Help Out With a Great Wine Story: Kids & Wine

We’ve had this discussion before.

Do you parents let your small children, say 4, 5, 6, 7-years old taste wine? Is it a proper, even healthy, thing to do? If you do, is there a fear in the back of your mind that the agents of the state will break down your door and make an example of you?

Someone else is wondering about this question. In fact, she’s writing a story for the Associated Press about parents that introduce their children to wine at a young age.

Victoria Brett would like to speak with any parents out there who do have an opinion on this or have actually given their children sips of wine.

If you are willing to speak with her you can e-mail her here:

[email protected]

As I mentioned to Victoria, we began allowing our children to take a sip of wine whenever we opened a bottle. Not a glass to swill down, but a sip. Each time they did take a sip we insist they tell us what they think. Good? Bad? Fruity? Yucky? Tart? Sweet? Whatever. The idea was to make them comfortable with wine as an object of interest and pleasure, rather than a forbidden fruit.

You may have a different experience or a different approach. Shoot Victoria an email and let her know your experiences. It will make for a better story.

Or, leave your thoughts in a comment here.


11 Responses

  1. Lindi - November 13, 2007

    Really, what is the big deal about giving a child a sip of wine. Didn’t mothers used to put whiskey on the gums of teething children?
    Growing up, my parents would often times let us have a sip here and there. It piques interest by letting children know their opinion ‘matters.’ Which is much better than getting their curiosity going in the opposite direction – “if it’s so bad for me then how come you drink so much of it?” Which I think gets more kids in trouble these days.
    Our views as a country on alcohol in general are a bit backwards.
    I do not have kids now, but when I do, I am sure that I will let them have a sip of wine now and again so that they will respect it, not covet it.

  2. Arthur - November 14, 2007

    This is a tricky subject. I know at least one winemaker who lets their child in the 8-10 years of age to TASTE (ie spit) wines ine the winery.
    My kids are very curious about the aromas in wine and ofte ask to smell from our glasses when we sit down for a meal. However, I am waiting a couple years until I let my older child TASTE. I am still trying to decide if his level of maturity would allow him to understand the place and purpose of tasting and treat it appropriately.

  3. duanehoff - November 14, 2007

    I have a 14 yr old daughter and a 16 yr old son. We waited until this year to allow them to have a 1/4 glass of wine with dinner.
    I think waiting until the teen years is the way to go. We positioned it with them that they are now mature enough to enjoy wine and understand it’s place at the table.
    What do you do when your 8 year old LIKES wine?

  4. Sarah Newton - November 15, 2007

    I don’t see any problems with getting your kids integrated with wine at such a young age.
    Treating wine like an everyday this to be enjoyed and described is far better than forbiding it. If your kids see you enjoying and enthusing over wine, whilst baring even a sip to them, they could treat alcohol in an abusive manner in the future.
    Italian Wine Blog

  5. Dan Cochran - November 15, 2007

    When I was about five, my mother gave me a small cup of wine. It was no big deal – it demystified wine for me as just another beverage that grownups enjoy. It was a long time before I began buying and drinking it on my own – by then, I was legal.

  6. Ian Griffith - November 15, 2007

    I have a 6-year old who loves wine; for me the choice to offer my 3 boys a chance to taste (small sip) was about demystifying wine and beer and making them aware of their palates. They also know that some grownups, including their deceased grandmother, drink too much alcoholic beverages and don’t take care of their bodies.

  7. Richard Shaffer - November 15, 2007

    Our family is Jewish and we regularly drink wine on the Sabbath and during other holiday rituals (honestly, every day now!).
    So we’ve always provided our kids small sips of quality wine in religious settings. Honestly, our 11-year old son has a better palate than my wife and I! We ask him to evaluate the wine he tastes (sight, smell, taste) and he can very clearly discern differences in wine. I think sharing wine in settings like this demystifies alcohol and teaches young people how to slow down and enjoy the physical world in an elevated way.
    In fact, I took him with me to Israel last summer and he tasted with me at about 10 wineries all across the country, even harvesting some merlot early one morning!

  8. Liz - November 16, 2007

    My daughter is only 3, and won’t sip unferemented Welch’s, let alone wine. However, we started collecting wines from her birth year (2004) that we will enjoy as she and the wines mature. She knows that Mommy sells wines and Daddy brings food (waiter). She knows about the vineyards, we talk about the grapes growing and harvest. Living in the Napa Valley, I think it is crucial for her to understand her local environment, and why we must be gentle with our resources. We want her to grow up respecting wine and all that goes into it.
    Now, for last week’s article on about taking kids to tasting rooms, whole ‘nother story. People come here for vacation from their kids, so I don’t ruin it for them and bring mine. Besides, it would not be much fun for her yet.

  9. Agent Red - November 20, 2007

    In Europe, wine is a part of everyday life. As wine is part of the culture, Europeans often allow children small amounts of wine; with water, with soda or straight.
    I have taken my kids (Agents Juice Box and Soda Pop, respectively) on tasting missions and always allow them to sniff. When winery personnel are not visibly shaken by this (lighten up puritanical America?), they sometimes take a tiny sip. My kids are extremely adept at identifying not only aromas, but also varietals. With their lesser-worn olfactory senses, they have pointed out qualities that have taken me time to uncover.
    I agree with Sarah that forbidding wine can cause problems. I believe that by destigmatizing wine, teens are far less likely to abuse it.

  10. Gary - January 29, 2008

    I have been a home winemaker for slightly longer than I have been a parent. My son, who is now almost 16, has been enjoying an occasional sip since he was about 5 or 6, especially when I have something unusual open. He has also helped me in the cellar, tasting musts and aging wine. Not only does he have a good, educated palate, wine is no big deal to him. We’re Italian, and that’s certainly the way it’s done in the old country.

  11. Marco Montez - January 31, 2008

    My oldest daughter is 4 years old and this past harvest she helped me de-stem some Pinot Noir. She picked each berry individually, got dirty, tasted a few of the berries, asked many why? type of questions and had a blast. From that day on, whenever she sees me drinking wine, which is pretty much every evening, she asks me to let her swirl the glass and smell it. I’ve been waiting for her to ask me for a taste and quite honestly I have not decided if this would be appropriate or not at this early age. But I know the day is coming…

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