Beer, Spirits or Wine?

Which alcoholic drink do Europeans prefer?

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Map showing the most popular alcoholic drink in Europe.

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It is quite often said that the southern part of Europe drinks wine, the northern part beer and the eastern part spirits. But as we can see an this map, that is not completely true.

In most of the southern European countries, wine is the most consumed drink. People in Spain and Malta prefer to drink beer. In Cyprus they prefer spirits over wine. We do see some countries outside of the southern part of Europe that also really like wine. People in Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Moldova also really seem to like wine. Especially Moldovans really like their wine. They are the biggest consumers of wine in Europe. Denmark, Sweden and the UK might be quite surprising. One would expect beer to be more popular in these countries.

The other countries in the northern half of Europe don’t show many surprises. One would expect all these countries to prefer beer. The Czechs are the biggest consumers of beer in all of Europe. Not too surprising for the home of pilsner, the most popular type of beer in Europe.

The eastern half of Europe is a lot more mixed than one might expect. It’s not all spirits here, like the stereotype. Most countries actually prefer beer. Slovenia, Serbia, North Macedonia and Moldova prefer wine. The biggest consumer of spirits in Europe, is Estonia.

The data from this map comes from the WHO. The consumption of the alcoholic drinks, is measured in litres of pure alcohol consumed per adult per year. You’re probably wondering whether it wouldn’t be more accurate to measure it by the total consumed litres per adult per year? For those of you that drink alcohol, you will probably know, that as the alcohol percentage of a drink increases, you drink less of that drink in total. E.g. one can easily drink more than 1 or even 2 litres of beer in an evening, without seriously putting one’s life at risk. That’s of course a totally different story with a drink like vodka, which has a very high percentage of alcohol. Using this measure, will give you a much more accurate perspective on which alcoholic drink is more popular.


  1. Beer still is more popular than wine in Denmark, Sweden and the UK, but since wine contains around 3 times as much alcohol as beer the majority of alcohol consumed in these contries comes from wine. Beer is of course consumed more often and in larger quantities. I would call this map misleading.


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