A discussion about this on another forum got me thinking. Hypothetically, if the physiological effects of alcohol were not present, would people still enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages? Surely yes, now that we've been conditioned to like it. But I wonder if we found a sample of people raised in a non-alcohol-philic society (assuming there is one), and presented them with a variety of alcoholic beverages, they would enjoy any of them. Whatever they decide, is it despite the taste of alcohol, or because of it?
My guess is they wouldn't enjoy it. Alcohol is poison to us (and most other organisms as far as I know), right? So it would be only natural for us to find the taste offensive.
But on the other hand, fermented beverages also last because of that very same reason. And many people unknowingly took advantage of that fact to preserve beverages - wine, beer, etc. So maybe over the millennia of surviving on alcohol, we (or certain populations) have grown a penchant for it?
I think the original beverages were mildly alcoholic, probably not any more bitter than other foods people ate. The effects of this were pleasant and lead to inventing ways to up the alcohol content and the drunk. After a certain point the desire to be drunk was the main factor in the beverage creation and the conditioning you mentioned took over.
I agree. I remember forcing down alcohol and then growing to enjoy it. I now love the taste of red wine and nothing compares to it but I did not at first. Then the neurologist tells me 'You can probably reduce your migraines significantly if you avoid red wine and chocolate.' Just kill me now, why don't you? It couldn't be carrot juice and rice cakes I need to avoid could it? The same is true of smoking, I think. I was a smoker for years but at first I had to put up with coughing and feeling dizzy and sick before I got used to it - why did I do that, why? Most animals would not smoke or drink - they would know instinctively that this was poisoning them. Its humans with their brains which do so much good and so much harm who do this?????
I'm right there with you on the migraines. In my experience, chocolate does not cause the migraine, only makes it worse (in pain level or in duration) if I eat it after the migraine has started. Other things that can make it worse are microwave popcorn (this might actually cause them once in a while), sugar (candies), smells (even if I usually like the smell- but especially perfumes, etc.), and light (even if it's not particularly bright-but especially sunlight or flashing light).
I have noticed a small improvement since I started drinking a mug of coffee everyday. My doctor actually tried to convince me it was the coffee causing the migraines, even after I told him I've been having migraines since I was 6, and I didn't start drinking coffee till I was 33 or so. How exactly does that work?
Also, I take a Naproxen 500 as needed. It doesn't take it away completely, but it does seem to help.
I find coffee helps too and I find that I know when chocolate and wine are a bad idea - if I'm full of beans it won't do any harm, slightly washed out and its a definite no-no. Anyway, in defence of red wine - it gives you iron and de-oxidizes, that's the reason I drink it, honest!
I can offer a somewhat unique perspective on this one. I was raised in a non-alcoholic society: the Mormon Church. My family likes to think they are very devout Mormons. I was taught (as a child) that if I were to ever taste alcohol, I would not be admitted into heaven. I was taught (frequently) about the evils of alcohol, and the foolishness of those who did partake in (even an occasional) drink.
My first taste of alcohol was Gold Schlaggers in a coke when I was 18. I liked the taste of that. When I tried wine, beer, rum, and tequila, I did not like the taste--at all!
I do like a vodka in a Dr. Pepper once in a while--but rarely, and only one drink.
I do not like cocktails or specialty drinks served in restaurants (such as Ruby Tuesday's and Olive Garden, etc.).
I do like the taste of Grasshoppers (minty, chocolatey, and ice-creamy) and Golden Cadillacs (Galliano, White Creme de Cacao, and light cream) however, it does seem to be a bit strong on the Galliano.
A really good indicator for me is the smell. I can tell by the smell if I'm going to like it.
Wine and beer in past centuries were often the only safe liquids to drink if you lived in a populated area. I personally dont drink often at all. Champagne maybe once every four-six months. Beer, ale, stout I dont care for. Am spoiled because I have access to great Sierra water from my tap.
While I dont eat much meat, I do use red wine when cooking beef or white wine when cooking some chicken dishes. But drinking either wine doesnt appeal to me. It must be an acquired taste.
Good quality Tenn whiskey, single malt scotch, and quality tequila, drink straight or on the rocks.
I will have one or two drinks if at a gathering, not something I do daily or even once a week. I do like the flavor.
Here's the video link to the "party on the African Savannah" :
For me it depends on the type of alcohol. I love beer... I love the taste of most beers and have since I was a kid taking sips of what my parents were drinking. If beer were non-alcoholic I'd still probably drink it maybe not as often though.
I think that there are and always were few if any societies that didn't have some form of alcoholic beverage. I can't think of one off the top of my head. I don't think humans have conditioned themselves to like alcoholic beverages ... we are opportunists which is why the human diet has such great variety. If it's edible someone somewhere will eat it.
Alcohol is only poisonous in large quantities. Many other things we ingest are either toxic on some level of consumption or the taste mimics other things that are toxic. Nutmeg in sufficient quantities (ingesting a whole nut) can lead to death or abort a fetus yet we still eat that albeit in small quantities. Our ability to taste "bitter" is widely believed to evolved to help us detect toxins. Yet we regularly ingest things that have a bitter taste such as onions, coffee, unsweetened cocoa and dandelions to name a few. Obviously somewhere along the line humans learned that not everything that tastes bitter is really toxic or bad for us in fact many bitter tasting plants are especially healthy for us... and alcohol in small quantities has been found to also be beneficial.
Primates and especially the great apes are as a whole fruit eaters (frugivores), which may be due to the inability to produce vitamin C edongenously. The fruit that is preferred is what we refer to as ripe to over ripe. the distinction between ripe and over ripe is arbitrary but refers to the level of decay the fruit is in and the level of ethanol that is contained in the fruit. Given that several fruits could be consumed on one feeding, the blood alcohol levels would of risen to a level that these animals could of have a pleasurable sensation of drunkenness.
Ethanol is also a very volatile substance with a distinct smell to primates ( http://icb.oxfordjournals.org/content/44/4/315.full ). The smell could be easily sensed and leading primates to a food source. Thereby it is an evolutionary consequence that humans have an attraction to alcohol.
I do love the taste of a nice full bodied shiraz, that said, it was an acquired taste.