This is a tricky question, to say the least, since the days when children were introduced to wine at a very young age seem to be over. Fortunately? It's not that simple. Here are our tips and observations.
Few of us can remember our first sip of wine. It is amusing to note that most of the time it is the subject of a more or less shameful story, often lived without parental supervision. For some, it will be a wedding or a family meal, during which a child left unsupervised will have taken a malicious pleasure in finishing the bottoms of bottles - before wandering between the tables with the grace of a crab. An experience that is usually associated with a lasting memory of a reprimand, or even a deep disgust towards the beverage that was guilty of it.
Is drinking wine in front of your children risky?
However, in the not so distant past, the first drinks of wine were initiated or permitted by adults, and drinking wine in the presence of one's children did not pose any problem of conscience for parents. Thus, the ethnologist Catherine Legrand-Sébille reminds us that "the oldest among us know the tradition of the finger dipped in champagne and given to the baby to suckle at its baptism, which is now disapproved of; and there are certainly many of us who, as a child, as Jean-Marie Laclavetine, born in 1954, wrote, enjoyed a boudoir dipped in a glass of Monbazillac! Customs that would seem out of place today, or even justify a raid by the social services. But if the refusal to make a child drink is now accepted, what about sipping a glass in the presence of one's offspring - who most of the time turn out to be much more attentive and observant than one might think? Opinions on the subject differ. For example, a 2017 study conducted in the UK by The Institute of Alcohol suggests that drinking alcohol in front of your children has an impact on their future consumption. Making your child believe that it is only a simple grape juice can be a tempting alternative. However, the subterfuge carries the risk of finding your children innocently pouring themselves a glass of merlot from the fridge.
Can you drink moderately in front of your children?
On the other hand, some sociologists recommend not demonising alcohol consumption - which should always remain moderate - in front of children. This is so as not to create a ban or taboo, and so as to consider wine as an integral part of the diet, to which they will only have access from a certain age onwards - just like coffee or cayenne pepper. Thus, some children can be introduced to the smell of different wines at a very early age, and prove to be particularly good at recognising aromas and grape varieties, without the ingestion of the said beverage coming into play. This is a playful and relaxed approach that has the advantage of awakening the child's curiosity, enabling them to understand that certain things are not allowed. The relationship with knowledge then becomes explicit: "Thanks to the establishment of a framework for observation and discussion, today's children are able to engage in argumentation exercises that allow them to test their power to do, feel and sense", Catherine Legrand Sébille wisely concludes.