The UK Department of Health will this Thursday issue a series of new guidelines for parents on the risks for young people who drink alcohol.

It is thought that the advice, to be backed by chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, will offer guidance to parents about letting their children try alcohol at home, and specifically recommend that children under 15 should not be drinking.

The news follows claims by the Government that around seven million middle-class drinkers are putting their health at risk by enjoying evenings at home with a bottle of wine.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "The Government wants to provide clearer health information for parents and young people on alcohol consumption. The Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, will soon be announcing a new set of guidance on children, young people and alcohol, having reviewed the latest medical evidence."

just-drinks understands from sources familiar with the situation that an announcement will be made on Thursday by health secretary Alan Johnson.

Government research has suggested that many children have already been exposed to alcohol at home by the age of seven, and that while the number of young people who regularly drink has fallen to around 21% of 11 to 15-year-olds, those who do consume alcohol do so far more often than in the past.

The Whitehall plans are also understood to include a requirement on bars and off-licences to request ID off anybody looking under 21. Retailers will also be subjected to a 'two-strikes' rule on selling alcohol to children.

Gavin Partington, of the Wine & Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), said that children should be taught about the risks of alcohol as well as the enjoyment of it when they are old enough to drink it.

"It will be very helpful for the information to be provided for both parents and young people but I think it shows much more education is needed," he said. "What is required is a segment in the curriculum on the consumption of alcohol. You could make an argument for it to be introduced well before the age of 15."