We imagine our parents laughing while reading New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov’s article over whether or not to let his 16- and 17-year-old sons drink wine with dinner. He consults experts, some of whom tell him to give them sips, others who advise enforcing a strict no-alcohol policy until 21. (One even wishes the drinking age were 25!)
This was one issue that our parents never thought twice about, which is why, perhaps, Asimov’s hand-wringing seems a little silly. Alcohol was never forbidden; if we wanted a sip of something, we could have it. For as long as we can remember, we had our own wine glass at dinnertime — it was just a lot less full than the other glasses. We were never offered beer or cocktails until we were 18 and had returned from college.
The other MenuPages editors had similar stories. MP: Boston’s Leila was allowed a glass of wine with dinner throughout her teenaged years. Adam of MP: San Francisco was still in elementary school when he started taking sips from his parents’ cups, although he didn’t begin drinking wine or beer with dinner until he was 18. Neal of MP: Philadelphia was 14 when he was allowed a glass of wine on holidays and special occasions, and Adam of MP: Chicago wasn’t all that interested in wine when he was first offered it at 14 or 15, but by 17 he was drinking wine with dinner and by 20 was sharing scotch with his parents.
So it’s not exactly a representative sample, but it’s telling that none of us has had any real drinking problems. Sure, we all drank more than we should have in college (didn’t everyone?), but there are no stomach-pumping incidents or DUIs to report. Just a few bad hangovers. Which makes us think that Asimov should just chill out and let his kids have a glass of wine.