25 February 2014

Vatican City State leads world in wine consumption

Fully aware that wine gladdens the heart, Catholics have long enjoyed alcoholic beverages, so much so that certain stereotypes about Catholics and the drinking of alcoholic have come about (cf. Psalm 104:15). A recent study may help to reinforce that stereotype:
ROME (RNS) Tiny Vatican City consumes more wine per capita than any other country in the world, according to information from the California-based Wine Institute.
According to the Wine Institute’s latest statistics, the Vatican consumed 74 liters of wine per person, around double the per-capita consumption of Italy as a whole. A standard bottle of wine is about .75 liters.
Before jumping to the stereotypical conclusion that most priests are alcoholics (a stereotype that was quite popular before the sexual abuse scandal, a scandal which has yielded a different stereotype), it would be wise to give legitimate consideration to what may lead to such a statistic:
And while some of that consumption is clearly related to ceremonial Communion wine, Italian press reports say it’s more likely because Vatican residents are older (the lack of children are figured into the statistics), are overwhelmingly male, are highly educated and tend to eat communally — all factors that tend to lead toward higher wine consumption.
Another factor: the Vatican’s small size that makes it easy for per-capita figures to be distorted by the activities of a small group, or in the case of the Vatican, a single supermarket that sells wines almost tax-free.
All things considered, this survey does not tell us much or, frankly, matter very much at all.  Even so, I can imagine various places where it might be used to further an anti-Catholic prejudice.

At the same time, I can imagine various places where Catholics might attempt to use to encourage drinking to extremes. We must remember that while wine does gladden the heart, Saint Paul clears exhorts us, "Do not get drunk on wine, in which  lies debauchery, but be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). There is a balance to be maintained.

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