Wine, Beer, and Distilled Spirits

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Like all good foods, wine, beer, and spirits nourish and satisfy the body. What sets them apart is the very direct way in which they touch the mind. They contain alcohol, which is both a source of energy and a drug. In moderate amounts, alcohol causes us to feel and express emotions of all kinds—happiness, conviviality, sadness, anger—with more freedom. In large amounts, it’s a narcotic: it numbs feeling and clouds thought. Alcoholic drinks thus offer various degrees of release from our usual state of mind. Small wonder that they were once considered an earthly version of the nectar of the gods, foods that give mortals a taste of being carefree masters of life!