Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wine With Dinner for Teens?

Following yesterday's post about drinking licenses for 18, 19, and 20 year olds, I was drawn to a column in the New York Times by wine writer Eric Asimov. He is a wine professional, and grew up with teens having a little wine with meals as part of his family's normal practice. Now that his kids are coming to the age when they would normally be introduced to wine, he and his wife were torn by the school's message that kids should have zero alcohol.

Asimov read the research and talked to the experts. His conclusion:

in a household where wine is regularly served with meals, and where there is not an alcohol issue, violence or a communication problem, young people might experience some degree of protection against future alcohol abuse by being offered small tastes of wine.... the research seems to indicate that it can help by teaching children that wine is a ceremonial beverage that we drink for its taste and for how it goes with food, and that the point of drinking is not drunkenness.

This seems to me an entirely sensible conclusion. Moreover, in 30 states, including Kentucky, it is legal for parents to serve their own children alcohol. I myself am a teetotaler and don't have wine with meals, so have not had occasion to offer it to my children. But I think that it is appropriate for my older teens to try alcohol. I will argue the benefits of a teetotal life, but if they learned to be moderate drinkers -- one glass of wine or beer -- that would be OK.


kerri said...

I agree. I think that lessening/removing the idea of drinking alcohol as a sort of act of defiance or rebellion can help keep kids from abusing it. I think that most people, by the end of college, figure out that having a drink is more fun if you don't get thoroughly drunk-- and allowing people to experience alcohol in moderation from a slightly earlier start might help in shortcutting around learning that lesson the hard way.

Anonymous said...

I agree as well. I was raised Catholic, so I got to try wine very early in life as part of Communion. My parents would also usually let me have a sip or two of their drinks if I asked. I'm a few months short of my 21st birthday at the moment, and I have never been drunk or had any desire to experience that state. I rarely drink at all except (personal oddity here) at weddings and when I'm outside the US.

brax4444 said...

I was raised Catholic as well. Although I don't count Communion, I did have plenty of opportunities to enjoy wine with Italian and other dishes at home. At 23, I now enjoy it with lunch or dinner several times a week and have never felt a desire to abuse any alcohol containing beverage in any way. I think demystifying alcohol is a good idea.