Should parents let their kids have a go at wine?


There’s been a few bits and pieces in the UK press recently about parents allowing their kids to drink alcohol with them at an earlier age than 18. It’s obviously sparked a huge of a reaction from bodies like the Good Parenting Guides all the way to Alcohol Concern. But is the backlash all a bit over the top? 

To a certain extent it’s not. But that’s mostly because of the reasons some parents have given for letting their kids drink. One of the most startling was that kids were being offered a drink as a reward for doing well at school. What? I mean, what????? What ever happened to offering the wifi password or half an hour’s tele or something like that?

My overall feeling though is that you should teach kids from a slightly earlier age that wine and beer and whatever is nothing special. It’s something to be respected, and enjoyed with family and friends and food, and in moderation. My French colleague lets his 10 and 13 year old daughters smell wine and develop their palates. In a couple of years the elder one will be having a couple of glasses of watered down wine with dinner. The need to go out and get blasted on a taboo drug whilst underage just won’t be there for her.

My own experience was as a proper Anglo Saxon. I was sneaking beers from 14, getting older kids to buy it for me, and thought getting drunk was seriously cool. University was a complete blur of Snakebite and Aftershock, and it wasn’t until joining the wine industry that I started to gain that respect for alcohol as a drug. I drink a heck of a lot less now than I did back then. Maybe if it hadn’t been such a “thing”, then I wouldn’t have felt the need.

Might even have done a bit better in my degree! 🙂





Picture from the Telegraph’s Lifestyle page

10 thoughts on “Should parents let their kids have a go at wine?”

  1. The excuse here is that, “They are going to drink anyway. And, I’d rather they drink at home. So, I let their friends and them drink here” What? I appreciate the approach that your French friends use. Teach don’t just allow. Good post, Mike.

  2. I remember my parents giving me one third of a glass of wine by age 10. Other parents did the same with their kids and nobody gave it a second thought. It was other times in Spain. Seems like I sound old but times have changed very quickly. I don´t know what makes people to become addicted to alcohol or any other substance for that matter, I´m still scratching my head as to why it happens to me. But as to the question, I wouldn´t let the kids drink wine or a beer, it´s just not necessary I don´t see the point in it. And not because that can lead to addiction, because I don´t see a correlation between starting to drink early to becoming a full blown alcoholic, bunch of my old friends started drinking like me at age 13 in huge quantities and they turned out being bankers, literally, two of them. But no, why give a kid a drink? Let them sneak out and get it and then you torture them, water board them, pulling out their finger nails, that kind of thing. That would probably make them think twice the next time they think about drinking. I should adopt a kid…

      1. My grandfather did that with me when I was a young kid. He made me smoke all I could handle until I puked. Didn´t know the Brits had that same technique, you just reminded me of that episode. Eventually as time passed seems it didn´t work out, but that was a nice reminder. Imagine if you did that to a kid today, you would probably would wind up in prison.

  3. Not making a big deal of it is how we look at it. Since my husband is a winemaker, wine is just a part of the meal and at special dinners, the kids are allowed some (my kids are all in the double digits). So far, it has worked with my two teens- they don’t see a big deal about drinking and don’t drink outside the home (and no, they aren’t that crafty enough to hide it from us 😉 But we would never serve any alcohol to any of their friends.

    1. This is it, not a big deal, have it with food, all nice and chilled out. Especially because you know that the wine is good they’re used to the good stuff. They’re not likely to be diving for a 3L bottle of shit cider in a park somewhere 🙂

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