While traveling in Spain with your children or teens, don't be surprised if you spot their peers sipping a vino or cava. Maybe it is a few sips from mom or dad's glass. Maybe it is a finger of wine in a glass of La Casera (soda water). Or maybe it is a bottle that is just their size that delights them.* Either way, it is clear that wine does not carry the same taboo for the young set that it does in the United States.
In Spain, wine is not viewed as an alcoholic beverage, it is an essential part of the meal. In fact for this reason, wine and cava are not taxed in the same manner as hard liquor. Wine is food. Wine is part of the culture. The family meal is an important cultural ritual. Children are included at the table whether at home or in a restaurant. Of course, they wouldn't be left out of a sip of vino.
Don't get the wrong idea, if you are an American reading this with your jaw on the floor. Young Spanish children are not tossing back bottles of wine. The legal drinking age in Spain is 16 years old. However, from a young age the Spanish are taught to appreciate wine as a complement to the meal, not as a tool for getting drunk. According to this article, in Spain you can even find wine education activities for children at local wineries!
* The black and white vintage advertisement at the top of the post is for miniature cava bottles with the brand name Benjamin. In Spanish, the youngest of the children is called "el Benjamin." To all those models that think they started the trend of mini bubbly bottles sipped with straws, Spanish kids were the true trendsetters. The ad copy reads more or less: "The champagne that children rejoice... because they see the bottles are suited to them and they like the fine tickling (I am assuming this is a reference to bubbly). A delicious champagne, to drink with delight and open the appetite. The small bottle for one or two. If for children, always for two or to drink twice (meaning 1/2 a bottle at a time)."
This post is part of the Lonely Planet Blogsherpa's blog carnival hosted by The Silent I , a blog about family travel adventures. This series on traveling with children ranges from tips on how better to travel with children to how children are treated in different countries. The previous Blogsherpa blog carnival was hosted by Ginger Beirut and covered red tape incidents while traveling abroad. The next blog carnival will be hosted by The Brink of Something Else in approximately two weeks.