Before you start, yes, I know that the Aztecs had pulque, and there were reportedly mild alcoholic brews in some places in the Southeast, and in South America (and elsewhere), they had (as a recent thread said) “Spit wine”.
But there clearly was no tradition of wine or other fermented beverages among most of the American Indians. This strikes me as extremely odd. There were alcoholic beverages throughout Eurasia and in Africa. Natural fermentation of juices and fruits is damned near inevitable. The North American Indians had plenty of sugar=bearing yeast-attached fruits and berries, including the ancestors of several (labrsca grapes, pre-Loganberries) that are used today in commercial winemaking. So howcum they didn’t have wine?
I asked a woman of Native American ancestry this today. She didn’t know. Pepper Mill opines that they just didn’t like the taste. But that doesn’t explain why everyone avoided such alcohol. Out of many thousand years and a great many individuals, inevitably you;'d have a group of people stumble across wine who actually liked wine.
But there is no tradition. As everyone points out, the Indians had a very low tolerance for alcohol, as it wasn’t in their culture. This isn’t a racist stereotype – I’ve heard it often enough from Amerindian historians and students of culture (with today being the latest example). I’ve come across cases from the 18th century and earlier in original documents, and written about two cases myself for a history journal. Alcohol was an unexpected problem for the North American Indians.
But why? An unprejudiced observer would wonder why they hadn’t discovered alcohol long ago and used it themselves. Is it related to that very susceptibility to alcohol they had? Did groups who used alcohol perish because they succumbed to it too easily and essentially wiped themselves out?