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.
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.
Other microstates, including Andorra (46 liters per person) and the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, off the coast of Canada (44 liters per capita), still fall far short of Vatican levels. Luxembourg, another small country -- though with a population of 535,000 that's many times larger than the Vatican's estimated population of 800 -- is No. 2 on the list, with a per capita consumption of around 56 liters per year.
Among big countries, France and Italy lead the way, each with little more than half the per-capita consumption of the Holy See.
KRE/AMB END LYMAN