Cultural Views On A First Taste Of Wine

This medium-bodied, smooth Bordeaux has beautiful black fruit PHOTO FROM ROBERTO VIERNES

This medium-bodied, smooth Bordeaux has beautiful black fruit PHOTO FROM ROBERTO VIERNES

Warning: This column contains instances of underage drinking. My son is 10 years old, and many of my friends have been asking me if he has tasted any wines yet.

That got me thinking about stories I have heard about vignerons, wine-making families, friends and acquaintances mentioning the first time they tasted wine either as a youngster themselves or having given wine to a child for their first taste.

Different cultures treat the consumption of alcohol differently, so the names of the people herein will remain anonymous.

When I am in France, many winemakers are happy to recount when they first gave their children a taste of wine.

One winemaker said that at each of their family’s baptisms, along with the blessing of the holy water on the child’s head, they ask the priest to dip his finger in a glass of their own wine and rub it on the lips or gums of the baby “so that they know their wine from a very young age.”

I hardly think the baby realizes what he or she tastes — in fact, it may cause a negative reaction that they remember for the rest of their lives!

Another vintner recalls that, when he was a child, every Sunday his family would get together for lunch and he would look forward to having just a thimbleful of wine.

As he grew, so did the size of the thimble. It is no wonder he became a winemaker.

A scene from the movie A Good Year with Russell Crowe, where the adults shared a little bit of wine with the children but watered it down, and as they grew older the amount of water dilution declined, apparently was not uncommon in France.

A friend of mine recalls how he was on vacation with his son one year, and he had opened a bottle of wine that night. So he brought his glass with him as he walked outside of the house to go hang out with his 14-year-old son who was on the porch.

He had shared tastes of wine with his son before, to his son’s distaste.

However, this time, his son said, “Hey, Dad, that’s pretty good!”

It was an $800 bottle of Grand Cru Burgundy — good taste runs in the family.

I have a buddy whose parents drank a lot of wine when he was growing up. They would buy cases of wine, not expensive wine, but everyday drinking wines. They were not connoisseurs but more avid consumers.

When he was in high school, he would sneak out a bottle, thinking his parents would not notice a single bottle missing. He would use the bottle for dates or just go get inebriated. Now, he rarely ever drinks.

When I was a child, the only wine I ever tasted was at Holy Communion. Back when it was allowed, I would dip my bread into the wine and then eat it. It was always red wine, and to me it tasted quite sour. I had no idea what type or brand of wine was used.

Who would ever imagine that I would end up being a sommelier?

Recommendations: 2013 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Blanc ($16) Chardonnay grown in Gamay country may seem strange, but this Chardonnay is amazingly refreshing and delicious. Vivacious orchard fruit explode from the glass with no new wood to obscure its fruitiness. It is light and not a wine for those who like buttery Chardonnays.

But if you are into easy drinking, caressing white wine, this is your thing.

It goes extremely well with scallops, shrimp and salads. You will find it at Fujioka’s Wine Times.

2010 B de Loudenne Bordeaux ($15) With an attractive pink label, this wine is worth more than just a look. It has beautiful black fruit ensconced with notes of cedar and baking spices. It is medium-bodied and smooth, mostly Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon making up the balance. Both of these wines overdeliver for the price. This is great with grilled burgers and prime rib.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier.
Twitter: @Pinotpusher