Sunday, November 22, 2015

Germans and Alcohol

One of the dozen-odd things about German society that an American comes to grasp after a couple of months of German living....is that Germans have a fairly open view of alcohol consumption.  For any American southerner to walk in and admit they were from a dry-county, and the German would almost want to treat them as an alien from another planet.

From my local beverage shop in the next village over.....there are around 200 different beers to choose from and at least 200 different stronger beverages (cognac, bourbon, rum, etc).  Wine?  Oh my....he's probably got at least three hundred wines on the shelf (from Germany, Europe, Africa, Australia, and even the US).   Because this is Hessen, he'll even have twenty different apple wines which the locals tend to favor as their sipping choice on hot afternoons.  Here in the approaching Christmas season, there will likely be at least thirty beverages which tend to fit into the heated-beverage routine (gluhwine for example) on the shelf.

Germans being heavy drinkers?   No.  That would not be a fair characteristic to dump on them.  If you went looking around the neighborhood.....out of a hundred adults....you might classify two-percent as serious and heavy drinkers.  The rest would all fit into different categories.

German cooks tend use tons of wine within sauces or stews.    They use cheap stuff (the three-Euro option) and they use the expensive stuff (over fifteen-Euro).  Walk into any German kitchen....open up the refrigerator and there's better than fifty-percent odds that there will be a wine sitting there for cooking purposes.

If you go to a Greek restaurant in Germany.....toward the end of the dinner....the German-Greek waiter will always come up and offer you an Ouzo.....sometimes free of charge.....to help settle your stomach before you leave.

Beer gardens are popular in small villages, towns, and cities across Germany.  From early spring to late fall.....people frequent these....sipping beer and engaged in conversation.

As much as people may falsely think that Germany is a beer nation.....it's more of a multiple selection nation.  There are over 1,200 different breweries in operation in Germany today.  There are reportedly near 70,000 wineries in the nation, and over one-third of them are noted as "professional", while the rest are hobbyists.  Toss in the serious producers of hard alcohol, and you've got a wide variety of choices.

Germans aren't heavy pushers of alcohol.  You could show up at some German house and they'd offer you some refreshments, and you could say mineral water, and they'd bring out the bottle and serve you (minus ice-cubes......don't ever think the cubes will be offered unless you ask for them).  Of course, don't be shocked when your birthday comes up and your co-worker gives you a little bottle of peach cognac or honey-flavored liquor.    If the neighbor invites you over for a birthday garden party deal.....you can expect at least a dozen different offerings of alcohol, along with a couple of sodas or waters.

Acceptance of this open cultural thing?  Well.....yeah, there's not much choice and you kinda have to accept this German attitude.  On the positive side?  This is the interesting part of the story.  If you were talking about five-star beer production.....Germans know how to brew.  If you were talking about five-star wine-production.....Germans know how to grow the grape and age the wine.  If you were talking about cognac....Germans have made cognac production into a science.  Wanting to sit and discuss types of glasses for each single wine, beer or cognac?  There are probably twenty-thousand varieties in Germany today and it would require a four-volume series of books to explain all the details and characteristics.

So, my general advice is that you need an open mind on Germans and alcohol.  They've had several thousand years to reach this stage, and to be honest.....they might know something about the topic.

1 comment:

Patient X said...

Germany, especially the west and south, makes world class white wines. An often overlooked fact!!! You can find some real gems there...