Do you let your kids sip beer or wine

Is it bad if kids drink booze

Is it bad if kids drink booze

Two weeks ago, my 13 year old son came home from school and told me about a special assembly he sat in on. It was about drug and alcohol use, and he said that it was geared towards scaring them away from both. He rolled his eyes and said “Like we don’t know that by now.” I reminded him that people will try to get him to do drugs all the time, and we talked a bit about peer pressure and abstaining. He told me “They said that if we have even one sip of alcohol before we’re 21, we’re 40% more likely to be alcoholics.” Now, that one really bothered me. I can name a number of kids that had their first beer around 11 years old, and none of them are alcoholics today. They are all quite successful people in business and home life. I filed this chat under “things to think about.”

The thinking came when I received an industry newsletter, and it highlighted a report on NBC News by Cory Binns on September 18, 2012. The title was “Experts Warn Parents: Offering Kids Sips of Alcohol May Backfire.” The gist was parents think introducing kids to wine will help fight off peer pressure in the future. Instead, they said “it could backfire and lead to more drinking later on.” They were basing this on research done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which was published in a September 2012 issue of he Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. While I’m not the only person to ever tackle the topic of kids having sips of wine, it’s relevant to me because of my being a wine writer and sommelier. I drink wine at home, my son exposed, and I want to be sure he’s not learning bad habits. I also want him to learn an appreciation for wine, both the positive aspects of what it brings to a meal, and the negative aspects of what it can do to you and your body when not consumed in moderation, responsibly. However, in this day and age where a mom can get arrested for her kids playing outside, the last thing I want is Child Protective Services showing up at my door because my son knows that merlot can taste like blueberries and sticks.

Suburban Wino Talks About Visiting Wine Country With Kids

Suburban Wino Talks About Visiting Wine Country With Kids

Just this week I saw this article about Bordeaux schools teaching wine education to children ages 6 to 10, and it made me feel a little more comfortable about the situation. It’s not news that European families are “known” for allowing children have a sip of wine with a meal. I believe in Ireland the rule is “If you can see over the bar to order, you can drink.” Maybe that’s just rumor. Anyway, I can understand the the reservation of introducing kids to booze too early. Aside from the whole concept of if they like it, they’ll be more likely to drink to excess, there’s the fact that the brain isn’t fully developed until your mid 20s, and there’s potential for harm. However, I believe that forbidding someone from doing something only entices them to want it more. Think preacher’s daughter in Footloose. I also believe that a sip of cabernet sauvignon to taste the dark cherry and Christmas spice harmonize during a steak dinner won’t send my kid into a life of despair.

While my son has never taken more than 1 sip of wine on any night, I am comfortable with it. He’s perhaps had 10 sips in his entire life, all within the last year. I believe that as with anything in a child’s upbringing, a parental influence is important. I shall not only teach my son right from wrong, but also about math, science, food and wine. The last will be a much slower, more measured education, but it will be part of his education. I’m sure I’ll get a phone call from my ex wife after this article is live. Since I’m sure to hear from her, I’d like to hear from you. I’d love your thoughts on kids drinking wine or beer, both your personal convictions as well as any facts you’d like to share!

Last updated by at .

Tagged with 
  • http://twitter.com/SpicyPerspectiv Sommer Collier

    Mine are 7 and 9 and we’ve let them both taste wine. Not regularly though. My husband grew up in a strong catholic family and he has been drinking wine at dinner every night since he was 11 or 12. Something we’ll have to discuss i the next few years…

  • http://twitter.com/CocktailDeeva Dee Brun

    I could not agree more…and I honestly don’t remember the last time I said that to a man..;)
    For me it comes down to how kids process things, it is really little more than a complex game of Monkey see …Monkey do…
    Kids want to try things they see…and if they see mommy or daddy have some wine and we say “No you can’t it’s bad for you.”…well what does that say about what we are doing..
    Kid thought..” OMG mommy and daddy are doing something BAD for them”…commence saving for therapy now…
    This is the whole reason I hate seeing parents smoke in front of their kids…monkey see..monkey do…

    My children have always had sips of wine and even beer every now and then…obviously just a sip because anyone who knows me knows I don’t share..;)

    They are curious on the taste and most of the time think it tastes gross…

    I don’t believe in scary kids in to not doing things…eventually that fear goes away and they are left with no education on the subject…Educating kids is key…

    Great post..
    Cheers

  • http://www.facebook.com/seth.schneider Seth Schneider

    I think your views are spot on! My wife and I feel that the best way to tackle a subject with kids is to have open and honest conversations with them. It says a lot about the type of parent you are that your son would feel comfortable bringing up the subject to you and that you could have an completely age appropriate conversation with him.

