I've found a new favorite thing about Germany. When we first got here it was the bike culture, then it was all the Turkish influence (read: food), then it was finally learning some German, and then it was enjoying the city in its transition from freezing wasteland to beautiful spring cityscape, sans bulky winter parka. But now, my friends, I have discovered a new favorite thing about this country. It's not their beer and it's not their cuckoo clocks (although those are both pretty great). My favorite thing about this country at the moment is the German spritzer or Schorle. A Schorle is made simply by adding carbonated water to whatever you want. I say simply but in reality bubble water here is not simple. There are a zillion brands to choose from and options for how strong you want the carbonation. Would you like "mild" or "medium" or "classic" bubble water? Also, there are several ways to say the term sparkling water in German: Sprudelwasser, Wasser mit Kohlensäure, Prickeln Wasser, Wasser mit Gas, and lastly, the silliest sounding version, Blubberte Wasser. I've never actually heard anyone say that last one but I trust my sources. The tap water in Berlin is full of calcium and is very hard— and tastes pretty horrible—so I can understand why bottled water is so popular here. And, as a Blubberte Wasser-loving-country, the Germans like to mix it with everything. Apple juice? Yes, they love that here and it's called an Apfelsaftschorle or Apfelschorle.
The Rhubarbschorle is another popular one (made with rhubarb, of course) and I'm sure an Orangeschorle is an option as well, although I haven't tried it. The grown-up beverage to enjoy in this Schorle-fashion is clearly Weißwein or white wine, usually Riesling. You can enjoy a Weißweinschorle at nicer restaurants and bars as well as in pubs, or Kneipen, on the corner. As I continue to embrace all things German, I've become quite a big fan of the Schorle, especially with the glorious weather we've been having lately. It's spring and you have a few hours to enjoy a beverage on the terrace but it's early in the day and you have things to do later. What should you drink? Eine Weißweinschorle! It's warm and you're laying next to the lake and reading a book. What should you drink? Weißweinschorle! You just got home from work and you're craving a glass of watered-down champagne. What should you drink? Weißweinschorle! You need to stay hydrated while you exercise in the sun. What should you drink? Probably just water and not Weißweinschorle!
Perhaps I sound a bit like I've enjoyed far too many of these but I guess my point is that they're light and refreshing, very low in alcohol, and very, very German. I think the Schorle phenomenon is an interesting part of the culture here, one that I didn't know about or anticipate. To my surprise, it turns out the Germans aren't always so serious and orderly but can be fun and playful and like to put a little sparkle in their juice! I'm really enjoying being surprised by these kinds of things, the small differences in the culture that you can't anticipate or know about a place until you live there. Learning these little things stokes my curiosity but also makes me feel more comfortable here. It's like I'm slowly getting to know the idiosyncrasies of a new friend, an eight-hundred-year-old friend named Berlin. So I implore you to enjoy a Schorle for yourself this spring and I will too, at least until I discover the next fascinating cultural phenomenon Germany has in store for me.