This is my essay of advice to the non-German.....who arrives in Germany and finds that they've been invited over to a German household or apartment. It might be a neighbor, a client, a co-worker, a customer, a new friend, or some swanky German gal with unknown intentions. This is my list of fifteen things that you might want to know before arriving.
1. Generally upon entering a German residence.....the host will get real peppy about offering up a drink. So get this in your head.....beverage refreshment is priority number one.
2. The age and sex of the host figures into this. If this is a twenty-two year old guy....then don't expect more than five drink options. If it's a 30-year old gal.....you might actually have twenty drink options. If this is a German couple in their fifties.....there's probably thirty to forty drink options.
3. Water. It's a natural tendency in the summer period to go for the water option. But since you are the American....please note....Germans have several options. There's plain old Tafelwasser....bottled water. There is stilles wasser, which typically is spring water or glacier water, without any bubbles or minerals added. Then there's tonic water. Then there's mineral wasser....with a 'taste'. Or, you could ask for tap water.
4. Ice. Typically ice rarely ever gets offered unless it's a really hot day. If they have a fancy ice-maker or a bag of ice in the freezer.....it might be offered. Assume under all cases.....if you aren't offered any....it won't be served with any.
5. Non-alcoholic beer. Twenty years ago....no one kept a supply of it in the house. Today, five-percent of homes will have a couple of these around for certain guests. It tastes like beer but there's no alcohol to it. My advice is to skip it.
6. Saftpresse. This is typically a physical fitness freak host and they've got a juicer machine.....offering to make up some juice of varying quality. You just can't tell if the guy might throw in some carrot or such....and screw up a decent fruity-drink. So you might want to ask questions.
7. Coffee. In the winter period, it's common to offer coffee. You might want to know that Germans tend to make strong coffee. There's the brewed type and the bag type. Usually, Germans offer premium coffee....not the cheap stuff. So you want want to say a word of appreciation after sipping the coffee.
8. Tea. If you go for tea.....and they pull out some fancy British tea gadget.....they are making a fair effort to impress you and it won't be cheap Lipton tea. You need to appreciate it after tasting it.
9. Gluhwine. In the November and December period.....gluhwine is popular. It's got a heck of a lot of sugar and you should limit yourself to two cups max (especially if driving).
10. Cola. In the German market today, I'd take a guess that between colas and energy drinks....there's about 150 options. Most people will keep regular Coke or Pepsi around.....maybe a can of of Sprite, and maybe some odd flavor options. Older folks might even offer up Afri-Cola, which is a drink like Coke. Please note....you won't be offered ice unless you ask for it. The younger crowd might have six to ten soda options in the kitchen.....half of it might not be in the refrigerator or chilled.
11. Cocktails are rarely if ever made up or offered. If the host has fixed up a fancy dinner...they might have gone to some trouble of making a cocktail for everyone as they enter the home.
12. Wine. Wine doesn't get offered unless it's an evening visit. There are various types of wine, and your host might be opening up an awful dry wine.....so just grin and bear it.
13. Beer. German guys always offer beer as a first choice, and they might actually have a stock of a dozen beers in some basement refrigerator. I'd take a guess that two-percent of German guys might even have thirty differing types of beer in the house. Some might be chilled.....some might be basement "cool". Remember that a radical and unusual beer will usually start up a conversation about the taste or aroma.....so you need to actually spin the beer around your taste buds and think of something witty to say. If the setting is on the patio or balcony.....beer might be served from noon onto midnight.
14. Sangria. Spanish wine gets served by the younger crowd and will be in a large container....with bits of fruit added. It's strictly a hot-season drink. Ice will be served with it. Don't expect it in most settings. For someone who has just come back from Spain and a vacation....it'll be a popular drink that they like to serve for a couple of weeks.
15. At the end of the affair....it's wise to compliment the German host on drinks. Limit your alcohol consumption, and don't get stupid-drunk. And remember that in most cases.....they are trying to impress you and be a gracious host. Even if you aren't thirsty.....accept some kind of drink just to get this requirement off their mind