  • Sandra March

    My parents always let me have a sip of wine at holidays, and I was allowed to have the cherry in Mom’s Manhattans once in a while. I grew up not needing to experiment in high school or college because I knew what alcohol tasted like. There is no alcoholism in my family, and as an adult, I enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation. I credit some of that to my parents allowing me to taste.

    Good post!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com Matt.mmwine

    I definitely think it’s up to the individuals if they want to introduce wine or beer to their kids. To me, it’s important that I not only educate my son on the taste of wine, but also the effects. While he wont sip enough to get even the slightest of buzzes, I do always explain how alcohol can impair judgement and make you sick if drank to excess.

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com Matt.mmwine

    Thank you for the kind words! I will mark this day down as THE ONE where Dee agreed!

    Education is key, as I said. And I think it’s 100% true that if they see us drinking (on vacation, holidays, etc) and I tell them they cant, it sends mixed signals. Learning that Drinking is bad for them isn’t the right message. Learning that drinking can negatively affect their development until they reach a certain age is one of the right messages. Learning that drinking to excess can cause them to get sick, or hurt, or pregnant is another.

    Appreciate your input!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com Matt.mmwine

    Thanks Seth! I knew you would have good input on this! Knowing your kids, and how they may react to the information and exposure is key. Also, being a proactive parent is important too. THinking “I dont need to talk about that yet” doesnt mean your kids, their friends, or other influences arent already talking or trying it!

  • http://twitter.com/bigbearswife Angie Barrett

    I think it all depends on the age of the child and the maturity of the child and how they process things. I don’t believe that giving a two year old a sip of beer is going to prevent them from every wanting it in the future (yes I’ve heard that excuse before when someone allowed their 2 year old to have some), of course they’ll probably think it’s nasty but when they’re 16 they’re probably now going to remember that. (No, I don’t think a 2 year old needs to be drinking beer or wine) But I think educating someone on wine when they are younger (I’m thinking above the age of 10) will one day help them to appreciate it and be responsible around it and not think of wine or beer as a “drink that will get you wasted”. As far as people becoming “alcoholics” because they tasted wine as a child, that’s crazy. I had my first sip of wine when I was about 12 and it was so gross. I’ve only recetly started drinking wine in the past 5 years because I’ve always thought of it as gross because of that nasty first sip haha, but I am far, far, far from being an alcoholic.

  • Marc Kevin Hall

    As a child I would often “sneak” sips from my father’s pilsner glass, which he would conveniently leave on the floor beside his chair during parties. I don’t know that he was considering the potential effect it might have on my long term emotional development — he was just concerned with getting me to go to sleep early so I’d quit pestering the adults.

    The only long term effect it had on me was making me hate the taste of beer for the next 40-odd years. Today I can tolerate it, but would much rather have cider, thanks to the influence of some English friends. (Or rum, of course. Mmmmm, rum…)

  • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

    YES! Especially this: “However, I believe that forbidding someone from doing something only entices them to want it more.” This is why I want to eat junk food all the time—because we weren’t allowed as kids. Argh! Great piece and some excellent food for thought!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Thank you Sandra. I don’t think I ever “experimented” either. I did partake in beer and wine, before I was 21. However, I always knew when to say when and was always responsible.

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Excellent comments, thank you!

    I remember my dad giving me my first sip of Rolling Rock when I was 7. I thought it was sprite, green bottle and all, and chugged it. Then proceeded to spit all over the car.

    That memory or event did not entice me to drink and more or less as I got older.

