If there’s one place that Catholics hold up above all others, it’s the Vatican. The home of the Pope, the Vatican is a stunning place that has more than a little bit of uniqueness about it.
For example, did you know that the Vatican is not a city? Many people make the mistake of thinking that it’s a part of Italy. But the truth is that the Vatican is essentially an independent nation. It achieved independence from Italy in the 1920s, with the Holy See holding jurisdiction over its affairs.
Moreover, this unique situation also means that the Vatican is the smallest “country” in the world. With a population of about 1,000 people and a size that’s smaller than many of the vineyards that Italian wine producers use, it’s a corner of the world unlike any other that you will ever find.
But this isn’t all that sets the Vatican apart from the rest of the world. Despite its small stature, the country consumes more wine than any other.
How can this be? And what does the Vatican need so much wine for? All will be revealed in this article.
How Can the Vatican Drink So Much Wine?
There’s a small caveat to add to the statement that the Vatican drinks more wine than any other nation:
It’s only true in a per capita sense.
Per capita essentially means per person. So, what we’re really saying here is that the Vatican drinks more wine per person in the country, rather than just drinking more wine than any other country.
Here’s how it works. A recent study found that the average person in the Vatican drinks 74 litres of wine per year. That makes 74,000 litres for the entire country, based on a population of 1,000 people.
The United States, on the other hand, achieves a per capita rate of 9.9 litres per person. In a country of 325 million people, this amounts to over 3.2 billion litres of wine per year.
That dwarfs the amount of wine that’s consumed in the Vatican when you look at pure volume. But let’s engage in a little mental exercise. Imagine that the Vatican had the same population as the United States. That means 325 million people, so you’ll have to pretend it’s a much bigger country too.
The Vatican’s per capita rate means that with such a large population, the country would consume 24 billion litres of wine every year. That’s over 7 times more than the United States manages at its current per capita rate.
So, we’re not measuring by pure amount of wine consumed in the country during a year. The clear winner there is the United States. But if the United States was populated by the people who live in the Vatican… well let’s just say that the Italian wine industry would really struggle to keep up with the demand.
Why Do People in the Vatican Drink So Much Wine?
This may give the impression that the people who live in the Vatican are a bunch of alcoholics. That’s the last impression we want to give you. After all, the average bottle of wine contains 750ml. That equates to about 99 bottles, which is a bottle every 3.7 days. So it’s not like people are just guzzling wine day and night. In fact, that’s a fairly reasonable rate for some people, especially those who drink a glass of red wine per day to maintain their health.
So, where does all of this wine go?
Well, the first thing to remember is that the Vatican is the heart of the Catholic Church. And, as any Catholic knows, the communion plays a crucial role in the ceremony whenever a church service is held. Now, imagine the sheer number or church services that take place in the Vatican during the course of a year. That’s a lot of different services, all of which need wine in order to be carried out correctly.
But it’s not just ceremony that accounts for the huge per capita numbers. In fact, most ceremonial wine is made from pure grapes. As a result, a lot of it may not even count towards the per capita numbers that we see reported.
The answer may lie in something simpler. Unlike every other country in the world, the Vatican isn’t home to many children, if any at all. That plays a huge role in the per capita numbers.
Remember those United States figures that we spoke of before. Now, imagine that a quarter of the United States’ population is made up of children who don’t drink wine. That knocks the 325 million figure down to 243.75 million. This would raise the per capita figure for the country up to 13.12 litres.
You can’t do the same math with the Vatican because it’s an exclusively adult population. If the country had children living in it, it’s likely that we would see slightly lower per capita figures.
Of course, all of this overlooks the simplest answer of all. The Vatican loves wine. The Pope is a well-known wine lover and this passion likely extends to everyone else that lives there. When you account for all of the international visitors and various events that the Vatican hosts, you get an even clearer picture of where the wine budget really goes.
So, the people in the Vatican certainly do drink a lot of wine. But it’s perhaps not quite as much as the figures would have you believe.
The Final Word
Whatever the case may be, the Vatican is one of the biggest customers that the Italian wine industry has. Whether it’s for ceremony, events, or just because they love wine, the people in the Vatican consume more wine per capita than any other peoples of the world.
Maybe you want to live like a resident of the Vatican. After all, a bottle of wine every 3.6 days doesn’t sound too bad. If that sounds good to you, check out the Xtrawine catalogue. Our website hosts wines from all around the world, which means you’ll never struggle to find variety in our selection.