Alcohol in the Qur'an - Booze is God-given!

My latest mail to "Kevin"
In An-Nahl (The Bee) there is a series of verses listing the wondrous things God has provided for mankind (I'm sure you know it)
16:65 starts the list with the rain that brings forth life - "a sign for those who listen", 16:66 talks of milk coming from cattle - "an instructive sign", 16:68 talks of the eponymous bee, and 16:69 finishes this section with the following: Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought.
Now, do you know what we find right in the middle of this wondrous bounty that God has provided? This...
16:67: And of the fruits of the palms and the grapes-- you obtain from them intoxication and goodly provision; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who ponder. (Shakir) or And of the fruits of the date-palm, and grapes, whence ye derive strong drink and (also) good nourishment. Lo! therein is indeed a portent for people who have sense. (Pickthall) Yet strangely Yusuf Ali appears to have found a different version of the original Arabic, for any mention of strong liquor is absent: And from the fruit of the date-palm and the vine, ye get out wholesome drink and food: behold, in this also is a sign for those who are wise.

Now, I know that Muslims say that the mention of strong drink in this verse is to show that we can choose to abuse God's gifts, and the mention of "a sign to ponder" reinforces this, and I have no doubt you will say this is the case.... But as you can see, all the other verses in this section have the same ending about "signs". This is the first time I've gone back and read the whole surah which puts the verse in context. It seems clear to me (and presumably to Yusuf Ali as well, since he felt the need to redact the offending words - why else would the mention of strong drink be missed out?) that the list is designed to be read as just that, a list of the bounty provided by God: He has provided the Arabs with milk, rain, honey and the necessary to make strong drink. There is no reason to read this verse any other way, and taken together with the other verses about alcohol from the Meccan period, any other understanding requires interpretation after the fact.

This is what worries me in a nutshell about the "experts" to whom the believers turn when they have doubts as to how a certain verse should be read. That the Qur'an later states alcohol is to be avoided, and it is impossible that God should contradict himself, it follows that the only interpretation possible is the one that you have learned to accept. Read it from the point of view of someone with no preconceived notions as to what it MUST mean, however, and a very different conclusion is, I think, inevitable.

Sure your too busy, but I'd be intrigued to hear what you make of this.