German word of the day: Die Weinwanderung

Combining the German love of the outdoors with wine, this is a word that's right up our street.

A blackboard shows the German word 'die Weinwanderung'.
A blackboard shows the German word 'die Weinwanderung'. Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

Germany is known as one of the biggest beer brewers in the world, so you may be surprised to find out that the country famous for its beloved Oktoberfest and beer steins actually has a large wine culture, producing around 1.3 billion bottles annually on over 250,000 acres of vineyard. 

So, naturally, Germans combined their love of wine with their love of the outdoors, resulting in seasonal “Weinwanderungen”. A compound noun featured so often in the German language, it is made up of “der Wein”, meaning wine and “die Wanderung” meaning hike, although in this context it could also mean a walk. 

In the early summer and autumn months, wineries across Germany’s Western state of Rhineland-Palatinate organise these so called “wine walks”, with stands spread out over vast vineyards. They often take place over several days on a weekend and follow a specific walking route. The idea is you get to walk from winery to winery and taste all the different locally made wines they have on offer. You may be familiar with pub or bar crawls in your home country, so think of a “Weinwanderung” as a kind of outdoor pub crawl. 

READ ALSO: Meet the man introducing internationals to German wine

If wine isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Food stands selling delicious, regional delicacies such as Bratwurst and Saumagen are enough of an excuse to take part. You can also opt for some fresh grape juice, made from local white or red grapes, typically served as a “Schorle”, that is, juice diluted with sparkling water. Also, if you’re blessed with a sunshine spell, you’ll get to just enjoy the beautiful scenery of Germany’s wine regions.

Plus, if you’re really into hiking, there are some routes that go for several hours, climbing peaks with great views of the Palatinate Forest. Other variations include cycling tours of the vineyards, known in German as “Radwanderungen”. 

I grew up in the heart of the Rhineland, and so these wine walks became a frequent feature of my childhood, as you’ll find families and people of all ages taking part. For born and bred Pfälzer, wine walks are a way of life – tasting and celebrating local food, wine and culture. So, next time you want to have a rest from all the German beers, take a trip to the Rhineland and go on a “Weinwanderung”.


Wenn du deutsches Wein probieren willst, sollst du auf eine Weinwanderung gehen!

If you want to try some German wines, you should go on a wine walk!

Dieses Wochenende soll schönes Wetter sein, also werden wir auf jeden Fall zur Weinwanderung gehen.

We’re meant to have nice weather this weekend, so we will definitely go on the wine walk.

Die Weinwanderung wurde dieses Jahr abgesagt, also kann ich den nächsten kaum erwarten.

The wine walk was cancelled this year, so I can’t wait for the next one.

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Denglisch: The English words that will make you sound German

Denglisch - a hybrid of Deutsch and English - can refer to the half-and-half way Germans and foreigners speak to each other. But Germans use plenty of English words amongst themselves - although they don’t always mean the same thing.

Denglisch: The English words that will make you sound German

English speakers are no stranger to using certain German words when speaking English—schadenfreude and kindergarten being perhaps the most obvious. The process is possibly even more advanced in reverse.

Many Germans are proud of being able to speak English well, and the Berlin Wall’s fall in 1989 only accelerated the process, as a redefined international community – with English as the main global language – beckoned.

Now English words are found in all parts of German life. Many Germans don’t even necessarily understand why. English-language cultural influence is certainly a part of German life, but the dubbing of television shows, to use just one example, remains far more widespread in Germany than in many smaller European countries, which use original audio with subtitles.

Here’s a selection of anglicisms that Germans use with each other. 

READ ALSO: Could Denglisch one day kill of English?

‘Coffee-To-Go’ or ‘Takeaway’

‘Ein Kaffee zum mitnehmen’ is correct and your coffee shop owner will definitely understand what you want if you ask for it. But plenty of Germans will ask for a ‘Coffee-To-Go,’ even when speaking German to a German barista. This seems to only apply to coffee ordered on the move, however. If you’re sitting down at a table, expect to order the German Kaffee.

Getting a coffee-to-go in Berlin.

Getting a Coffee-To-Go in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Human Resources, ‘Soft Skills’ and ‘Manager’

‘Personalabteilung’ is still used to describe a human resources department. But plenty of German companies—whether international or mostly German will use Human Resources even in German-language communication. Although ‘Leiter’ and ‘Leiterin,’ meaning ‘leader’ are used, even German job titles will use “Manager.” The word ‘Manager’ has even been adapted to accommodate German noun genders. A female manager, may be referred to as a ‘Managerin’.

READ ALSO: How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

The world of work in Germany is also notable for importing another contemporary English term. ‘Soft Skills’ is used in German when recruiters are looking to see if a candidate might fit culturally into a particular workplace. The words actually describing these skills, like ‘Führungskompetenz’ or ‘leadership ability,’ often sound unmistakably German though. But there are exceptions. ‘Multitasking’ is used in German as well.

‘Clicken,’ ‘Uploaden,’ ‘Downloaden’ and ‘Home Office’

As technology that came of age relatively recently, German has imported many English terms related to technology and the Internet. While web browsers might use ‘Herunterladen’ instead of ‘download’ or ‘hochladen’ instead of ‘upload,’ Germans are just as likely to use the slightly Germanized version of the English word, hence ‘downloaden’.

READ ALSO: Seven English words Germans get delightfully wrong

Even before ‘Home Office’ appeared on German tax returns, to calculate what credit workers could get from remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic, ‘Home Office’ was still widely used in German to describe, well, working from home. It can be confusing for English speakers, though, especially those from the UK, because the Home Office is a department in the British government. 

English words that have slightly different meanings in German – ‘Shitstorm’ and ‘Public Viewing’

There are English words Germans use that don’t always mean quite the same thing to a native English speaker. An English speaker from the UK or Ireland, for example, might associate a ‘public viewing’ with an open casket funeral. Germans, however, tends to use “public viewing” almost exclusively to mean a large screening, usually of an event, that many people can gather to watch for free. Placing a large television at the Brandenburg Gate for German Football Team matches is perhaps the most immediately recognisable example of a ‘public viewing’.

Then there’s what, at least to native English speakers, might sound outright bizarre. But former Chancellor Angela Merkel herself used “Shitstorm” more than once while in office. In German though, it can refer specifically to a social media backlash involving heated online comments.

Another typical English-sounding word used in German differently is ‘Handy’ – meaning cellphone (well, it does fit in your hand). It can sound a bit strange to English speakers, though. 

Other words, however, more or less mean what you think they do – such as when one German newspaper referred to Brexit as a ‘Clusterfuck’.

READ ALSO: Shitstorm ‘best English gift to German language’