What and how much people drink depends a lot on what country you're in or what culture you're exposed to. Personally I grew up in a low-alcohol family. It's not that we thought it was bad, but just because, well, it didn't really occur to us to do that. The Economist shows these differences via this world map on average alcohol consumption, according to a recently released report by the World Health Organisation.
The world drank an average of 6.1 liters per person in 2005, but it was significantly more in Europe and the Soviet states. Hey, you gotta stay warm somehow, right?
Have a look at this map for legal drinking age. Is there any relationship? Doesn't seem to be a very strong case.
[Economist | Thanks, Elise]