Bill would ease alcohol tasting for some students

(photo: John Stumbos/UC Davis)
(photo: John Stumbos/UC Davis)

Allowing underage students to taste (not drink) wine or beer as part of coursework.

March 11, 2014
(from NBC Bay Area)

The University of California supports proposed legislation that would make it legal for certain minor students to taste wine or beer as part of their winemaking or brewing training. 

“The tasting process is how winemakers do quality control day-to-day,” said UC Davis professor and wine chemist Andrew Waterhouse in an interview with NBC Bay Area. “So if you don’t have the experience of what wine tastes like as it’s being made, then you’re completely missing a critical skill, which you then have to learn on the job.”

It is illegal under current state law to give an alcoholic beverage to someone under 21.

(photo: John Stumbos/UC Davis)

However, a new bill (AB 1989) proposed by Assemblymen Wesley Chesbro, D-North Coast, would permit “qualified” students at academic institutions in California to taste—but not consume—wine or beer for those learning the craft. An adult would still need to be present.

The University of California administration supports the legislation. “The sensory skills that come from tasting wine and beer specimens are critical to a full understanding of the science being advanced in classes,” said UC spokeswoman Brooke Converse. “This bill is a modest measure that allows students to receive the best advantage and preparation from their training.”

(Read the full NBC Bay Area story by reporter Sam Brock, February 27, 2014.)

Media contact:
•    Andrew Waterhouse, Department of Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis, 530-752-4777,

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis, contact:
•    Ann Filmer, Senior Director of Communications, 530-754-6788,