By Richard Laming
Published in EUobserver, 25 July 2006
The consumption of alcohol is something that both unites and divides Europe, with important political consequences as we shall see. Alcoholic drinks are part of our culture, but also part of our economy.
Think about all the different national rituals that centre on drinking. Practically the first words you learn in a new language are cheers, prosit, or skål.
In fact, Europeans drink more than people elsewhere. The average European gets through about 9 litres of pure alcohol per year, compared with less than 7 in America or less than 4 in China.
Indeed every country has its own traditional drinks, from whisky to slivovitz, grappa to vodka. And European wines are defined by the region they come from, whereas new world wines are defined by the grapes they are made from. The wine is a product of the very land itself.
But this is where it starts to get difficult.
Read the whole article at 060725EUobserver