One of the great things about Berlin is that, for a Western European capital, it’s surprisingly cheap. Go out drinking with friends and you’ll rarely get a nasty surprise when the check turns up. There are also bars where the check doesn’t turn up at all.
All of this is because Berlin is home to a unique concept in civilized quaffing in the gentrified district of Prenzlauer Berg. Two wine bars, one opposite Zionskirche and one nearby (a third, FraRosa, recently closed down), operate on an honor system. That is, you pay an initial amount of one euro to “hire” a wine glass, then help yourself to an assortment of wines laid out for you, returning as often as you like. At the end of the night you leave money in a large jar. How much? That’s up to you. Obviously the system is open to abuse, but the vast majority are honest enough to pay a fair amount.
The best-known of the three is called Forum, though it’s generally known as Weinerei. This is where it all started. While you won’t be treated to the rarest vintages or the most exotic boutique blends, there is a good selection dominated by German varieties. If you’re clinging to the outmoded idea that German wine is all about sugary whites, this is a perfect opportunity to change your mind. If you want to take a bottle home, it’s sure to be on sale at the wine shop across the road, which is run by the same people and is actually called Weinerei (yes, it’s confusing enough if you’re sober).