As the seat of power of the Catholic Church and the centre of religious activities joined by millions of people, the Vatican City is perhaps one of the best known places on Earth. But there is one little-known fact about the city that’s really amusing: wine is consumed like water in the Vatican.

Not that the predominantly church-going Vatican dwellers are drunkards; well, not really, even though they drink 74 litres of wine over the course of a year! That means 105 bottles of wine is downed by one person each year. This puts the Vatican City at the top of the wine market in Europe and the world, beating France, the United Kingdom, and Italy as a whole.

Vatican City
There is no need to worry about not being able to have a glass of wine while in the Vatican City.

Geography and demography provide clear and logical explanations for these rather surprising statistics. From the bell towers of St. Peter’s Basilica to the underground catacombs of the Vatican, local residents toil beyond work hours to watch over and maintain each corner, often taking sips of wine to fight the cold. More wine is served to them literally in a silver cup because, as Vatican workers, they are required to take the ceremonial Communion wine during the bi-weekly or, on seasons, the daily mass.

Existing as a microstate with its own rules and laws, the Vatican has treated its approximately 800-strong population to a wine-centred culture where most of the social activities are enjoyed with bottles of wine. This is why it’s not uncommon to see groups of accomplished, highly educated, and, usually, retired males gathering at restaurants and street corners to eat together, enjoy each other’s company, and yes, consume a lot of wine.

Romans discovered that mixing lead with wine not only helped preserve wine, but also gave it a sweet taste and succulent texture. Chronic lead poisoning has often been cited as one of the causes of the decline of Rome.

If this doesn’t sound like your kind of place, then wait till you hear this: the single supermarket in the Vatican sells the world’s best wines at very low prices! Let’s give a toast to that!

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About Heather Tucker

Heather is a writer, photographer and explorer of the world with bylines in Archaeology Magazine, Porthole Cruise Magazine, Taste & Travel, amongst others. She is addicted to pen, paper, hotels, organisation and hippos. In addition to Travel Gluttons, you can find her over at Cloggie Central.


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