Social life for students doesn't have to revolve around beer. Wine can be an affordable, and enjoyable treat.

So, how did the exam results go? The last few weeks have been traumatic for anyone with teenagers in the house.  A rollercoaster of hopes, worries and fears brought on by exams have, in many cases, been transformed into results and plans of action.  To most parents it will have come as a surprise that, despite all appearances, the students who usually clutter up the sofa and bathroom have actually been working and managed to achieve decent grades after all.

If your A level student has hit their target grades to get to their college of choice then there is much to do.  A place to live, a set of pans and at least 4 coffee mugs are the bare essentials. The idea behind having lots of mugs is to build friendships over coffee and with that in mind, your student should be packed off with some wine glasses too.

Apparently university bars are closing down because students are so weighed down with debt and pressure of work that they have given up on alcohol. If this means that the classic ‘boat races’ of beer, or lines of shots are dying out, that is great news, but there is another approach.  Instead of totally abstaining from alcohol several students can share a bottle of wine, preferably over a Friday night lasagne. This will help build friendship groups without overloading on booze.

For this they will need a set of cheap supermarket glasses which will probably get broken on a regular basis.  They also need a good corkscrew. Despite the proliferation of screw caps, some great value wines come with a cork and if your student wants to impress the girl/bloke down the corridor, then competence with a corkscrew could help. If you haven’t already trained your offspring how to open a bottle of sparkling wine, then now is the time for emergency lessons.  Show them to twist the bottle not the cork, and never by pushing the cork out so it shoots in the air. There seems to be a growing habit of young people attempting sabrage on sparkling wine, when they let the end of the bottle fly off with the tap of a kitchen knife.  This only works on heavy champagne bottles, not on lightweight Prosecco ones, and it is a dangerous activity, not only for the person opening the bottle, but also for onlookers.

Once the bottle is open, your student needs to know that they can get six decent glasses of wine from one bottle, but only if they fill the glasses one-third to half full, and not to the brim.

A little knowledge about wine helps so once you have tackled your student’s need for survival cooking lessons, and introduced them to the workings of a washing machine, maybe it is time to teach them some simple aspects of wine.

First of all, encourage them to read the label.  They may have mastered exam papers but they probably have never read a back label. Get them to notice the alcohol level on a bottle of wine can be as low as 11% but may be as high as 15%. The difference this makes in terms of alcoholic effect is drastic.

Now comes the tricky bit – show them how to drink.  Start by swirling the glass and sticking your nose in to smell the aroma.  They will laugh at this stage but with a bit of practice they will get the hang of it and in time you may notice that there is a slight hesitation between getting a glass of wine in their hands and knocking it back.  This is the start of building a wine tasting vocabulary.  They won’t immediately start using terms like ‘red berry fruits and forest floors’, but they will start to notice the differences between basic wine flavours.

Formal wine knowledge in the shape of a wine course may help in several ways.  The Wine and Spirited Education Trust (WSET) has been running courses for 50 years and globally it is is the recognised way to learn about wine in a structured way. Over 400,000 people have passed their exams which range from gaining simple basic knowledge to wine trade professional.  Try to catch a level 1 course ( to learn the basics that will not only assist with the Friday night choice of wine, but could also help land a good weekend job in a local restaurant.

Most universities have wine societies and once your student gets past the idea that this is just a collection of bores talking about Bordeaux there is probably a lot of fun to be had at wine tasting evenings.  Some serious wine business careers have been cultivated at university, and wine companies are always interested in showing off their wares to students who one day will have paid off their loans and be in the business of buying good wine.

In time most students end up giving small dinner parties in their shared flats and this is where the bank of Mum and Dad can be a real help.  Instead of letting them spend their meagre allowance on supermarket cheapies, why not join a wine club such as The Yorkshire Post Wine Club, or The Wine Society ( and send the impoverished students an occasional case of wine?  These come with tasting notes and the arrival of a new selection box of wine could trigger a social gathering over a plate of pasta or chicken casserole.

But it isn’t just the students who need the occasional glass of wine. Mums might find the whole empty nest syndrome difficult to cope with, so if you find yourself sitting in a strangely tidy and quiet room which used to throb with music and dirty washing, then grab a glass of wine and a travel brochure and start planning your own gap year.

Here are a few suggestions for student drinking.

Beronia Rueda Verdejo, Spain, Waitrose down from £8.99 to £6.74 until 22 September

Light, fresh lemon notes with a hint of chicory bitterness on the finish.

Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Australia, Asda, down from £7 to £6 until 11 September

Ripe damson fruit with hints of black pepper.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir, Chile, Sainsbury, down from £7 to £6.50 until 10 September

Easy drinking, juicy cherry fruit.

About The Author

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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