Until recently, California enology and viticulture students under the age of 21 had to use their imagination when it came to wine and beer tasting. But earlier this summer, on July 28, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law what has become known as the “Sip and Spit” law, which allows students in accredited wine-making or beer-making courses to taste wine and beer, so long as they spit it out after tasting.

At UC Davis, one of the nation’s top viticulture and enology programs, wine production classes have gone without the ability to sample the beverage as it evolves. The university, and others with similar programs, have been forced to hold off on offering tasting classes until the student’s final semester, when he or she is likely to be at the legal drinking age of 21.

Now, students can experience firsthand the evolution of flavors in a wine as it goes from vine to table. Proponents of the law hope that by removing the legal obstacle which may deter some aspiring young vintners, the already robust and high volume levels of wine production in California will continue to grow, and to attract a younger, hipper audience.

With schools across the nation starting their fall sessions, the first potential crop of students to enjoy the limited exception the law provides is no doubt excited for the opportunity to explore this new aspect of their education.


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