Gänsewein: When you only have a glass of water with your meal, Germans will say you are drinking 'goose wine"

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.



German Is Weird: Crazy Words von Arschkarte bis Zielwasser - from "ass card" to "aiming water"

For more language weirdness, check the brand new “German is weird” book. 

Related Weirdness

German is weird: Fun Facts and Trivia about the German language

This blog is a love letter to the curiosities of the German language that give it its poetic and, at times, oddly humorous qualities.

German Is Weird: Crazy Words von Arschkarte bis Zielwasser - from "ass card" to "aiming water"

The “German Is Weird” book is now available: order here!

Weirdest Articles
Instagram Feed