New law allows California students to taste wine

Stefanie Botelho's picture

College students under the age of 21 will be allowed to drink alcohol in class, as long as they're enrolled in a beer brewing or winemaking program and they refrain from swallowing, under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The so-called sip and spit law, set to take effect next year, answers concern that some of the nation's leading enology and viniculture schools are missing a key element. While several states allow minors to sample their alcoholic coursework, California does not, even as the Golden State stands as one of the world's top wine and beer producers.

"Not being able to get started with tasting during school is a big handicap," said Andrew Waterhouse, a professor of enology at UC Davis, who testified in support of sip and spit at a hearing on the bill. "It's our job here to teach them these things."

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