Pope Francis Receives Diploma as Honorary Sommelier

On Wednesday, Pope Francis denied rumors that he is a teetotaler, drinking only mate tea, an herbal infusion typical of certain Latin American countries.

“I’m not a teetotaler,” he said. “I drink a little wine from Italy and other countries from around the world. But just a little.” The Pope’s grandfather, in fact, was winemaker of Piedmontese origin.

After yesterday’s General Audience, the Pope received Franco Maria Ricci, president of the Italian Sommelier Association, who led a delegation of some 180 wine producers, vintners, sommeliers, and wine writers.

“When he uttered that phrase,” Ricci said with a smile, “I was relieved.”

“The idea of asking for an audience with the Pope came to me when I heard that he made so many references to good wine in his preaching,” said Ricci. “For us producers, sommeliers and vintners, it is an important honor and an encouragement for our work.”

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