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11.30.2006

A Proper Education

Life is full of contradictions. Especially when it comes to bureaucrats and governments. Take France, for example. They have laws which prevent wine marketing associations from having advertisements that show a glass of wine too close to a beautiful woman's face, on the grounds that it is too sexually suggestive and to associate wine with sex might appeal to underage drinkers.

Yet at the same time, members of the French parliament are having discussions about whether they should start teaching schoolchildren about the virtues, culture, and aesthetics of wine drinking in order to improve the flagging interest in wine from the under-25 age bracket in that country.

I don't approve of the former practice, but I heartily endorse the latter. Can you imagine the furor that would be created if some member of the US congress got up and suggested that children be taught to appreciate wine? My goodness. I dare say that would be met with more outrage than.....well, certainly more than pornographic e-mails to congressional pages.

Perhaps one of these days, enough evidence will pile up about the health benefits of red wine that it might be mentioned in a home economics classroom somewhere in the United States. But who am I kidding? By the time that happens, home economics will have been replaced by Nintendo sponsored classes in video game strategy.

So wine education is going to have to start at home, folks. Do your part and raise a good wine drinker in your family. If not for me than for the French. They can use all the help they can get.

Read the full story.

Comments (6)

Ryan Opaz wrote:
12.01.06 at 3:16 AM

I agree fully and have witnessed it a lot here in Spain. For one my wife took her 5 year olds(she teaches at a private school) to the Torres winery to taste Mosto(grape juice) and to see the winery. Here's the story: http://catavino.net/archives/620/2006/10/31/

I also was there this week and watched the history of the winery in the Torres private cinema with about 30, 5-10 year olds. Turns out that kids make up a big percentage of the visitors to the Torres winery. Education of this type only helps kids to understand what is natural , as my wife points out in her story, by learning about wine they learn about food, science, history and much more!

Jim S wrote:
12.01.06 at 11:02 AM

Didn't France enact some pretty stringent drunk driving laws a short while back? A heard Kermit Lynch on Grape Radio complaining that the very low blood alcohol limit of .05% (lower than the U.S. of .08) was so rigorously enforced that many restaurant patrons are drinking wine much more infrequently when dining out. If this is the case, advocating the drinking of wine seems contradictory. What gives?

Jennier wrote:
12.01.06 at 11:42 AM

Just stopping by to say I love your blog! I've added you to my blogroll for daily reading pleasure.

*For the record - let's do start teaching wine appreciation at an early age. Is 4 too early?

Nate wrote:
12.03.06 at 1:58 PM

I agree with Alder, it is not the governments job, but the parents role to inform their children about both sex and wine.

Arthur wrote:
01.02.07 at 1:51 PM

As someone who grew up in Europe and then moved to the US, I see a very different CULTURE of drinking and alcohol in the US versus Europe. That applies to not only moral and cultural attitudes (and cultural and legal heritage in this country) towards alcoholic drinks in the public eye but also to how it is treated in the home and at the table. In that aspect, I agree, Alder, our legislators are being somewhat prudish. At the same time, our cultural attitudes would need a serious paradigm shift.
As a physician, I have long been toying with addressing the health benefits of wine on my web site but have held back. The problem is that we, in the US, tend to be a culture of excess and one wanting simple, quick fix-alls. The recommended 2 glasses of red wine a day (at 13% alcohol - on average in Europe) are not equivalent to drinking a bottle of 16% alcohol wine (say, a Santa Barbara County Syrah) between two people. That message has to be conveyed very strongly: there is a health benefit to the consumption of red wine but it has to be consumed in moderation. Yes, resveritrolt can reduce heart attack and stroke risk/incidence, offset onset of Alzheimers and maybe even help keep off a few pounds. However, the scientific data out there indicates that consumption of red wine is only a part of a whole lifestyle and it is not a panacea. In addition, one would have to consume a lot of it to get a significant effect. Those benefits should be weighed against the adverse effects of chronic consumption of large quantities of alcohol.
From a scientific angle, I am curious about the relationship of levels of resveritrol to tannin maturity. Does greater tannin maturity affect resveritrol levels? I say this because of the distinct difference in the way Californian wines are made. Many winemakers in California's central coast are now harvesting based on taste - when tannins are soft and potential alcohols are at 15%-15% - as opposed to harvesting when the grapes hit a specific sugar level. This is different from the European wines I drink (which also tend to have a firmer -? younger? -tannins). I cannot recall with certainty, but weren't a number of these recent studies (barring the epidemiologic studies which demonstrated the French Paradox) performed with European wines?
I'm urious to learn more.

Sondra wrote:
01.15.07 at 9:26 AM

I just read Gabriella's article in Catavino about teaching children about wine. How amazing to make the subject so rich for children, looking at vines, maturity, the whole winemaking process, engaging their minds and bodies. How many of us adults ever had such a rich education about wine bringing it into all of life? What an amazing change we could bring to education and wine to use her in-depth approach. Kudos! And Kudos for Vinography for so much interesting information. CHEERS

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