World Drinking Trivia in Western & Non-Western Cultures

When we travel, we’re often surprised at how people in other cultures do things. For example, their eating, drinking, and other life styles can be quite different. Here we look at world drinking trivia.

World Drinking Trivia

I. Non-Western Cultures

Chicha is an alcohol beverage that people have made for thousands of years in Central and South America. The process begins with people chewing grain and spitting it into a vat. An enzyme in saliva helps change starch in the grain to sugar, which then ferments.1

A young Tiriki man of Kenya wants to marry a woman. Then he offers her beer. If she then spits some of it into his mouth, she accepts.2  Hmmmmm…..What do you say we just live together?

When a king among the Bagonda people of Uganda dies, he leaves several widows. They have the great honor of drinking the beer used to clean his entrails.3

When two Chagga men of Tanzania want to become blood brothers, they share a drink of beer mixed with their blood and saliva.4

The Chagga people also have an interesting belief. It’s that a liar will be poisoned after drinking beer mixed with the blood of a recently sacrificed goat.5

The Abipone people of Paraguay consider non-drinkers to be “cowardly, degenerate and stupid.”6

     Grandpa’s Ashes?

world drinking triviaThe Uape Indians live in the upper Amazon region of Brazil. They cremate their dead. Then they add their own unique twist to the practice. They mix the ashes of the deceased with with casiri, the local alcohol beverage. Then all members of the deceased’s family, young and old, then drink the beverage. When doing so, they have great reverence and fond memories.7  Cheers! (Wonder how this tastes.)

The Lepcha people of Tibet believe alcohol to be the only proper payment for teachers.8

Gold!? Kinpaku-iri sake contains flakes of real gold. While this adds a touch of extravagance, it doesn’t affect the flavor at all.9

II. Western Cultures

world drinking triviaPeople in Portugal still sometimes crush grapes by walking on them (“foot treading”). They typically do so in producing a small quantity of the most expensive port wines.10

British wine isn’t the same thing as English wine. British wine is made from imported grape juice concentrate. On the other hand, English wine is made from grapes grown in England. And Welch wine is from Wales-grown grapes.11.

“Vodka” is Russian for grain spirits that haven’t been flavored. It means “little water.”12

Whiskey and whisky are both grain products. Whiskey is the usual American spelling, especially for beverages distilled in the U.S. and Ireland. Whisky is the spelling for Canadian and Scotch distilled beverages.13

Beer costs less than Coke in the Czech Republic.14

An adult who is not old enough to have a drink!

Of all the countries with armies stationed in Bosnia, only the U. S. forbade its soldiers from drinking alcohol.15

Beer is available in vending machines and by street vendors in Japan.16

In some countries the penalty for driving while intoxicated can be death (yes, death). However, in Uruguay intoxication is a legal excuse for having a crash while driving.17 “Please believe me officer, I really was drunk.”

Other than water, beer is the second most consumed beverage in the world. Tea is first. But other than water, beer is the most popular beverage in some countries.18

     Kosher Wine

world drinking triviaThe entire production of kosher wine, including growing the grapes, must be performed by Sabbath-observant Jews. It remains kosher only if opened and poured by an orthodox Jew.19

Belgium has over 160 breweries.20

The U.S. has the highest national minimum drinking age in the entire world.21

Many high school cafeterias in Europe serve alcohol to their students who choose to drink.22

The U.S. has the strictest youth drinking laws in Western civilization.23

world drinking triviaMcDonald’s restaurants in some European countries serve alcohol. That’s because otherwise parents would be less willing to take their children to them.24

Research from around the world generally shows that countries with higher alcohol consumption have fewer drinking problems. That’s in comparison to those countries where consumption is relatively low.25

Abstention is much more common in the US than in any other Western country.26

Proportion of Abstainers



First, we have even more trivia. It’s fun to amaze your friends and family with trivia you discover!

    1. Siegel, H., and Incardi, J. A Brief History of Alcohol. In: J. Incardi and K. McElrath (Eds.). The American Drug Scene.
    2. Sangree, W. The Social Functions of Beer Drinking in Bantu Tiriki. In: Pittman, D., and Snyder, C. (Eds.). Society, Culture, and Drinking Patterns
    3. Robbins, M., and Pollnac, R. Drinking patterns and acculturation in rural Buganda. Am Anthro., 71, 276-284.
    4. Downes, R. The Tiv Tribe. 
    5. Washburne, C. Primitive Drinking
    6. _________, p. 86.
    7. Felton, B., and Fowler, M. The Best, the Worst and Most Unusual, p. 219.
    8. Heath, D. Drinking Occasions, p. 179.
    9. Frost, G. and Gauntner, J. Sake, p. 75.
    10. Why Foot Treading?
    11. English vs British Wine.
    12. Seward, D. Monks and Wine, p. 151.
    13. Roueche, B. The Neutral Spirit, p. 84.
    14. D. Hanson, pers experience.
    15. Alcohol in Moderation, 5(3), 8.
    16.  D. Hanson, pers experience.
    17. W. Doody, pers communication.
    18. The World’s Top Drink.
    19. Barr, A. Drink, pp. 337-338.
    20. 7 Things You Didn’t Know about Belgian Beer.   
    21. Legal Drinking Ages Around the World.
    22. Brooke, J. School Spreads Alcohol Policy to Wine Sips in Paris. New York Times, May 31, 1998, p. NE12.
    23. Barr, A. Drink, p. 268.
    24. ______, p. 124.
    25. Peele, S. Utilizing cultural and behaviour in alcohol consumption and consequences. Alco Alco, 32(1), 51-64.
    26. Who are the Abstainers? Wash: ICAP, Rep #8, pp. 8-9.