A recent report from the children’s charity 4Children painted an alarming picture of the overuse of alcohol (among other drugs) by parents, including a headline figure saying that 22 per cent of children grow up with parents who drink “hazardously”. I read the full report and couldn’t find a definition of “hazardous”, but am willing to give the report the benefit of the doubt.
At least, up to a point. The report shows proper concern about people who drink excessively but doesn’t seem to make allowances for people who regard an evening glass of wine as a well-deserved way of separating child-time from grown-up time.
The report is especially concerned about the effects of drinking when children are present, but the blanket condemnation is unduly alarmist. Responsible drinkers pass on a lesson to their children about what alcohol is for. A wine-loving friend of mine, who always drank wine with dinner, made it a policy always to leave some wine in his glass so his son would see that with wine, unlike food, you don’t need to clean your plate.
When used wisely, alcohol does not get in the way of living a healthy life. It can be part of a healthy life, and children should, within reason, learn how to do it from their parents.
So, enough sermonising. What to drink, in moderation, now that cold weather is well and truly with us? I have three ideas. One is a beautiful Spaniard from the ever-improving Yecla region of south-eastern Spain — Casa Carmela 2010 (Waitrose, £7.49). The grape variety is monastrell (mourvèdre in France), and the wine has an abundance of richly spicy fruit and generous tannins to complement your braised beef or lamb.
Second, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Faugères 2010 (£7.99), an unoaked example of this Languedoc AOC with notably pure and expressive red-berry fruit. And finally, Harvey Nichols Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhône Villages 2008 (£13, available at their seven stores and online). No superlative is too grandiose for this huge but perfectly balanced beauty, with good maturity but potential for further ageing.
Drink all of them in moderation, regardless of where your children are.