Recently, the British wine magazine Decanter reported on an initiative by the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (CIVB) to teach young kids (ages 6 to 10 or 11) the rudiments of winemaking and viticulture through a voluntary program called La Gironde Verte. They’ll visit vineyards, learn how wine is made, taste the grapes, tour the cellar and interview the winemaker.
There’s even a textbook involved: “Mon Cahier des Vignes” (My Vine Workbook.) You can see it online -—in French, of course, but with charming graphics, maps and illustrations.
In the article by Jane Anson, CIVB President Georges Haushalter is quoted as saying, ”Our objective is to protect the heritage of our region, while promoting an understanding of the civilisation of wine.”
That sounds sensible to me. It’s a way to involve kids in something that’s very much a part of the landscape where they’re growing up. And why not? In France, I doubt there will be much backlash. But here? Who knows what would happen?
I remember years ago Marimar Torres of Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma had the idea to translate a comic book about the history of wine her family was using at their winery in Spain. It was a great way to engage kids and keep them from being bored while their parents visited the estate. Well, she never imagined the kerfuffle this little comic book would cause in California. She had to stop using it.
It was very well done, and simply told the story of wine and how it was made. So what was the big fuss?
In France, like Spain, wine is an integral part of the table. It’s rarely drunk outside of meals or purely for the alcohol buzz. Children are encouraged to sniff the wine and describe the smells, just as they’re encouraged to get acquainted with cheese. And when they get a little older, they might be allowed a half glass of watered wine with Sunday lunch.
I think French parents are onto something. When wine is not forbidden, and when drinking it is not a transgression, it’s no longer as exciting, maybe it even becomes kind of boring. And that encourages responsible drinking.