Russian President's Alcoholism Cure: More Wine!
Dmitry Medvedev's belief in the virtues of wine has inspired an extraordinary idea to end his country's epidemic of alcoholism.
Most of us learned back in high school that a bottle of beer is the rough equivalent of a shot of hard liquor—which is also broadly the equivalent of a glass of wine. But perhaps Russian President Dmitry Medvedev went to a different school. He stated this week that the development of the country's winemaking industry could “contribute to the eradication of alcoholism”—it's the production and consumption of “other drinks,” according to Medvedev, that leads to alcohol abuse. The seemingly illogical idea of tackling widespread alcoholism by producing more alcohol seems to make perfect sense to Medvedev. Then again, he runs a country where beer has only recently been classified as an alcoholic drink, rather than a food. "Countries where [winemaking] is strong, have no problems with alcohol abuse,” stated the president, sweepingly. Medvedev’s plan to eradicate alcoholism—quite apart from any "minor" flaws—faces some significant obstacles: 40% of Russians—almost 57 million people—drink to excess, per capita alcohol consumption is twice the critical norm set by the World Health Organization, and tens of thousands of Russians die from alcohol poisoning every year. The idea of expanding a small industry, based around vineyards near the Caspian and Black seas, to transform the vodka-swilling masses into wine-sipping connoisseurs would seem excessively ambitious—even if it weren't also insane.