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Italy Wants to Give Six-Year-Olds Lessons in Wine

Italian senator Dario Stefano has submitted a draft bill to parliament proposing that schoolchildren aged six to 13 take a one-hour lesson in wine culture and history every week.

by Phoebe Hurst
Apr 5 2016, 12:20pm

Photo via Flickr user Ralf Smallkaa

What was your favourite subject at school? Art because you got to play with PVA glue? English lessons spent doodling your crush's name on The Tempest or chemistry classes pretending to distill water but really just messing about with a Bunsen burger? Maybe you were one of the weird kids who actually enjoyed double maths on a Friday afternoon.

Schoolchildren in Italy may soon have a new fave lesson to highlight on their timetables: wine.

That's if Dario Stefano has his way. Last month, the Italian senator submitted a draft bill to parliament proposing that children aged six to 13 take lessons in wine at school, learning about its place in Italian culture.

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Stefano explained: "Italy is now the biggest wine producer in the world, it is our history and we should be happy and proud to teach our children about it. Lessons would cover the history and culture of winemaking. Every Italian region makes wine so it is one thing that unifies us."

The bill proposes that schoolchildren take a one hour lesson in wine every week and is supported by Attilio Scienza, a professor of wine culture at the University of Milan.

Scienza said: "Families have lost the habit of drinking wine together. Let's put wine back in homes, and into schools, because you don't drink to get drunk, it is the origin of our identity."

Putting wine into primary schools may sound like a recipe for vomit-splattered disaster but kids on the scheme don't actually get to taste any of the stuff. They won't be taught how to chug a bottle of bad chardonnay on the night bus or identify the least vinegar-like six quid bottle from the offie, either. A pilot scheme currently running at schools in Bresica, northern Italy teaches children about winemaking in Greek and Roman times, as well as the role of the drink in Italian opera.

Supporters of the bill hope this grounding in Italian wine heritage will promote a healthy attitude towards alcohol and may even inspire some students to take up a career in viticulture.

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Vito Intini, a wine taster leading the Bresica initiative explained: "We teach how wine, along with bread and olive oil, is central to the Italian diet. We are not promoting wine sales, we just want to link wine and culture."

While the benefits introducing children to alcohol in the home have been debated, Attilio says that similar wine education schemes in French schools have actually cut down on binge drinking.

No word yet on whether British educational boards will follow suit and introduce mixing gin and tonics to the UK's primary school curriculum.