”Let the children taste wine”

In many places this is a controversial statement, not least in Sweden, our country of origin. But there’s recently been quite some discussion on that theme on the internet. It started with Dr Vino (Tyler Colman) who wrote about his six year old son coming home from school with a pamphlet bunching beer, wine, Marijuana, crack etc together as dangerous drugs. The post has (today) 54 comments.

That sparked Gabriella Opaz (Catavino) to write a post where she argues for the reintroduction of the word “experimentation” into the American dictionary (Gabriella has many talents, one of which is to write strange headlines). She criticises the American attitude of forbidding things (e.g. anyone under 18/20/21, depending on state, tasting wine) and compares it to how children are brought up in Europe, where, she says, there’s nothing secret or forbidden about wine. Instead the children learn about wine at the dinner table, and taste wine at an early age together with the family. This “European” attitude doesn’t create the aura around wine as something forbidden, dangerous and therefore exciting, as is the case in the USA, that leads to many alcohol related problems. According to Gabriella. There are quite a few interesting comments on Gabriella’s article too.

As a follow up to that, Finkus Bripp (a pseudonym for a Canadian sommelier living in Germany) wrote about his experience growing up in an Italian family in Canada, where at every dinner there was wine on the table, wine that he was given a taste of already at a young age. When he grew older, at the age when youngsters start ‘partying’ he was didn’t understand the attitude of his friends at school when they wanted to raid the wine or liquor cabinet and get ‘drunk’ for the party. For him, wine was just something you had with dinner and there wasn’t any particular fun involved in the ‘drunk’ part of it for him.

This is hardly an argumentation that goes down well in many countries today, certainly not in Sweden or England. The Swedish anti-alcohol propaganda makes it clear that if anyone under 18 (the legal drinking age, but you have to be 20 to shop in the state owned wine stores) is given a taste of alcohol they will be only a small step away from alcoholism and social misery. The information also makes it quite clear that the main purpose of drinking is getting drunk.

I think that I need to explain to Gabriella that Sweden, and probably England too, are not part of Europe. At least not her Europe.

What’s your opinion? Vote or post a comment!

This post is also available in: Swedish


3 Responses to ”Let the children taste wine”

  1. @stacywoods November 14, 2009 at 18:05 #

    I love to taste wine with my children 11,9, and 7. Their palates are sensitive and their insights are so pure. They have a heightened sense of awareness for acidity and tannin and their heads are not clouded with thousands of descriptors for simple smells. One of their favorite games is to quiz themselves on the Le Nez du Vin kit. They can are also learning in a safe and controlled environment to appreciate wine as something to be savored and tasted rather than drunk.

  2. Justin Roberts November 15, 2009 at 08:38 #

    I can understand where Gabriella is coming from, but I think you are also right that this attitude to drinking wine is not a Europe-wide phenomenon. I think Gabriella probably means a Mediterranean attitude towards alcohol, different to the way Nordics, Germans, Eastern Europeans, British and Irish approach alcohol (usually nothing until you are legal and then in excess). I've noticed a change in Spain too. There is a fashion here for "botellones", where young people gather outside in large groups to drink, and quite often become hideously drunk…

  3. Per and Britt November 15, 2009 at 09:38 #

    Interesting thought: Le Nez du Vin as a children's game. Why not?

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