    I can understand if a kid tastes a cocktail, and it’s a sweet fruity one and they don’t get the alcohol, they may think it’s a nice drink and try it again. However, wine and beer arent like that. I’m not teaching my kid to drink, I’m teaching him the properties of wine and beer (more wine!).

    Im glad to hear you’re getting into wine more. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, I’m happy to help!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Thanks for coming by and commenting MKH! I never snuck drinks from my parents glasses. I did, however, find myself sipping Whiskey Sours at a sweet 16 or two. Your story, however, is not unusual. I don’t know many, if any, people who turned into alcoholics because of a sip or two before they were “of age”. T

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Erin – Thank so much! I like the fact that you tied it in with other behaviors other than drinking. I think that’s a common thread that people miss. If someone is denied something, forbidden especially, it makes the desire to do that all the stronger. People think forbidding their kids from trying alcohol, or pretending it doesnt exist, will shelter them. I think it often pushes the envelope towards more desire!

  • http://bensnoodle.com/ BenRobbins

    There’s nothing inherently “adult” about alcohol. Like so many other things in life, our kids need to learn about balancing risks, rewards, and responsibilities associated with alcohol consumption. The sooner they are familiar with it and understand it, the sooner they will be empowered to make smart choices. I let my kids (5 & 7) taste it, and I talk to them about why I can order it and they can’t. My intent is that in a few years when their peers present booze as something novel and taboo, my kids will see through the nonsense.

  • http://twitter.com/reneedobbs Renee Dobbs

    My parents always let me have a sip of their wine, beer, or cocktail when I was a kid. I do not see the harm in a taste. Proper parenting, guidance, information, and much more play a part in the whole scenario.

  • http://twitter.com/jamesonfink Jameson Fink

    Fear-based “education” seems counter-productive to me. You, on the other hand, are having an open, honest dialog with your son, which I think is important about many divisive issues.

  • http://twitter.com/LilyISay Leila Bee

    Kids generally learn that kind of behavior from their parents/family first. If they see what it’s like to drink responsibly, to enjoy it as an enhancement rather than getting partially unconscious, it’s going to be easier to handle later when their friends show up with a bottle of lemon gin. Plus you might learn good wine isn’t to be guzzled! :) I was always allowed a little bit of wine or champagne when the family had it at special occasion dinners, and I’ve never been much of a drinker. I would have been allowed beer but didn’t like it, took me until age 25 to get used to beer. Europeans have a much better handle on this issue than we do, possibly because of prohibition? There’s some very slightly alcoholic beverages that are available to everyone, including children there, like Kvass.

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Ben – Thanks for the comment and your thoughts! I wholeheartedly agree. It’s more about taking the mystery away, rather than building it up.

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    That is one thing we lack in America – enough parents to take the time to properly guide and inform their children. Many expect it to be a government or school role

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Thanks for stopping by Jameson and lending your thoughts. I appreciate the kind words. I don’t think I’m special in teaching my son about alcohol, especially given the responses from others. I know that responsibility is learned, and without helping facility responsible choices, I’ll fail as a parent.

    I’m not going to lock my kick in a closet with a bottle of jack and make him drink til he pukes to scare him, ala stories from parents in the 50s and 60s. I am, however, going to explain he can get sick, or hurt,or both abusing alcohol.

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Thanks for stopping by Jeff! I agree, as I’ve said before! Parents need to set not only good examples for their children, but realistic expectations. Pretending the evils of the world don’t exist is just sticking a head in the sand. Demystifying those evils, helping make smart choices in the future, that is what children need!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Seth
    I replied earlier but it didnt save!!
    I knew you’d have a good view on this, even if it was not the same as mine. I think good parenting skills are the key, with this and any potential pitfall in our kids life! Knowing your kids, and when its time to expose them to things only arms them for the future!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Weird, I commented first thing this morning and it didn’t save.

    First, writing today down in History, that Deeva agreed with me! second, The whole “dont do this because it’s bad for you, but watch me do it” mentality is terrible. My ex wife told my son “if you smoke you die” when he was 3 and 4. One day he saw me having a cigar and went into hysterics that I was going to die that night. We look back and laugh, but scaring the crap out of kids doesnt really benefit them!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    It is always hard to know when the time is right to talk about subject like these. However, you seem to have a good handle on it. It’s not about inviting our kids to booze it up with us. It’s bout learning about it responsibly.

