Monday, February 1, 2010

The Geography of Spirits

As I've said before in another post, I love maps. Here's a map that isn't self evident in it's subject matter. What does it inform us about? Is it climate? Yes, in an offhand way it's about climate. Is it about politics? Maybe. Is it about culture? Yes, definitely. Is it about history? Oh, yes. Is it about agriculture or geomorphology? Yes, those too. But more than anything, I guess it's about geography, which encompasses all of the above.

It is a map of who drinks what where. The red areas drink wine, the greenish areas drink beer and the blue areas drink distilled spirits. It's pretty obvious when you think about it. The regions that have the climate to grow grapes drink wine. In areas that are too cold to grow good grapevines, they grow the components of beer; barley and hops. And the colder regions distill spirits from whatever they can grow, say potatoes or rye.

Wine, beer and spirits. But what about Scotch? Scotland is represented as a beer drinking country, and I'm sure that's true. But it's famous for a diststilled spirit aged in barrels. If they drank all they produced, instead of exporting it, I'm sure they would show up as blue. And what is it that Iceland drinks?

But, with some anomalies, I think this map is pretty accurate, at least in my experience. Your thoughts?

I found this map at


Peggy said...

Very interesting. And what would the U.S. look like if mapped in a similar way? We probably have differences due to climate but since we send products so readily around the states, it seems like it would be mixed up more than the countries in your map.

Bill said...

Even though my drink is scotch I enjoyed the local wines of southwest France last summer. I am learning to appreciate the emerging Arizona wine industry for putting out some pretty good stuff. The maps you found probably represent the total averages but my drink is still Famous Grouse. When we come to visit you in Puerto Vallarta I'll drink scotch. (We can only stay for two weeks.)


Linda said...

Well, of course these are just generalities. There is hard liquor and beer and wine in all these countries. I have French friends who only drink beer, and another French friend who drinks Kirsch made by her neighbors. I notice that Greece shows up as a wine-drinking place (Retsina is truly nasty wine) but in my experience, they drink a lot of Ouzo (anise-flavored hard liquor), which is much tastier than their wine. And I know some Swedes who drink wine all the time. Don't you get the feeling that Ernest Hemmingway drank a lot of absinthe in France and Spain? And the Germans make that disgustingly sweet white wine with the Blue Nun on the label. So, I'd say this map represents traditional generalities and not absolutes. Oh, and in Iceland, besides vodka, they drink brennivin which is kind of like caraway-flavored potato vodka. Best served from the freezer.

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Anonymous said...

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