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02.22.2008

All You Can Drink Wine Bars? I'm Moving to Germany!

OK. Not really. But Germany now seems to be the dream destination for either those who enjoy an evening with wine, or those with a serious binge drinking problem.

According to a New York Times Travel section piece earlier in the month, an enterprising Berliner named Jurgen Stumpf has opened four wine bars in which patrons rent a glass at a price of one Euro, drink as much wine as they want throughout the evening, and simply pay what they think they owe at the end of the night.

In paranoid and parochial America, this sounds completely insane -- a sort of neo-marxism for oenophiles that relies on the honor system instead of good common capitalist sense. Not to mention the fact that such a system of wine drinking, without the measured gatekeeping of a bartender and standard pours, would throw America's MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) members into fits of outrage. As for the British, who seem so irrational about their own relationship with alcohol that they've started blaming the size of their drinking vessels for the country's binge drinking problems, the shock would no doubt be fatal.

For low budget Berliners, and wine lovers like me, however, this sounds like a hell of a good time. The devilish details, however, are in the wine list, about which the Times article sadly did not comment other than to note that at least half of it was German. The unmentioned other half, presumably, does not contain California Zinfandel.

Of course, steeped as I am in the aforementioned paranoia and parochialism, I definitely think anyone trying this in San Francisco would end the night with their wine jugs empty and only a few dollars in the till. Especially once the homeless population found out about the deal.

I guess when I finally get a chance to take that Germany wine trip, I'll have to make sure to stay a day or two in Berlin.

Thanks to the folks at BoingBoing for the tip on the story.

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