Literally: “goose wine” / meaning: water you are drinking with your meal
A fine dinner without alcohol? Even in the age of Healthy Living, this is hardly thinkable for many Germans. People from the Federal Republic tend to consider a glass of beer or wine an essential part of the meal. And if that’s not possible—for example, because you still have to drive or you’re still of kindergarten age—then there’s at least some Gänsewein for you.
This is a popular German term for a glass of water, especially when it is consumed at a set table. The expression is downright ancient. It was first documented in a book by the early New High German poet Johann Fischart, published around 1577, in which he described water as “the wine given to the geese by God.” Other countries, however, are no less creative: in Italy, for example, the term “fountain wine” has become established (“vino di fonte”). The French like to speak of “Château la Pompe.” And visitors to British pubs may have heard the expression “Adam’s Ale” from time to time.
If you’ve ever had to suffer through a lukewarm Sweet Stout or Brown Ale on the island, you might reach for the tap water next time for good reason.