Having proved that light to moderate drinking during pregnancy has no detrimental effect on the foetus, doctors now also believe that a mother’s occasional glass of wine can help her unborn child develop a sophisticated wine-tasting palate which will stand them in good stead in later life.
‘Our research showed that as little as 12 weeks into pregnancy, the alcohol recognition skills of the average British foetus far outstrip those of its counterparts on the continent,’ said Professor Stanley Langthorne who published his findings in a report entitled ‘Drink Till You Drop’. ‘These home-grown embryos are already in a position to suss whether they are being given cheap own-brand ‘Riesling’ from Asda or an authentic vintage Merlot.’
The findings are based on a long-term experiment in which foetuses were separated into groups and plied – via their mothers – with alcohol of varying quality and strength. Group A were given a perky Sauvignon purchased from a local independent wine retailer able to offer advice on acidity and soil; Group B were given a £3.99 Blossom Hill Chardonnay from the off licence that came with a watercolour of a vineyard on the label and the instruction ‘Serve with Fish’; and Group C was a ‘control’, meaning the embryos went a full nine months without a drink.
‘The results were staggering,’ said Professor Langthorne. ‘Those in Group A appeared relaxed and contemplative, with one baby even appearing to give a thumbs-up to the monitor, whereas foetuses in Group B became agitated and frequently indulged in mock-fighting with an imaginary assailant, pausing only to vomit into the amniotic sac. Those in Group C just looked bored.’
Follow-up observations made many years later merely confirmed these characteristics. ‘The babies in Group A grew up to throw dinner parties which rarely included the kind of people in Group B, while the children of teetotallers invariably found themselves ill-equipped to deal with the challenges that come with drinking, such as initiating a dispute in a taxi-rank or coming on to your sister-in-law. Group B took all those things in their stride until they fell into a bush shortly afterwards.’
The study has received a warm welcome from many thirsty middle-class mothers. ‘I’ve known all along that the odd bottle of wine wouldn’t do my little darling any harm,’ said Tamsin Forsdike. ‘And as I kept telling doctors, it all depends what you mean by light to moderate drinking. I’m just so relieved my cravings for Chenin Blanc mean our Amy has grown up to drink Pinot Grigio in the park, and not those hideous alcopops like the rest of her Brownie group.’