SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday that would permit managers of restaurants and high-end hotels to sample wine and spirits at events overseen by state alcohol regulators.
An amended version of SB119, sponsored by Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake, moves to the Utah House for further consideration.
The bill requires industry representatives to pay the cost of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control staff who oversee the tastings. The tastings could occur at state liquor stores, state package agencies or trade shows.
The wine or spirits would be paired with food, Romero said. Tasters would "swish" the beverages as they sampled them, he said.
Some wine and spirits can cost more than $100 a bottle, so purchasers want good information about the products they buy, Romero explained.
Utah is one of two states that has not allowed sampling by businesses that purchase alcohol for resale.
"Industry representatives believe this is a workable solution," Romero said.
Both Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, who is sponsoring legislation to reform DABC, and Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, who opposes any policy changes that could increase alcohol consumption, complimented Romero for working with many stakeholders to address initial concerns about the bill.
"I feel like I can support it," Valentine said.