Top 10 drinking nations in the world

Have you ever wondered what countries drink the most alcohol? I’ll bet you have. No doubt certain nations come to mind because of the way they are portrayed in movies, TV, advertisements and the news. However, some of the countries on this list, put together by CNN, might just surprise you. Like so many “best of” lists (not that this is one), here are the heaviest-drinking countries listed from number 10 down to number one. Just make sure you drink responsibly while checking it out.

10. This is one country I thought would have been near the top. Having spent some time in Australia, I can tell you firsthand they have a reputation for being able to put it away big time. Some of their drinking stories are legendary. However, Aussies aren’t the imbibers they used to be. Once a huge beer market, rising prices and refined tastes have turned many folks to wine. Probably a good thing, seeing as they produce some great ones. Thus, they sit at #10 on the list.

9. Octoberfest, and especially its beer, has ensured Germany’s presence on the top 10 list. The Octoberfest celebration is the country’s month-long answer to St. Patrick’s Day. Much of Germany’s consumption has to do with the fact that beer can be purchased just about anywhere: bars, shops, gas stations, newspaper stands and on public transport.

8. The African nation of Uganda drinks more alcohol than any of its continental neighbours. Part of this reason is the result of much illegally-produced booze and a drink made from bananas. High on the menu is a potent liquor called “waragi,” also known as “war gin” because it was once used to fortify troops.

7. In South Korea, alcohol helps “oil the wheels of business and allows people to vent frustrations.” Perhaps just what’s needed to overcome the strict social protocols of the country!

6. The tiny Soviet state of Moldova has a decent selection of homegrown wines and local variations on eastern European fruit brandies. That’s what enables them to maintain a spot on this list.

5. There is a ritualistic rule of drinking in Ecuador: you must wait for a toast before you can take a first sip of your drink. After that, you’re on your own. The local imbibe is called “hangover in a bottle.” Zhamir is an inexpensive, ridiculously potent drink made from sugar cane that will have you snockered after just a few sips. Need I say more?

4. The French consume wine with every meal except breakfast and it’s often more freely available – and cheaper – than water. Only French wine will do though, no foreign stuff! They are wildly loyal to their own wines. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find any other country’s vino in their shops.

3. Vodka is as synonymous with Russia as martinis are with James Bond. This spirit seems to be stoically endured and part of the culture. If you had to endure a Siberian winter, I suppose you’d appreciate the warming effect of vodka.

2. There’s no denying that China has one of the most rapidly expanding economies on the planet. Aside from a new-found love of wine and rich splurging on high-end, first-growth Bordeaux, this culture loves to drink during celebrations, especially with grain-based spirits and brandies. Premium whiskies like Scotch, imported beer and top-of-the-line cognacs are always huge. Weddings, births, deaths, birthdays, business deals, etc. are all great occasions to indulge.

1. Finally, the all-star consumer of them all, Great Britain! Potable life here revolves around none other than the pub. It’s a place to grab a bite, meet and greet friends, watch sports, celebrate victories and curse losses, begin and end relationships, settle scores and make deals. I’ve heard some folks say drinking is a way for many Brits to overcome their traditional reserve.


Edward Finstein a.k.a. The Wine Doctor, wine writer, educator, judge & consultant 


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