OPPENHEIM — Readers, when I was first in Oppenheim at Hotel Zwo, looking out my window, I saw a black BMW pull into the parking lot. I could see, painted on the hood of the car, the words “Deutsche Weinkonigin.” Now I know about as much German as Young Werther knew Pig Latin, but even I could tell that the words translated as “German Wine Queen.” What the hell? I thought, there’s a German Wine Queen?

Indeed there is, and it’s a tradition that goes back 60 years.

Here’s a picture I took of Marlies Dumbsky, the German Wine Queen for 2008-2009, and that’s exactly how she introduces herself: “Hello, I’m the German Wine Queen.”

Each of the German wine regions elects a queen, and so on until in a national competition, for Wine Queen for the whole country is chosen. It’s not just a beauty contest, though the current holder of the office is obviously attractive. Marlies graduated from the Wine Institute in Geisenheim, and she worked for two years at her parents’ winery in Franken. The German Wine Queen puts her life and studies or whatever other job she has on hold for a year and travels practically every day in the promotion of German wine, even, for Marlies, to Japan and Korea and China, to the United States, and she travels constantly inside Germany and to other European countries.

And — was it because our group was important, prestigious or lucky? Marlies traveled with us for two days, always upbeat and engaging, though journalists tend to be a grumpy and demanding species. (I’m kidding, of course; we were sweethearts.) Many times, during our tastings and discussions, she displayed her knowledge about the intricacies of German and EU wine regulations and about grape-growing and winemaking, even, occasionally, gently correcting the assertions of our official guide.

We were sorry to see her go, but German Wine Queen duties beckoned elsewhere.

Thanks, Marlies, you were a real queen!

And no, she doesn’t wear her tiara all the time. She keeps it in her car for emergencies, such as when a bunch of journalists start whining, “Oh, come on, Marlies, put on your crown!”