If you take a look at various countries around the world, you’ll see that each one has its own laws in place when it comes to when you can start drinking alcohol.
Take the UK as an example. In that country, you have to wait until you’re 18 before you can start drinking any alcoholic beverages. The United States is often even stricter. Many of the states in that country won’t allow people to buy alcohol until they’re 21 years of age.
Italy has slightly more relaxed rules. While it’s illegal for vendors to sell alcohol to people below the age of 18, it is legal to enjoy a drink of wine with a meal from ages 16 and up. In fact, 16 and 17 year olds can even order a single glass of wine with a meal from a restaurant. Of course, they also have to ensure that they don’t allow this person to drink more than a single glass.
France is even more relaxed. While you still have to be 18 years old if you want to buy any hard liquors, you can buy beer and wine in France when you’re 16 years old. Finally, you have Spain. The legal drinking age in that country is 16. Moreover, those below the age of 16 can drink beer and wine, assuming that they’re accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
So, what’s the point that we’re making with all of this information?
The fact is that there’s a lot of disagreement when it comes to the best age to start drinking alcohol or Italian wine. Some countries take a slightly more relaxed approach, whereas others are extremely strict to the point where they don’t allow people to drink until they reach full adulthood. In the United States, you’re able to vote three years before you can drink in most states.
That brings us to a key question.
What is the recommended age for starting to drink Italian wine?
Before we discuss the issues we’re going to raise in the article, we feel it’s important to offer a disclaimer.
You should always follow the laws of your own country when it comes to alcohol consumption. While we may make a case for people being allowed to drink during their teens in this article, that doesn’t mean that you should immediately head out and start buying wine if you’re currently underage.
Finally, as always, anybody who drinks should do so responsibly.
Should The Legal Drinking Ages Be Lowered?
Let’s jump straight into the most important question.
In light of seeing some of the strict restrictions in play, is it wise to allow teenagers to drink?
It’s allowed in many European countries, with Spain being so relaxed that people under the age of 16 can legally drink as long as they have the correct supervision.
But to look at this properly, we need to examine how teenagers drink.
And that’s the key point. Teenagers do drink. Even in countries that have tight restrictions on the sale of alcohol to minors, the average age of a person when they have their first drink tends to be around 13 or 14. Many people start drinking even younger than that.
In this respect, alcohol is much like sex. Though many countries have restrictions in place and try to discourage teenagers from having sex, many will experiment long before they reach the legal age.
The same goes for alcohol. In fact, by placing restrictions on it, you almost turn it into a forbidden fruit that makes it even more alluring for younger people.
The Issues That a High Age Restriction Might Cause
There’s an argument to be made that banning teenagers from drinking alcohol may actually give rise to more irresponsible behaviour.
Those who want to drink will usually find ways to do so. At worst, this could result in them stealing alcohol or using fraudulent means to get their hands on it.
They then have to drink unsupervised, otherwise they’d get taught. As a result, they have nobody watching over them to ensure they don’t overindulge.
You could argue that lowering the legal drinking age so that it’s similar to the policy that Spain implements would pave the way for parents to feel more comfortable about introducing their children to alcohol without feeling like they’re breaking the law. It’s possible that this increased supervision will foster a more respectful view of alcohol that helps younger people to understand the consequences of drinking to excess. Perhaps it’s possible that lowering the drinking age would result in less crime, such as vandalism, from young people who are experimenting.
After all, it certainly doesn’t seem like Spain experiences more alcohol-related issues than any other country, despite having a lower drinking age.
The Argument Against
Of course, you can also make the argument that younger people are perhaps more rash and prone to making impulsive decisions. Lowering the legal drinking age could result in bad situations, particularly in countries that have binge drinking cultures.
The United Kingdom can occasionally offer an example of this type of culture. Many young people drink with the intention of getting drunk, rather than appreciating the drink itself. It’s possible that a lower legal drinking age could exacerbate this problem.
Perhaps the most serious potential risk is that drinking at a younger age could lead to more serious drinking later one. This may be remedied with supervised consumption, but younger people being able to buy alcohol without supervision could lead to later issues.
The Final Word
There doesn’t appear to be an easy answer to this question. On one hand, there’s a definite argument to make that supervision allows teenager to drink wine and experiment with other alcoholic drinks without taking things too far.
On the other, lowering legal age limits to allow teenagers to buy alcohol with no restrictions could lead to serious issues.
Perhaps the best answer is to gauge the situation for yourself. If you feel your teenager is ready to enjoy a glass of wine or two, you may feel comfortable allowing them to drink under supervision.
What we will say is that it’s unwise to allow children to drink before they reach their teens. Even when they are older, it’s perhaps best to wait until they show a level of maturity that suggests they can handle drinking a glass of wine.