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Travel & Drinking Etiquette

Smells and tastes are powerful memory triggers, and you don’t have to be a lush to have fond memories of drinks from around the world.

From drinking Champagne in the region of the same name in France to sipping Shiraz in Australia to sampling a Mai Tai in Hawaii, there are many quintessential experiences that involve imbibing in the local liquor. Unlike what you might expect, however, we’re not talking about traveling simply to get plastered in as many countries as possible. You may want to do that, and if that’s how you’d like to spend your holidays that’s your business, but there’s more to drinking than getting drunk.


For one thing, in many of the places where the drinking age is appealingly lower than it is in the U.S., the attitude toward alcohol is completely different. Wine is common at nearly every meal in France, but you’ll almost never see French people falling over after having seven too many at the bar. Several cities in Italy have tried to ban outdoor eating and drinking after hours in an effort to curb the drunken misbehavior of tourists on pub crawls – again, in Italy, alcohol is something that goes with food.

Of course, these countries are also famous wine-producing regions, and any countries where wine tourism is big business are also countries with drinking cultures. You’ll be able to – as they say – “get drunk and call it a cultural encounter” just by signing up for a wine tasting trip. In these cases, just remember it’s best to let someone else do the driving.

Does this mean you won’t visit places where the locals drink like fish with the ultimate goal of getting completely hammered? Absolutely not. In places like Australia, Ireland, and South Korea (among others) you’ll be able to make up for all the lost liver-damaging opportunities you might have forgone in other countries. Be sure to brush up on the rules of drinking in the country you’re visiting, however, lest you accidentally offer to buy a round for the entire bar.