Food & Wine Tours: The Wine Culture of Europe
In Europe, food and wine go hand in hand, making drinking wine a part of every day culture. While this topic is one that often stirs controversy, it’s a simple fact of life in much of Europe: tasting (and that means sipping) wine at an early age is a societal norm. So when you’re visiting Europe? Don’t be surprised if your teenager is offered a glass of wine.
The decision to give kids a taste of wine is, of course, a decision of the parents, but it’s a common occurrence, especially throughout Italy, France, and Spain, all countries where we offer a variety of cooking vacations. And it truly is a ‘sip’ of wine, as binge drinking is frowned upon there just as it is here in the States. When kids are given their first taste, it’s often just given as a sip, a spoonful of wine mixed into their water, or even served in a thimble!
The philosophy behind this is that wine is just a part of a family meal together, so why not share it with the whole family? As such, it’s more like a ceremonial beverage or ritual, and it teaches the kids from an early age how that local wine pairs with food. The wine is introduced a safe environment, enjoyed, and talked about.
Of course, do what you feel comfortable with when you’re traveling with your teens in Europe. They can still take a tour of the winery with you — and learn just how that wine is made — but they can always forgo the sip of wine at the end of the tour. Then again, as they say, ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do.’
By Liz Hall
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