New California law lets underage students taste alcohol

"Not being able to get started with tasting during school is a big handicap," testified enology professor.
By Matt Bradwell   |   July 28, 2014 at 4:02 PM
| License Photo

SACRAMENTO, July 28 (UPI) -- Underage college students in California enrolled in beer brewing or winemaking classes are now legally allowed to drink alcohol during lessons, provided they spit it out after sampling.

On Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed what's come to be known as the sip and spit law, allowing students at the nation's top enology and viniculture schools to taste alcoholic beverages as part of their culinary curriculum.

"Not being able to get started with tasting during school is a big handicap," testified University of California professor of enology Andrew Waterhouse. "It's our job here to teach them these things."

According to Waterhouse and supporters of the bill, brewing and winemaking programs were handcuffed by the legal drinking age, forcing them to schedule tasting classes for a student's final semesters, when he or she is likely over 21.

Additionally, as these courses popularity increased with each new class, professors faced a greater and greater risk of incurring criminal charges when students simply wanted to taste their work.

According to the new law, students between 18 and 20 years old may taste alcohol under the supervision of an instructor exclusively "for educational purposes as part of the instruction in a course."

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