Drinking alcoholic beverages is a highly celebrated part of social gatherings in most parts of the world. Highly valued throughout history, it has been accepted as a medium of exchange, where it is used to pay toll, rent or debts. Alcohol was also often portrayed as a gift to deities and was closely associated with their worship.
The discovery of Stone Age beer jugs has proven that beverages were fermented at least as early as 10,000 BC, and the production of alcohol continues in most cultures of the world. It is very popular, with beer being the third most popular drink in the international market, next to tea and water.
Alcoholic beverages have also been an important source of nutrients and calories. Many alcoholic beverages contain high levels of protein, fat and carbohydrates, because the levels of amino acids and vitamins increase during fermentation. This explains the frequent lack of nutritional deficiencies in some populations whose diets are generally poor.
Studies show that the moderate consumption of alcohol is preferable to abstinence, as it reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis, among many other diseases and conditions. It has been a major pain killer that helped alleviate the suffering of many people. It has also provided relief from the fatigue, hence its importance in world history. Few establishments would have been built without the discovery of alcohol.
Non-alcoholic beverages such as coffee and tea were not introduced into Europe until the 17th century, and it wasn’t until another century before they were consumed on a daily basis. People who lived before those periods were limited to alcohol for leisurely drinking. Even in negligible amounts present in cocktail drinks, it can serve as a social lubricant, can provide entertainment and can enhance the flavors of food.
Alcohol has lasted throughout ages, existing longer than all of human memory. It has pacified wars, and has outlasted generations. Ancient writers rarely wrote about water, but revered wine and alcohol as a gift from the heavens.