The SOMM Journal

February / March 2017

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Page 16 of 116

16 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017 { one woman's view } Karen MacNeil is the author of The Wine Bible and editor of WineSpeed. You can reach her at IN NAPA VALLEY, WHERE I LIVE, most kids taste wine. I remember my own daughter—at four years old—sit - ting at the dinner table one night. She swirled her milk, sniffed it, smiled and said matter-of-factly: "Mama, slightly herbal character." But the subject of children and alco - hol is filled with controversy. Along with Iraq and Sri Lanka, the U.S. is one of only 12 countries that make kids wait until age 21 before they can legally drink. Recently, I decided to ask several people in the wine business whether they let their kids drink wine. Not sur - prisingly, the majority do. But for differ- ent reasons. For many, exposing their children to wine early is a way of mitigating abusive drinking later on. "My parents let me taste wine with them when I was very young," said Suzanne Groth, co-owner of Groth Vineyards in Napa Valley. "I was way more prepared for college than my idiot roommates, who had never had any experience with alcohol. With my 13- and ten-year-old children, I offer them a taste of anything they want to try. I also am a firm believer that every ten-year-old needs to learn how to open a bottle of wine properly." For others, letting children taste wine is about developing their palate. "My parents allowed us to taste wines at a young age, but at age 11, we were not big fans of my dad's preferred tan - nic Cabernets," said the wine writer Kort van Bronkhorst. "So when we were about 16, they started buying us cheap wine to drink—Gallo Hearty Burgundy. It tasted better with 7-Up. The result? Today we all like the big tannic Cabernets my father espoused. I used the same formula with my kids." For my part, I've always thought of wine as part of my daughter's sensory education. Wine has opened up her sensory world in the same way that lis - tening to music has. As a parent, I would never want to exclude her from that kind of learning. She's a teenager now and recently told me she isn't so interested in wine anymore. Instead, she says she wants to understand the different flavors of coffees and try a whole bunch of cheeses to know how cow cheeses differ from sheep cheeses. I suspect she'll have a lifetime of great flavor experiences. And I'm pretty sure it all began with a thimble-full of trockenbeerenauslese. SHOULD YOU GIVE YOUR KIDS WINE? by Karen MacNeil Suzanne Groth, age four, drinking wine with brother Andrew, age two, and father Dennis Groth. Baby Somm irst you stomp the grapes with your feet hen you have to get the squished grapes and ut them in the grinder hen you put it in a wine bottle and ut a cork so the wine won't spill hen you drink it. —five-year-old Audrey Jordan, daughter of Ehren Jordan, owner of Failla Wines in Sonoma WINE—A RECIPE

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