Alcoholic drink

A selection of alcoholic drinks: red wine, malt whisky, lager, sparkling wine, lager, cherry liqueur and red wine
A liquor store in the United States. Global sales of alcoholic drinks exceeded $1 trillion in 2018.[1]

An alcoholic drink (or alcoholic beverage) is a drink that contains ethanol, a type of alcohol produced by fermentation of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar. The consumption of alcohol plays an important social role in many cultures. Most countries have laws regulating the production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages.[2] Some countries ban such activities entirely, but alcoholic drinks are legal in most parts of the world. The global alcoholic drink industry exceeded $1 trillion in 2018.[3]

Alcohol is a depressant, which in low doses causes euphoria, reduces anxiety, and improves sociability. In higher doses, it causes drunkenness, stupor, unconsciousness, or death. Long-term use can lead to alcohol abuse, cancer, physical dependence, and alcoholism. Alcohol is one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the world, with about 33% of people being current drinkers.[4] As of 2016, women on average drink 0.7 drinks and males 1.7 drinks a day.[4] In 2015, among Americans, 86% of adults had consumed alcohol at some point, 70% had drunk it in the last year, and 56% in the last month.[5] Alcoholic drinks are typically divided into three classes—beers, wines, and spirits—and typically their alcohol content is between 3% and 50%.

Discovery of late Stone Age jugs suggest that intentionally fermented drinks existed at least as early as the Neolithic period (cir. 10,000 BC).[6] Many animals also consume alcohol when given the opportunity and are affected in much the same way as humans, although humans are the only species known to produce alcoholic drinks intentionally.[7]

Fermented drinks

Wine (left) and beer (right) are served in different glasses.

Beer

Beer is a beverage fermented from grain mash. It is typically made from barley or a blend of several grains and flavored with hops. Most beer is naturally carbonated as part of the fermentation process. If the fermented mash is distilled, then the drink becomes a spirit. In the Andean region, the most common beer is chicha, made from grain or fruits.[8] Beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the world.[9]

Cider

Cider or cyder (ər/ SY-dər) is a fermented alcoholic drink made from any fruit juice; apple juice (traditional and most common), peaches, pears ("Perry" cider) or other fruit. Cider alcohol content varies from 1.2% ABV to 8.5% or more in traditional English ciders. In some regions, cider may be called "apple wine".[10]

Mead

Mead (d/) is an alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops. The alcoholic content of mead may range from about 8% ABV to more than 20%. The defining characteristic of mead is that the majority of the drink's fermentable sugar is derived from honey.

Pulque

Pulque is the Mesoamerican fermented drink made from the "honey water" of maguey cacti. The drink distilled from pulque is tequila or mescal.[11]

Wine

Wine is a fermented beverage produced from grapes and sometimes other fruits. Wine involves a longer fermentation process than beer and a long aging process (months or years), resulting in an alcohol content of 9%–16% ABV.

"Fruit wines" are made from fruits other than grapes, such as plums, cherries, or apples.

Sake is a popular example of "rice wine".

Sparkling wine like French Champagne, Catalan Cava or Italian Prosecco can be made by means of a secondary fermentation.