Wine is an amazing beverage. It is a staple of both high-end restaurants and college dorm parties. Humans have been cultivating grapes and drinking wine since around the time we invented agriculture.
The Wine Institute of California tracks a number of wine statistics, including wine consumption around the world. This map, based on the Wine Institute’s most recent data, shows how much wine was consumed per person in each country in 2012:
Naturally, the overwhelming majority of the highest ranking countries are in Europe. Somewhat surprisingly, Vatican City utterly dominates every other country, with nearly 74 litres — about 98 standard 750 mL bottles — consumed per person in 2012. Vatican City can be seen on the map as the small dark burgundy dot on the coast of Italy.
The Guardian tried to figure out why a tiny enclave of priests and cardinals apparently drank more than one and a half times as much wine per person as any other country in the world. Some of the possibilities they considered included celebrating Pope Francis’ election (impossible, since the data was from 2012 and Pope Francis was elected in 2013), ceremonial use of wine in the sacrament of Communion (unlikely, considering Church rules governing Communion wine), Romans coming into the Vatican to buy tax-free wine and take it back home (also unlikely), and demographics — the Vatican only has about 800 people, none of whom are children (possible, given that some of the other top countries are also very small). At the moment, the nature of the Vatican’s love affair with wine remains a mystery.
Below are the top 20 countries from the Wine Institute’s study. The United States comes in at 56th, drinking 10.42 litres, or just under 14 bottles, per capita in 2012.