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alcohol and teens in Europe

Im unable to find much RECENT information on this forum regarding laws about teens and alcohol in Europe. We are traveling with RS on the 14 day Best of Europe tour with our 16 and 19 year olds. Knowing that the 19yo is of age, we'd love for the 16yo to enjoy a glass of French or Italian wine with dinner or a German beer in a beer garden etc. but want to follow the expectations of the various cafes and restaurants. Does anyone have experiences they'd like to share about their teens and this topic?

Posted by
16751 posts

AFAIK, 16 is fine for wine and beer in France, and Germany. Given parents are with them, wouldn't give it a second thought

Posted by
3261 posts

Your 16 year old can legally drink beer and wine in France and Germany. You have to be 18 to drink spirits.

Posted by
8889 posts

In France the drinking age is 18 (changed in 2009).
In Germany the minimum age for wine and beer is 16. Spirits is 18. So Schnapps only for the 19-year-old.

For other countries in Europe, there is a summary here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_drinking_age#Europe
Some countries (e.g. the UK) have a lower limit if served as part of a meal and accompanied by an adult.

Posted by
7205 posts

European cafes/restaurants are not nearly as uptight and restrictive about beer and wine...and the "evils" of alcohol. Just let your 16 year old order a glass of wine, or you could just order a bottle for your table.

Posted by
4656 posts

You'll (they'll) be fine. As long as adults are present you'll have no issues with a 16 year old consuming wine or beer.

Posted by
5121 posts

Tim, I don't characterize US restaurants as "uptight" and "restrictive." They are simply following the law. I would expect nothing less.

Posted by
8104 posts

In Germany, parents can order drinks for their children as they wish; otherwise it is beer and wine for 16 and over, all other alcohol is legal with 18 and older.

Posted by
4535 posts

Tim, I don't characterize US restaurants as "uptight" and
"restrictive." They are simply following the law. I would expect
nothing less.

Perhaps the more accurate statement would have been "European governments are not as uptight and restrictive about alcohol as in the US, where many restaurants are so paranoid about running afoul of strict laws they they card people with grey hair or using walkers"...

Posted by
10 posts

In the early 2000s, my parents ordered wine and cider for my brother and I (10 & 12) at restaurants in France and nobody blinked an eye. When I went to Italy when I was 19, they served kids who looked much younger than me at bars - fifteen or sixteen - and we were there with no adults! I don't remember being asked for my identification as I was clearly old enough to drink at that time, but the younger kids might have been asked... It's very laisez-faire!

Posted by
4656 posts

I don't remember being asked for my identification as I was clearly old enough to drink at that time,

In Texas, aged 40 years, I would have assumed that ID would not be required. Sadly, at some venues, this wasn't the case.

Posted by
408 posts

Hi we were on this tour when my son was 18 and my daughter was turning 15. My son did have some beer/wine on the trip at that time he was a runner so not very interested. . My daughter did not. I asked if she wanted to taste beer/wine & she didn't want to. I don't think anyone will care or notice if they do as long as you are with them & probably won't care if you aren't.

Posted by
103 posts

In Texas, aged 40 years, I would have assumed that ID would not be required. Sadly, at some venues, this wasn't the case.

JC - In many places in the US, the law states that you must have your ID to be served alcohol. Doesn't matter how old you are. If the server, or venue, gets caught not asking, they can be fired, or closed. Some places are more likely to ask than others, and sometimes the word is out that the inspectors have been out lately checking out places.

When asked, I always say 'thanks, at my age it's a compliment'. I don't want anyone to lose their job over it.

Posted by
4656 posts

This was just to get into the venue, I could have been a tea totaller for all he was concerned. Where does pragmatism come into play?