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I've seen the following sentence:

Wenn du heute Abend nach Hause kommst, trinken wir einen Sekt auf deine Beförderung.

Why is it that Sekt has an article einen even though we cannot really count it? Would we also say trinken wir einen Wein or trinken wir ein Bier?

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    This also exists in English (though only with beer, as far as I know): “Let’s have a beer.” – Wrzlprmft Sep 22 '14 at 19:55
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    "Give me a whiskey! No, make it two!" – Robert Sep 22 '14 at 21:53
  • How 'bout a champagne? Or is the a inappropiate? – user6191 Sep 23 '14 at 9:13
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We can count glasses or bottles of a drink and often there are special glasses for different drinks. A champagne glass has often the same shape and size (about 100 ml). Therefore "ein Sekt" is fairly precise describing the quantity. Drinking one beer could be a bottle or a glass of beer in quite different sizes. And when we say "Lass uns ein Bier trinken" it is not necessarily limited to one beer :-)

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Yes, you could as well say "wir trinken einen Wein / ein Bier / einen Schnaps ...", and in a restaurant you could order "ein Wasser" or "einen Saft".

All these drinks come in glasses or bottles that you could count. When there is no need to mention the kind of container and the exact quantity in it (because it doesn't matter, is clear from the context or fixed on the menu) you can omit it and simply say the number. Usually, and in particular in a situation like the one you are describing, you say "ein", because that's the number you are starting with. It doesn't necessarily mean that it cannot become more ;-)

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  • Note that with zwei, drei etc. the drink remains singular morphologically, i.e. zwei Wasser, drei Saft, vier Bier, fünf Sekt, sieben Wein. Interestingly, most units do not mark their plural either, e.g. ein Meter, zwei Meter, but eine Meile, zwei Meilen. – Crissov Sep 23 '14 at 9:24

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