Man and alcohol have kept a close relation along history, and it is even safe to say that they influenced each other. In fact, alcohol is such an important part of man’s life that it shaped the course of history, and in some cases dictated it precisely. Almost everywhere in the world you will go and study a culture, you will find in that culture the tradition of preparing alcoholic drinks and using them for social events and not only.
Studies and archaeological discoveries have shown that mankind was preoccupied with preparing fermented beverages as early as 10,000 BC, perhaps even earlier. What the scientists managed to discover were actual beer jugs from the Stone Age. In China for example, archaeological digging made in a neolithic village in the Henan province brought to surface pottery jars which, upon chemical analysis, proved to have remnants of alcoholic drinks in their walls. The drink they had been used to carry was supposedly made out of rice, fruit and honey, and it was at least 9,000 years old.
There are many such instances throughout the world and throughout history, and numerous cultures managed to create unique alcoholic drinks based on the fruits or fermenting products that were available in their regions. For the Chinese, rice was an obvious solution, and they used it in all their cuisine. Today, we know the traditional drink there is Sake, made from fermented rice. Asia offers other proof of mankind’s relationship with alcohol through the ancient Hindu ayurvedic texts. As early as that, the scholars of the time were studying and writing about the effects of alcohol, mentioning both the health benefits and the unpleasant consequences of drinking.
The Sumerian and Egyptian cultures had the same interests in alcohol, and they both mention the medicinal properties of alcoholic drinks. One very interesting fact is that there is one passage in the Hebrew Bible where people are encouraged to offer drinks to those who are either depressed or about to die; this is to help them forget about their sorrow and give them strength. Europe is not exempt from this list, and it had a pretty tight connection with alcohol as well. The Greeks prepared and consumed wine, and they considered it suitable even for breakfast meals; the subsequent Roman culture adopted this habit and no self-respecting Roman citizen would exclude wine from their diet.
Beer, one of the most common alcoholic drinks, seems to have maintained its status over the years; during the Middle Ages it was already considered everyone’s drink, so both aristocrats and the common people had access to it and consumed it. There are even documents attesting that nuns in a monastery had their own daily beer ratio. When the Americas were finally discovered, the continentals discovered that the local populations had already developed their own fermented beverages as well, similar to wine and beer.
It isn’t difficult to see that alcohol plays an important role in people’s lives; and before we go thinking that it’s just an abuse of resources or an unnatural attraction, even animals consume alcohol from time to time. Many species of animals have been observed in nature, consuming fermented fruits and indulging in the euphoria caused by them. That being said, it looks like alcohol will always be here and it will always be a part of who we are. Perhaps we still have a lot to learn about how to approach it and what our attitude towards it should be, but what is certain is that it will never go away.