The "belts" seems like made up thing, bending the actual facts to fit someone's story.
Or poor Romanians drink very cheap spirits produced by the Prodvinalco company, whose ingredient labels are always good for a laugh.
For example, on a bottle showing a pirate that might lead consumers to expect real rum, one finds in small print "Beverage made from alcohol of agricultural origin with rum flavouring". That is, it’s pure grain alcohol with presumably just an eyedropper’s worth of some kind of rum essence.
At least Romania has more honest labeling.
Their biggest seller though, Original Spiced Gold is according to themselves "a blend of rum and other spirits".
"Other spirits" is an industry euphemism for Grain Neutral Spirits, i.e. industrial alcohol produced using the cheapest base and distilled to 95%, which is something you then buy in bulk. Take a look at these guys, for example: https://ultrapure-usa.com/grain-neutral-spirits-options-sign...
Or take a look at this page: https://ultrapure-usa.com/services-2/spirits-brand-owners/ Want to launch a Gin company? Rum? Whisky? They're experts at white-labeling!
Yes, you have to read between the lines to understand how this works, because none of the large alcohol brands wants consumers to know how their products are actually made, it's all obscured by deceptive labeling.
Also, at the end of the day, ethanol is ethanol. The difference between Captain Morgan's Original Spiced Gold and actual Jamaican rum is like the difference between synthetic diamonds and real diamonds. Yes, both are 100% carbon in a diamond lattice with the exact same refraction index and hardness and properties. They sparkle the same, they look the same, only experts can tell the difference, but a lot of people still care about the difference.
If it’s for mixing with soda or Red Bull with lots of sugar sure the difference might not be noticeable (especially for grain based spirits). But if you drink for example a brandy like Cognac (which is distilled wine) you’ll have a hard time recreating it with artificial flavors.
There is already "cognac flavoring" that can be added to the cheap spirits that I mentioned in my post above. (It is also used for candies.) Few will notice the difference between low-end cognac and the imitation cognac.
You are either wrong about this, or you were served something very unusual. Brandy in Romania is overwhelmingly produced solely from fruit, with no role for wine at all. I have witnessed the production process myself while staying in the countryside.
I saw the fruit orchard and the vineyard.
However, you're missing the point as it relates to this discussion. Fruit brandy made from fruit is like wine, not vodka.
If you want to fight to the death that my girlfriend's parents and great-grandparents are atypical, that's totally fine.
I don't know where your girlfriend's father is from, I'm guessing from behind the iron curtain somewhere based on the comment about the Communists. I'm sure he made good brandy from moscato. However rakija is not made from wine nor does it have anything to do with it culturally from a consumption standpoint.
Agreed. As a Norwegian, I can attest Norway is known for its appreciation of fine spirits like scotch and cognac.
That said, we’re clearly a beer-country. We make beer, we drink beer, we go out for a beer, and when people come over, we ask if they want a beer.
Vodka is only drunk by a smaller niche or Eastern European immigrants.
How we could ever be a “vodka nation” beats me. This looks like fiction.
Edit: I guess the illegal “moonshine” culture in the northern parts of the country could account for “vodkaism”, but that’s not really a striving culture these days, and definitely not mainstream.
The second map where Norway prefer Beer as of 2012 is probably true. I am not quite sure why there are two maps.
Though I agree moonshine was quite prevalent when I was young. Gallons of some dodgy near methanol drink bought of some Russian trawler...
My Norwegian family does seem to drink a lot of Cognac and occasionally some Aquavit.
I would say Norwegian drinking habits are not like other beer countries where they may have 1 or 2 pints a few times a week. It seemed in Norway more like once a month 8 pints or nothing for most... Though they are more cosmopolitan these days.
And they've lumped by country borders, too. Could people grow hops in very southern Norway, perhaps?
The other famous trio are the olive oil/butter/lard belts, which again were fairly clear lines in the west (although obviously things have changed now). Data-points on what fat your grandmother used, in south-eastern europe, anyone?
This is a really good example of bending actual facts to fit someone's story.
Not really. "Fruit brandy" that people traditionally make and drink in this region is made directly from fruit, without the vine step. There is a brand of it that's made from vine called "vinjak", but that's not the traditional drink everyone is drinking here.
You can also make rakia directly from grapes. That's called "loza" and it hasn't got anything to do with vine.
Really there should probably be a fourth belt covering SE Europe, but as these are only used for informal discussion it doesn't really matter.
