The cul­ture of wine and its im­pact on the youth of to­day

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - Feature - NB I have ar­ranged a su­per two-day trip to Ju­milla, to visit two ex­cel­lent bode­gas for tours, tast­ings and lunch, with an overnight stay and din­ner at the lux­ury Ho­tel Casa Bo­quera, which sits in its own vine­yards! This Gourmet/Wine short break is 25th –

Cork Talk by Colin Hark­ness There was no al­co­hol in our house when I was grow­ing up on the Wir­ral (that penin­su­lar between Liver­pool and North Wales bor­dered by the Rivers, Mersey (yep, I took the ferry more than once) and Dee. Nei­ther was there any in the fam­ily home in South­port, where we moved when I was seven. My par­ents were Methodists – I’m not sure if they ac­tu­ally signed ‘The Pledge’, but they cer­tainly abided by its con­ven­tions. I took a dif­fer­ent view! This, in­evitably, in my case at least, led to a re­gret­table amount of dis­hon­esty and de­ceit – which, of course, still sits un­com­fort­ably, the more so as my par­ents have long since passed on. How­ever, I would ar­gue that it is pre­cisely this claus­tro­pho­bic ex­is­tence that led me to, oc­ca­sion­ally, act in a rather ir­re­spon­si­ble man­ner re­gard­ing al­co­hol.

As an adult, I learned that the French way was rather dif­fer­ent. In the house­holds of France, in years gone by, but also, I be­lieve, to­day, par­ents ac­tively in­tro­duce their chil­dren to al­co­hol and from a quite young age too. Now, there is of course, al­co­hol and al­co­hol – and you might guess, given that I’m talk­ing France here that I’m re­fer­ring to wine more than any­thing else. Wine, as most French peo­ple will tell you, is an in­te­gral part of French cul­ture – I wouldn’t say that wine is their ‘rai­son d’etre’, but I wouldn’t be tak­ing too much of a risk by stat­ing that it is at least a part of their ‘joie de vivre’!

There­fore, the ar­gu­ment would go, it is in­cum­bent upon French par­ents to in­tro­duce their off­spring to part of their won­der­ful cul­ture – re­spon­si­bly, of course. This took the form of giv­ing them a lit­tle wine with wa­ter at the evening meal while the par­ents en­joyed a glass too. Those par­ents with an in­ter­est in wine would tell their chil­dren of the flavours and aro­mas they might be able to dis­cover, per­haps also link­ing them with an­other part of French cul­ture, their cui­sine.

At the same time, they would also men­tion the dan­gers of drink­ing too much. In this way, over a pe­riod of time, they would have ed­u­cated their chil­dren to en­joy wine, but to do so re­spon­si­bly. I’ve al­ways gone along with this the­ory, and in­deed have done the same with my stepchil­dren, with their mother’s ap­proval, of course. In fact, they are halfFrench, so it seems even more ap­pro­pri­ate!

How­ever, par­ents and grand­par­ents be­ware - ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port; it seems that we, along with many other par­ents, have erred!

A six-year study by the Univer­sity of New South Wales fol­lowed nearly 2,000 young­sters aged 12 – 18 years old – their find­ings were, well, wor­ry­ing.

Just over 60% of those given no al­co­hol at all dur­ing these for­ma­tive years, went on to binge drink (de­scribed as four of more drinks in one ses­sion). For those given al­co­hol by their par­ents, in the now be­lieved to be mis­taken be­lief that they were help­ing ‘ed­u­cate’ their chil­dren about re­spon­si­ble use of al­co­hol, that fig­ure rose to just over 80%!

The re­port high­lights the fact that schools, govern­ments and the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion are on a mis­sion to get the mes­sage home to chil­dren, but points out that there is a sig­nif­i­cant un known – the in­flu­ence of par­ents (yes, and grand­par­ents!). The re­port con­cludes that parental ap­proval of lim­ited al­co­hol con­sump­tion in the home is in fact as­so­ci­ated with risk, not pro­tec­tion!

In­ter­est­ing to note then, that in France dur­ing the last few years there have been lessons about vine grow­ing and the re­sult­ing wine, given to pri­mary school chil­dren. There have been, it seems, two ob­jec­tives here – to de­velop a feel­ing of French cul­ture, as well as at­tempt­ing, at such a young age, to steer them away from more hard-line al­co­hol.

Whilst not con­cern­ing chil­dren as such, there is also a move in this di­rec­tion in Spain, with many bode­gas at pains to bring ‘los jovenes’ to wine, rather than spir­its (and beer). Wit­ness, if you will the ‘cool’ la­bels on bot­tles, and ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns that high­light late teenagers and early twenty year olds hav­ing a great time - with wine!

Time for a re-think? What do you think – please e-mail colin@col­in­hark­nes­son­ with your views/ex­pe­ri­ence/ wor­ries?!

Ac­knowl­edg­ing The for my re­search. Tele­graph

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