  • Emily Leah

    I definitely have opinions regarding this matter for sure. So, I was born and raised in Utah (currently reside in NYC). My parents were NOT Mormon (thank god) and, therefore, had alcohol in the house; liquor cabinets, beer, a large wine cellar, etc. They’d let me taste as a kid after I would continually pester them wondering what it tasted like (as all kids do)– and of course, at the time, I hated the taste of alcohol (boy, how things change!). But from an early age, they always taught me that drinking could be a fun social hobby when I was the right age and, most importantly, that if I ever wanted to drink as a teen, then they’d be happy to let me drink at the house with their permission or under their supervision; as opposed to getting wasted at some stranger’s house and god forbid feeling the need to drive home due to fear of getting caught or in trouble. They also said that my friends could join in on the beverage consumption at their house, as long as they didn’t overdo it and their parents were aware (and that we turn in any car keys to my folks). And during the times where I would drink at a friend’s house, my parents were always aware and would always insist that I call them if I needed a ride home; day or night.
    Now take my Mormon friends for example: their parents made alcohol seem like an abomination, a sin, and something that was forbidden…. Now, I’m not a parent yet, but even I know that if you make something ‘forbidden’ to your kids, their curiosity is going to peak even more. DUH. (no one ever said Mormons weren’t naive). So said Mormon friends of mine were raging alcoholics in high school– good, little church kids on Sunday and during the week, but would get blackout wasted drunk and high every Friday or Saturday. YET I was considered the heathen because I had a glass of wine with dinner now and then with *gasp!* my parents, because I didn’t attend church hungover-as-shit on Sundays, and because I didn’t wear special underwear.
    **I’m not bitter about Mormons, I swear**
    Anyways.
    Because of this way of teaching my parents had is honestly why I was never concerned about partying and getting drunk in high school. Did I have a good time and enjoy myself now and then? Of course. But instead of worrying about where I was getting smashed or worrying what my parents might think about a so-called forbidden beverage, I was able to enjoy myself responsibly now and then without feeling guilty, and I was able to focus on sports, take AP classes and apply to colleges. My folks also established this form of education about marijuana, sex, birth control, etc. They were never afraid to voice their opinion re: anything that they hoped I wouldn’t do/try, but they never made me feel afraid to come to them if I needed help, had questions, etc.
    And that is exactly how I will raise my kids. I will definitely enforce discipline and rules, but will never give my kids the impression that I was once the perfect teenage (because that would be a downright lie, ha).
    When it comes to parenting kids about alcohol, it’s always best to keep the means of communication open, in my opinion. Teach them both the good and the bad.

  • http://twitter.com/lizscherer Liz Scherer

    My dad was a salesman for Ballantine back in the day. I recall having a taste of beer when I was about 4 or so. I am not an alcoholic nor do I like beer. Go figure. Data are hard to figure out sometime; you never know until you read the actual study.

  • http://twitter.com/Sandy_Webb Sandy Webb

    I think it is perfectly fine. When I was growing up my Father made his own beer and wine. I learned about wine from a very young age and learning did not always include tasting. Learning about the grapes and different regions where wine is produced does not have to involve tasting. His beer was very, very low alcohol content so he sometimes would give me a juice glass of beer, but the wine was only doled out in small infrequent “sips” or “tastes”. To this day I still enjoy learning about and drinking wine. I am no alcoholic and I drink in moderation only. I do not have children but if I did I most certainly would teach them the way my father taught me. As a side note, I have a male friend that has never been a wine drinker and I am having so much fun seeing him learn and try new wines and the look on his face when I pair a wine perfectly with dinner is priceless. He prefers big, bold, tannic reds, just like me, which I find odd for a new wine drinker. This weekend I will be introducing him to a wonderful Bordeaux :)

