Sharon Sevrens, sommelier and owner of Amanti Vino in Montclair, recently wrote an article for Huffington Post on why she and her husband have decided to teach their sons about wine and drinking before they are teenagers, a time many parents feel they should start the discussion.
Sevrens feels that by teaching her young children all about wine —its grape varietals and regions, the culture in which its grown, which food it pairs well with— they will not only get an understanding of something she feels passionate about, but will understand that drinking should be more about quality over quantity when they are mature enough to enjoy wine responsibly.
Asking, “What would happen if all American families were open and honest with their children about the pleasures and responsibilities of wine consumption? Could we reverse the culture of binge drinking that has become the norm among teens and college students?,” Sevrens refers to an Eric Asimov blog “Teenage Drinking: Can Sips at Home Prevent Binges?” in which the wine critic for The New York Times, cites a landmark study by a Harvard professor, “Those who grew up in families where alcohol was forbidden at the table, but was consumed away from the home, apart from food, were seven times more likely to be alcoholics than those who came from families where wine was served with meals but drunkenness was not tolerated.”
“As you look at many countries in the Old World, such as Italy and France, wine is part of every lunch and every dinner; a spoonful of wine is mixed into the child’s water as a symbol that he or she is part of the family. It is not the forbidden fruit it has become this side of the Atlantic,” says Sevrens.
I couldn’t agree more.
Growing up with a Greek father, wine was always on the table and I was frequently allowed to have a sip. On New Year’s Eve or my 8th grade graduation, I was allowed to have the smallest glass of champagne, at dessert I was allowed to enjoy my father’s special strawberries with sugar and Brandy and topped with whipped cream.
On the other hand, my American maternal side, abused alcohol. It wasn’t shared with food, it was used to get drunk.
As a mom now, I take my father’s guide. My children see us enjoy a glass of wine, or sometimes a great beer, with our family meals. When they ask about the drinks, we explain them. We talk about how alcohol can be enjoyed with a meal and how that is different from getting drunk. I, like Sevrens, hope that I’m helping to create a healthy relationship with alcohol for when they are old enough to drink it.