian. Another problem is the verb. Here's a link: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/33837764 I was curious to see how DL Latin would attend to the stages of the Latin language. So far it blends stages. [Addendum: thanks for the note about the consul. If people are interested in trying wine from clay amphorae, COS out of Sicily is worth it: http://www.cosvittoria.it/ART/2013/05.pdf]
Homer called the sea 'wine coloured'. We all know that the sea does not have the colour of a pinot grigio, merlot or sauvignon blanc. In ancient times people had a different perspective on colours than nowadays. Here's an interesting article on colours: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/what-is-blue-and-how-do-we-see-color-2015-2
Wow, what are all of you people doing here??? Most of you are discussing this sentence and pulling it apart, like it was a quote from Virgil, or Cicero. It's a 3 lesson beginners course. With 650 words. I maxed it out months ago, and no I still can't speak, read, or write Latin. But I love reading the Classics. And thank you for a most interesting read. I just wish could understand half what all of you teachers and scholars were writing about. It's obviously far more advanced than anything offered in this course. But I'd love to hear from you if anyone knows of any other online Latin courses. Just about had my fill of "Angry drunken parrots," and "My daughters and your son's sleep." Or my favorite, "The woman has a wife." I've taken a few language classes over the years, but I've never seen anything like this before in an academic school book.
The most important issues here, which do come up in this itty bitty sentence, are whether the Romans had a polite "Would you like?" different from "Do you want?"; and whether the Romans called the wine that we call "red" wine "rubrum."
Or have these features of modern languages been grafted onto Latin with no justification?
Those seem like really important questions to me! Even weighty ones, for a teacher of beginning languages. (Unless it's not important what the beginner learns and is given as a model--I can't for a moment agree with that.)
Yes, both words are descended from Latin ruber, rubra, rubrum , "red."
Rubric is particularly interesting: red-letter writing on documents (to highlight the important words), which has become a term for "the rules/regulations" according to which one will be judged or graded.