  • Julie {BananasForBourbon}

    I should preface this by saying my mother always says “Jews are never alcoholics” so maybe that’s why I can be counted in the 60%, but I was raised in a pretty open-to-alcohol home, and I am not an alcoholic. [In fact, It was necessary to give up alcohol completely this month as part of an anti-inflammatory diet for health reasons, and while it was hard to break the routine of a beer or glass of wine after a long day at work, it didn't actually require skin off my nose.] They weren’t pouring me a pint at age 10 or anything, but they would have a glass of some not-bad-for-under-$10 Chardonnay or a Sam Adams Boston Ale with dinner most nights and if my sister and I asked for a sip, they would happily oblidge. Their reasoning was that if we were raised thinking alcohol was just something you drink, a little at a time, no biggie, rather than some forbidden fruit we were allowed to glimpse but not touch, we wouldn’t die of alcohol poisoning at some frat party our first week of college. Over the years I tried many sips of wine and beer, and found that like one sip was fun, two sips was rather disgusting, so I stuck with one. I tried Scotch a time or two, and could barely stand to wet my lips with it. When I had really bad colds my mom would give me a tiny cordial glass of cognac. And at Passover I was lucky enough to get away with a whole glass of kosher wine (which had to last through all 4 glasses of the service), gee, lucky me. I got drunk for the first time at 14 when I visited my sister in college. A few sips of vodka and Snapple (it was the late 90s) did me in, and my sister made sure to cut me off once the room started spinning a bit. To this day I stop drinking when I get to that point, more tipsy than drunk really. My sister’s first week of college, she went to a frat party. She called home the next day and complained that there was only “piss beer” to drink, so she had abstained. It was a proud moment for my mom. I found the same thing when I got to college. I actually only drank when I went back home for the first few years (and by drank, I mean had a glass of something at home). After I turned 21, I drank the occasional glass of wine, but mostly found it cost prohibitive and I knew next to nothing besides the highly commercial brands and grapes. Now I’m 30, and I am a diehard wine and craft beer enthusiast. I drink for the enjoyment of what I’m tasting, the education, the craftmanship, and health properties. Never to self medicate my psychological issues. My parents didn’t just let me sip their drinks and never say another word about it. It was a discussion and dialog, as parenting should be. They would tell me why we weren’t allowed to drink alcohol outside of our house until we were 21 and why they let us try it at home. We were raised with a respect for what alcohol was about and disdain for drinking to get drunk and making asses out of ourselves. And really, let’s face it, alcoholism isn’t about not having respect for alcohol or the “slippery slope” to drinking more. Alcoholism is about using alcohol as a coping mechanism for other issues. So personally, I don’t really see how when you start drinking relates to it. I’d be more interested in the statistics of those 40%. Since it’s genetic, how many had history of alcoholism in their family? How many of those exposed early had alcoholic parents? Statistics are sticky.

  • http://twitter.com/awanderingwino Shawn Burgert

    I find it interesting how much people generally follow the “what society says” rule of thumb for values initiated in the home.

    The end of the Roman empire has often been said to have occurred due to the breakdown of “the home” or families. Across the board in massive numbers we find families are no longer eating together. Families that eat together are often sitting at dinner tables with smart phones and not communicating at all.

    Matthew, you taking the time to spend with your children and teach wine (or anything) is an awesome and special thing that sadly seems to have been tossed out the window because everyone says they are too busy.

    I believe in being responsible, knowing facts, accepting ownership, and being able to form an opinion without downcast eyes of those that are not in agreement with our shared philosophy.

    All of this simply to say, right on, I am with you on this one Matthew!

  • http://twitter.com/CreativCulinary Barbara Kiebel

    I don’t recall consuming alcohol when I was a kid…but then by the time I was 10 my mother was an alcoholic and I associated it with the devastation of our family environment so there was no appeal.

    That being said, I’m still a bit overcautious but realistic. I might make cocktails and love them and I drink wine too but seldom without company and never more than 2; that’s my own control mechanism to prevent myself from every falling prey. I think I was more worried about my kids so I decided to not make it a big deal. If they wanted to taste it they could; I certainly didn’t want them more desperate to drink of the forbidden fruit because refused to allow those tastes.

