Saturday, 23 January 2010

Wine, thistles, snails and soil

On a package tour to Austria a few years back I went on a day trip to Südtirol, the part of Tirol that the Treaty of London transferred to Italy after WWI. It was strange being in Italy zet finding most people spoke German. The trip included a visit to a Weinberg. The owner spoke German and the travel rep translated as most of our party had no German. I remember laughing uproariously at some of the Weinsprüche (proverbs and sayings about wine). His his final offering had the travel rep blushing - she didn't translate it either.

As well as Weinsprüche there are Weinbauernregeln - traditional and proverbial sayings about vine cultivation. These give more or less reliable prognoses about the expected vintage or present age-old experiences as proverbs or rhyming epigrams.

Vines need light to thrive.
Blüht der Stock in vollem Licht,
große Beeren er verspricht.
I think the next expresses the same idea as thistles grow well when there's plenty of sun.

Blüht die Distel reich und voll,
ein guter Herbst dir werden soll.

The healthiest grapes offer the best nourishment for snails so in Switzerland they say:

I guess if you were expressing that in standard German you'd have to say something like: Im schönsten Weinberg gedeihen die meisten Schnecken. In English I would use comparatives rather than superlatives: The better the vineyard, the more the snails flourish - which reminds me of the pattern often found in German using je ..., desto ...

Vines need a loose, well aerated soil and plenty of dung applied before the ground freezes in Winter.

Dreimal gehackt,
und der Wein schmackt.

Räbbauer, führ dyn Mischt, vor's Jahr ummen ischt!

Obviously another from Switzerland: Grape-grower, spread your muck before the year's end. Or in German: Rebbauer, fahre deinen Mist, bevor das Jahr zu Ende geht!

There are also lots of Weinbauernregeln (Winzerregeln is an alternative word) related to the calendar (Kalendarsprüche). I think I'll save them for another post.

If you have some sayings about wine, grapes or anything do share them by leaving a comment.

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