While some snub alcohol, Catholics, in general, have a traditionally healthy relationship with it. We may have never shunned drinking it, but we are also not looking for transcendence in drunkenness. This is because Catholics see the drink as gifts from God and give Him thanks.
If you’re not fully convinced, there is Scriptural evidence to this: In the Book of Acts, Peter refutes claims that he is drunk because it is only 9 am in the morning—apparently, the Apostles had the good sense to wait until at least after lunch. In another one, St. Paul tells St. Timothy to “stop drinking only water, but take a little wine” (1 Tim. 5:23) to help him with his stomach problems. Even Jesus declares that “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” (Luke 7:34). (Read: 3 Quirky Yakult Recipes to Try on Your Next Kitchen Adventure)
One patron saint of beer (because there are many patron saints of beer!), St. Arnulf of Metz, even said that “From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world.”
Through the years, the Church has had a great relationship with alcoholic drinks. Particularly, it is out of Catholic monastic tradition that we enjoy the following drinks today.
This French liqueur made by the Carthusian Monks since 1737 is intended to be used as medicine. It is composed of distilled alcohol aged with 130 herbs, plants, and flowers. The drink is named after the Monks’ Grande Chartreuse monastery in the Chartreuse Mountains of France. It is served in some cocktails and is popular in French ski resorts where it is mixed with hot chocolate.
If you’re a beer aficionado, you’ve heard of Trappist beer—one of the most finely crafted beers in the world. This beer is brewed by Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists) from La Trappe, France.
Monastery brewhouses from different religious orders have existed across Europe since the Middle Ages. The Trappists, like many other religious people, brewed beer to feed the community, in a perspective of self-sufficiency. Today, Trappist breweries also use their beers to fund their good causes and works. (Read: These drinks may be well-loved, but they can make you even more thirsty)
In order for a beer to use the Trappist name on the bottle, the beer must be brewed within a Trappist Abbey, it must be brewed under the supervision and responsibility of the monks, and the majority of the revenue produced must be dedicated to charitable work.
Dom Pérignon Champagne
Dom Pérignon is not directly made by Catholic clergy but the high-end drink is an ode to a French Benedictine monk, Dom Pierre Pérignon, O.S.B. He made significant contributions to the production and quality of Champagne wine during an era when the wines were still and red. (Read: Dr. Jose Rizal’s Quirkiest Dining Habits)
Dom Pérignon pioneered a number of winemaking techniques including the blending of grapes to improve wine quality in 1670, he perfected the art of producing clear white wines from black grapes through manipulating the presses which enhanced the tendency of Champagne to retain their natural sugar for secondary fermentation in the Spring. He also mastered the art of bottling the wines to capture the bubble of the Champagne. He was also the first to use corks to keep the wines fresh and sparkling.