    When I worried the most though was when my youngest started college. I did not make any deals with her but I did let her know how much I worried about her drinking so a routine just started. If she and a couple of girl friends were tempted to go to a party with drinking…they would make the hour drive here. I would make them a cocktail or let them have some wine. I would also take their keys and imposed on them a three drink max for the evening. Funny…once the notion of doing it wore off; they might finish one drink, but the pull to drink and get drunk waned pretty quickly. Once she was 21 I know for a fact she had some moments of wishing she were here drinking (so did I…I stuck up to my promise to pick her up ANYTIME if she had had too much to drink). But she and I both feel that taking the risk factor out of underage drinking helped her realize it was not that big of a deal…and getting drunk on her own taught her some hard lessons too. It’s really no fun!

    There is no one right or wrong answer but I personally don’t feel it’s wrong as long as we behave like parents in the process…and not their friends to get snockered with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.osinski.5 Mark Osinski

    It is strange to me that folks don’t blink twice if we fill up our infants, toddlers and children with ibuprohen, tylenol and other otcs but, cringe at the thought of letting them sip (have a taste) a beer, wine or spirit. I am certainly not advocating that a four year old chug a beer or two. However, using fear tactics about potential risk of future alcoholism is likely counter productive. Parents can certainly have a responsible and thoughtful conversation with a child as to what alcohol is, and why we drink and enjoy it without sending a mixed message subliminally (Mommy and Daddy really want me to binge drink or they won’t love me because they let me have a sip of a very crisp, grassy, Sauvignon Blanc…) Children are unique individuals and they are going to make decisions at one point or another (on their own) as to if they are going to drink booze or not. Hopefully, we have provided them with the best chance to think critically and make the best decisions they are able.

  • http://www.1winedude.com 1WineDude

    I figure the best thing my 4-year-old daughter can have when it comes to an introduction to alcohol is to see mom and dad drinking it in moderation at dinner a few nights a week. No craziness, no big fuss. She gets to taste a drop and smell it from the glass. And to her, hopefully, it’s just viewed as normal and healthy later, and not as forbidden fruit to be binged upon.

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Absolutely awesome feedback, Emily. It seems like your parents thought that giving you an education while providing a framework of acceptable behavior was good for you. And apparently it was!

    I think the studies we see about the good bad and ugly of drinking underage are all skewed depending on the desired results. Everyone is an individual, and it’s up to the parents to know what would and would not work for their kids.

    Thank you for coming by!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    That’s exactly the conversation I was having with someone else separately. The study says what the researcher wanted to convey. Story about underage drinking leading to alcoholism in a majority of adults was skewed by the fact they studied predominantly in areas of low socioeconomic status, where education and work were both hard to come by. Sure. drinking as a kid led to drinking as an adult. However, that’s been the life cycle for the past 60 years or more. Not really empirical research!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Sandy – thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave your experience and thoughts!!

    It’s amazing to see someone light up when they understand a food and wine pairing, or can pick a wine blind.

    For my son. it’s really more about scent. He loves trying to pick notes out of the wines he gets to sniff and sip. He’ll also go to the cheese section to smell the different selections.

    I look forward to seeing how he develops as a food and wine lover!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    I love it! You brought up WHY people become alcoholics! It’s not because booze tastes good. They drink to excess because they’re escaping from something!

    Thanks for sharing your experience! Cheers!!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Thank you Shawn! I think the time we spend together is most important. I make sure it’s a good mix of cooking, education about typical school subjects, wine, and even video games! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    The last paragraph said it all. We need to be parents! Active role in our kids lives!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Thank you for taking the time to come here and post what you had said on Facebook! I think people can justify anything if they try hard enough.

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    I agree Joe! Setting positive role models for our kids is the key. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  • http://twitter.com/1337wine Mark V. Fusco, CSW

    Here’s my experience. My parents allowed my to taste alcoholic drinks they had. I tried mixed drinks, wine, beer, and liquor. Throughout the majority of my youth I didn’t like them other than the sweet mixed drinks. But I never had more than a sip either. I do remember sneaking tastes of airplane bottles of liquor with a friend a few times and we both hated them. The point is, my parents didn’t forbid it, but they didn’t put a glass of it in front of me either.

    Call it part of the European background from our families. My father is 1st generation Italian, but my mother’s family has been here for many generations but are predominately Irish from my grandfather – so alcohol is a major part along with alcoholism. Kids being allowed to try alcohol is just part of growing up in Europe.

