An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol (commonly known as alcohol, although in chemistry the definition of alcohol includes many other compounds). Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits.
Most nations regulate the production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages. In particular, laws often specify the minimum age at which a person may legally buy them, or even drink them.
The production and consumption of alcohol occurs in most cultures and societies of the world, from hunter-gatherer peoples to nation-states. Drinking alcohol is very often an important part of social events in such societies, and it can be an important aspect of a community’s culture.
Ethanol (alcohol) is a psychoactive drug that has a severe depressant effect. Alcoholic beverages can be addictive, and the state of addiction to alcohol is known as alcoholism.