The Family That Drinks Together…

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Eric Asimov recently had a very thought provoking article on his NYT’s blog entitled “Should Wine Be a Family Affair?” where he discussed allowing children to have a little wine with food at the family table.

For generations of parents and children growing up in the world’s wine regions this has never been a difficult question. Young children at the family meal have traditionally received a spoon of wine in their water at family meals, a kind of ritualistic bonding exercise that both solidifies their position as part of the group and conveys the idea that wine is a food. Teenagers might get a small glass of their own, cementing the connection between wine, food and family, with the additional benefit of exercising their palates.

While I definitely fall on the side of allowing a small taste to both educate and demystify, there is also this puritanical voice that whispers that I shouldn’t. It is a tough issue that doesn’t have an easy answer. In fact, Asiomov says it very well:

Now, obviously I have a bias. I get a great deal of pleasure out of wine and hope my children will, too. But I’m also a parent and obviously nothing is more important to me than the safety of my kids. I tried to go about this in an objective way, separating fact from fear mongering and feeble thinking. The bottom line is there are no right answers, only what’s right and comfortable for you and your family.

I’d be very interested to hear other people’s experiences and takes on this issue.

  • http://www.miamihawktalk.com Chuck

    When I was 12 or so, my parents started letting me have a small glass of wine with dinner sometimes (not all the times that they drank with dinner, just some of them–but it was at arbitrary times, not “every Thanksgiving” or something). I think that was an appropriate age to start on such a course: any earlier, and you’re still a little kid who thinks half the stuff you taste is disgusting. Also, it makes for a nice little bit of “adulthood” for an adolescent.

  • Louis Krodel

    I was raised having small amounts of beer on holidays as a child. I had my first martini at about 12 (did not like it!). However addiction (alcoholism) is an inherited disorder and I was lucky that I never developed an addiction — many of my cousins became alcoholics. I would suggest caution giving a child alcohol if there is a history of addiction in the family.

  • http://www.miamihawktalk.com Chuck

    When I was 12 or so, my parents started letting me have a small glass of wine with dinner sometimes (not all the times that they drank with dinner, just some of them–but it was at arbitrary times, not “every Thanksgiving” or something). I think that was an appropriate age to start on such a course: any earlier, and you’re still a little kid who thinks half the stuff you taste is disgusting. Also, it makes for a nice little bit of “adulthood” for an adolescent.

  • Louis Krodel

    I was raised having small amounts of beer on holidays as a child. I had my first martini at about 12 (did not like it!). However addiction (alcoholism) is an inherited disorder and I was lucky that I never developed an addiction — many of my cousins became alcoholics. I would suggest caution giving a child alcohol if there is a history of addiction in the family.

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Joe Power

    You both make excellent points, which demonstrates just how complicated this issue is.

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Joe Power

    You both make excellent points, which demonstrates just how complicated this issue is.