    It’s not just being allowed to drink or taste, but how your parents present it. If they are alcoholics and allow you to drink, well, I’m going to hazard a guess that you’ll at least be very familiar with alcohol. Maybe you’ll become a alcoholic, or maybe you won’t because you saw how destructive it can be. On the flip side, the whole Footloose reference is valid. Forbid it and it makes it more desirable. Parents who educate their children about the benefits and pitfalls of alcohol are being responsible, whether they allow a child to taste or not until they are 21.

    I didn’t find any alcohol I liked until I was 22. It was Captain Morgan Rum. Beer was a few years later. I had many friends try to find a beer I would like. It was all about the taste. Shiner Bock became that beer along with Dos Equis Amber and Newcastle. Coors Light was the beer of choice for friends who didn’t drink anything else because it’s pretty much tasteless. Wine didn’t become anything until much later. And my passion for it has only happened since 2005.

    I’ve been through many stages of alcohol. While I’ve never been an alcoholic, I’ve definitely had my fair share of wild nights that come from being in the Food & Beverage industry. We tend to be among one of the professions that party the hardest after work. It doesn’t hurt that bartenders love industry people so we tend to get the best hook ups. Many a night a $20 on the bar has equated to an unlimited bar tab.

  • http://twitter.com/1337wine Mark V. Fusco, CSW

    One more thing ;) There is a growing global temperance movement. Maybe not the scale of what created Prohibition, but that took decades to happen. Our DUI levels are some of the most liberal in the world. The irony of how we seem to demonize alcohol so much, but yet, Europe has lower DUI levels (some are 0.00%) yet don’t view alcohol as evil. Maybe that shows Europeans are just more responsible when it comes to drinking and driving. It also doesn’t hurt that much of the urban centers are conducive to public transportation whereas the U.S. isn’t.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.osinski.5 Mark Osinski

    As a general rule I would not compare Europe to America.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.osinski.5 Mark Osinski

    No worries Scott. Glad to chime in.

  • Julie {BananasForBourbon}

    Unfortunately, I’ve recently been witness to someone deal with alcoholism and the journey to recovery. He drank for years without excess or issue, but when his life got stressful, he chose alcohol as his coping mechanism. Thing is, we didn’t even know he was drunk all the time. We thought it was panic attacks and Xanax. That he had issues (and was dealing with them through addictive means) and needed professional help was clear well before we knew he was an alcoholic. It could have easily been some other substance or habit. We just like to blame our problems on anything and everything but ourselves. It’s not the owner who raised a vicisous dog with no obedience training or socialization that’s the problem. It’s not the parent who let their 3 year old walk up and pet a strange dog they knew nothing about. It’s the Pit Bull’s fault for mauling the kid – someone they perceived to be a threat. Because ALL Pit Bulls are evil. It’s an evil breed.

  • http://www.suburbanwino.com suburbanwino

    Obviously, my kid is around wine all the time as well. I’ve let her smell it (even at 2 years old), just so she knows it’s different from juice. We’ve taught her that “beer/wine is not for kids”, and she knows that. I don’t think you hide them away from it. Just set boundaries, praise moderation and responsibility and common-sense when they get to the age where peer-pressure is concerned, and try to set a good example (at least wait until the kid goes to bed to get loaded, unless it’s a football Saturday :)

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    Good point about pitbulls. People like to blame the wrong part of the problem sometimes out of convenience!
    Matthew Horbund
    Oracle System Administrator
    Oxbow Carbon LLC
    O: 561-640-8764
    C: 561-602-8536

    Matthew.Horbund@oxbow.com

  • http://agoodtimewithwine.com mmwine

    I wonder if, as wine or food writers , we are a little more thoughtful about the education of our kids with wine and beer. It’s something we think needs to be taught because its a part of the eating ritual. We think wine or beer is a side dish, not a focus.
    Matthew Horbund
    Oracle System Administrator
    Oxbow Carbon LLC
    O: 561-640-8764
    C: 561-602-8536

    Matthew.Horbund@oxbow.com

  • Jo Diaz

    European culture… wine + water = understanding.