Someone else also mentioned the 'fruit-based' vs 'potato based' classification and that's all quite valid, but all it does is show that there should be a fourth category of fruit-based hard liquor on that map.
>However, the general definition tends to include the following states as significant producers and consumers of vodka
Hungary doesn't fit that definition, and brandy favoring states would be considered part of the wine belt.
I think such broad generalizations over vast geographical regions are often a bit tainted.
Interesting that alcohol consumption is down ten litres from 2014 to 2016, but that might be because the economy isnt doing too well ; starting with the war in Ukraine.
Hungarians invented the wine/soda combination known as
fröccs and if you feel qualified to name all the various
wine-to-water ratios, then you probably got your degree
in alcohol at a Hungarian pub.
The purpose of adding soda is to make it more refreshing in the Summer and allows to drink more without flipping over.
About the ratios: https://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr%C3%B6ccs is a good list. bor = wine, szódavíz = carbonated water.
Not as in wine good, but on a warn day, soda and cheap wine taste fine. Same as for these moment (when I was young and piss poor), we'd buy "cooking wine" (cheapest shit on the shelf) and mix that one on one with cola. No matter how bad the wine, you can drink it easily and still get the added "benefit" of the alcohol.
While living in the Northern countries, I've seen an emphasis on the alcohol content and getting as drunk as you can, just for the goal of getting drunk. In Southern countries instead, there is more of an appreciation of what are you actually drinking, its taste and history. People still get very drink, but it's a more mellow experience, as they enjoy this dionysian rite.
Did anybody else have the same experience?
But it's changing - now there's an appreciation of the taste of good wines, craft beers and liquors during the week, although still going hardcore during the weekend.
I don't know if it's for the better, but it's changing.
It just tastes better/different
Compare to the Chinese, who have had alcohol for up to 8000 years, and have developed the anti alcohol "asian flush" gene.
It's a rarity to find English, Polish or Danish wine, they exist but are overpriced for what you're getting.
Both beer and spirits are made from grains, which are much easier to grow there as well as easy to import. Thus vodka, whisky, beer.
Although many would disagree, there's way less to appreciate in beer and vodka than it is in wine. Beer doesn't even have distinct recognised regions and for vodka you can't even tell whether it's made from grain, rye or potatoes, unless it's a really bad poorly filtered one.
On the contrary the appreciation culture for whisky is alive and well. In central Europe, lots of home-made spirits from local fruits are made and people like to taste and compare also.
I know that this is an extremely subjective point of opinion, but haven't you met anyone who insists that all wine comes in two flavours, red and white? Do you really think it's fair to group beer with vodka?
> there's way less to appreciate in beer and vodka than it is in wine
I strongly expect that if you tested drinkers' ability to distinguish different types of beers vs. vodka vs. wine, it would become clear that the above statement is patently false.
Does this matter as much for beer as it does for wine? Given that, as far as I understand brewing, most of the flavour comes from the hops used, with some also from the type of yeast and cereal. These can all be transported to some degree before they're brewed together, so a beer's provenance doesn't matter so much as its style and particular ingredients.
Traditional consumption largely follows from soil, and weather, affecting what grows. A less generalized article would be cool, showing cider regions in Germany, France and England as well as wine regions in Germany.
I don't think the generalization to whole countries suits the purported goal of traditional beverages well, nor does the classification of cider as a wine analogue.
That's wine production; is wine consumption also predominantly in the east, or do Austrians drink wine no matter where in the country they live?
Nordic countries would be in the beer belt today, for example.
Light lager and wine is the alcohol we consume recreationally on normal days.
I wonder if there's any research as to why that is.
Finland and Norway are beer, Sweden and Denmark are wine.
I live in southeastern France. Definitely wine country, lots of reasonably priced, good quality wine is produced here. And while wine is still very popular, a lot of younger people now drink beer. For taste, we have a lot of craft beer shops popping off. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, high alcohol beer is replacing red wine as a cheap way of getting drunk. It is a trend I trend to see everywhere I go.
Interestingly, in France, it looks like rosé wine is making a comeback with women.
This can be misleading as many comments state below. For example, Romania is a big wine producer, it's most known for wine, but a lot of that wine goes for export.
For drinking, a one liter of vodka equals four liters of wine in terms of alcohol content. So a country that drinks 1.5x more wine in quantity over vodka isn't necessarily getting drunk on wine, because you may order a couple glasses of 2dl wine but hit 6 vodka shots of 0.5dl each so basically your main drink of the night was spirit even though quantity-wise you consumed more wine.
Often times, in central eastern Europe, you order beer which is half a liter but you get several shots with it.
For preferred alcohol, it's kind of like when you ask people if they prefer theatre to cinema, most will answer theatre even though they'll only go to cinema.
Or ask them if they prefer to read Economist or Buzzfeed. Nobody ever answers Buzzfeed, yet it is one of the most read media in the world.
So ask me if I prefer beer or wine, I'll say wine because I do. But when I go out I'll have a beer because it's cheaper allows me to sit in the pub much longer without getting drunk too fast and everyone else drinks it too.
This is hard to measure. But overall for main countries like Spain, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Russia etc. it's seems to be correct.
The correct way to measure this, in my opinion would be to measure which beverage delivers the most alcohol content for the said population for that will be its preferred alcoholic beverage.
That doesn't necessary mean that heavy drinkers suddenly drink less alcohol (as some vodka-opponents would claim). They just drink longer/faster to ingest the same amount of pure alcohol in the night.
Would a glass of wine at lunch seem odd?
Would a beer with your lunchtime burger seem out of place?
Would a glass or two of vodka between colleagues be quite normal?
In that case, I suspect some countries would be more "prude belt"...
Even though we have a long history of moonshine, especially in the rural areas, we are most def. a beer-drinking country.
If anything, our taste of alcohol is more diverse than ever before, simply because there are more options.
When I grew up, people either drank beer or moonshine, because that's the only things we had available in my small village. Then the (state owned) alcohol store arrived, and moonshine completely disappeared.
I remember the first time I visited Russia, in the 90s, and was set back by the sheer amount of Vodka the Russians drank. Went to a party, and couldn't find a single beer. They were all drinking straight vodka. But IIRC, they've now been "westernized" on that front, and drink much more beer.
>The alcohol belts refer to the traditional beverages of countries rather than what is most commonly drunk by the populace today, as in terms of drinking habits beer has become the most popular alcoholic drink in the whole world, including various parts of the wine and vodka belts.
Seems it was mostly beer and mead:
Interesting that the introduction of a single plant could have such an impact on cultural norms.
For example: I come from Italy. The number of times I’ve heard/read stuff about the supposed benefits of the “Mediterranean diet” being “recognised as far back as the Ancient Romans” and featuring some photograph of a platter involving fish and tomatoes... it just makes me want to flip.
When I saw sliced tomatoes on the table in the film The Gladiator it made me want to walk out of the cinema.
Here in the US I haven't had vodka in years. The US right now has such great beer that drinking any other alcoholic beverage should be illegal. Possibly the very best anywhere in the world. Not even Germany/Austria/England come anywhere close to what you can buy on the US West Coast.
Even in Russia though the attitudes are changing. Anecdotally, meeting with my university friends a year ago we drank only beer, and they said they mostly drink wine (beer in Russia is pretty bad still, although the situation is improving).
German brewers of mass-produced beer still stuck to the requirements of the German beer purity law when elsewhere, such as in the USA, brewers were putting rice and maize into their beer to cut costs.
Germany gets a good reputation because they make a certain type of beer extremely well, like Belgium makes Belgians extremely well.
Alcoholics drink hard spirits or cheap "fruit wine" if they are poor.
Everybody drink vodka (and wine, and beer, but wódka is the tradition) on big occasions like marriage or other big family meetings. But getting wasted isn't cool and very few people drink too much usually.
Young men around here still bond via drinking lethal amounts of vodka. I know of at least one death caused by this.
 The gender imbalance in CS is so severe that I remember bragging to my friends how I was not only acquainted with both of the female students in our year at the Warsaw University of Technology, but also both of the ones that started studying CS in 2010 at the University of Warsaw.
Yeah, that was a tough one to swallow, literally.
My family hails from Lesser Poland and I've never seen vodka on any of the family gatherings - including weddings.
It just doesn't appear to be part of the local culture.
Of course the situation is very different in the eastern and north-eastern regions.
But then again both of my parents (almost) never drank vodka and they have wildly different backgrounds.
The second map doesn't show any "belts", and is showing that the concept of alcohol belts doesn't match actual consumption.
Also, the second map, labeled ”Map of Europe with individual countries grouped by preferred type of alcoholic beverage, based on recorded alcohol per capita (age 15+) consumption (in litres of pure alcohol) in 2010” has Spain labeled “beer”.
Wine usually is more drunk with food, not really as a standalone drink in Spain.
EU never gonna keep me down?