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Does Republican Val Peterson know how to make wine?

by Jesse Fruhwirth
- Posted // 2011-02-02 -

Only in Utah? A bill in the Utah legislature would ban selling to minors the ingredients to make liquor as if they already were. It's unclear if that means grapes, yeast and potatoes will have to go behind a Zion curtain like wine, beer and vodka.

Update: Feb. 3, 2010, 10 AM: Got a voicemail from Rep. Val Peterson on my phone this morning. In it, he said, "I definitely am not trying to stall the sale of grapes," he said. But, he acknowledges the language of the bill needs some work. "I am trying to narrow the bill down. It's really targeted toward drinks like Spike Your Juice (see below) and ... I'm working to limit the scope of the language."

First, caveats.

I suspect that Rep. Val L. Peterson, R-Orem, is intending to regulate the sale of products like those sold by the Beer Nut; you know, home-brew kits and what not. I sent him an e-mail, and I'll update when he responds. Until then, City Weekly staff writer Eric S. Peterson (no relation) wisely suggests that Rep. Peterson may be trying to regulate only stuff like Spike Your Juice, a product featured in KSL's "hey teens, here's a new way to get f-ed up" series back in November (see the bottom of the post).

Rep. Peterson may not be aware, however, that when Utah legalized home brewing in 2009, they simultaneously banned minors from the activity, making it a class B misdemeanor to home brew before you are 21. Jamie Burnham, manager at the Beer Nut, hadn't yet heard of Peterson's HB85, and didn't know what to make of the proposal to regulate the sales of ingredients of alcohol, which are common commodities, from potatoes and corn to agave and juniper berries.

But Petererson's bill goes after the retailers selling the products, not the conduct of the teens making alcohol.

Here's the language the bill proposes:

32B-4-403 Unlawful sale, offer for sale, or furnishing to minor.
(1) (a) A person may not sell, offer for sale, or furnish an alcoholic product to a minor.
(b) A person may not sell, offer for sale, or furnish a product to a minor that:

(i) contains, within packaging, such as a carton, case, or other wrapper, the ingredients necessary to:
(A) make an alcoholic product; or
(B) cause a liquid that is not an alcoholic product to become an alcoholic product; and
(ii) the person who sells, offers for sale, or furnishes the product knows can be used to:
(A) make an alcoholic product;
(B) cause a liquid that is not an alcoholic product to become an alcoholic product.

If the bill were implemented as written, the penalties would be class A or class B misdemeanors, just like for alcohol that's already alcohol.

A Zion curtain in the produce aisle seems unlikely, but this is Utah, where we still can't have "normal" beer in kegs, and thus no "normal" beer on tap at bars, only 3.2 draft and everything else in bottles. So you never can be too sure.

To check the bill's status or read the entire thing, go to

And now, behold, another obscure, exotic product that causes intoxication that kids first learned about from KSL:

Video Courtesy of

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Posted // February 3,2011 at 10:55

Back a ways, when I was growing up in Cottonwood Heights, we learned how to make Dandelion Wine in a Mason jar. I was 12 years old. The dandelions were from my yard. I'd like to see them ban Dandelions. And in Utah, try banning or regulating refined sugar, one of D Wine's main ingredients.


Posted // February 4,2011 at 12:36 - Wish I'd had a friend like that. I had to learn about the evils of drinking by stealing my father's garage stash. He wasn't happy about that and said that if I wanted to drink his booze, the least I could do is share. Man, red wine mixed with whiskey - now there's a guaranteed headache! "See" you in a couple weeks, Mamba. I'm heading South.


Posted // February 4,2011 at 11:53 - No, it was with a 15 year old neighbor, a good friend. He and his family were French converts to "the church" and Utah and it was pretty innocent, sorta. It wasn't until an older cousin coaxed me into sneaking red wine and whiskey mixed together at my baptism party at the tender age of 11 that I learned what passing out was like. Damn.


Posted // February 3,2011 at 13:10 - The first wine I ever tasted -- even way before Boone's Farm -- was my uncle's dandelion wine. Little did I know where that would lead!


Posted // February 3,2011 at 11:08 - Bingo! You make that with your Grandad, Mamba? Like Douglas Spaulding in the book of the same name?


Posted // February 3,2011 at 10:25

Apparently, but not surprisingly as he is from Orem, Val Peterson is a genuine idiot.

Does this guy intend to regulate the sale of all fruit juices and whole fruits? Tubers? How about baking yeast? Honey? How about wild yeast? Or what about the natural yeast contained in my saliva?

Hey folks, you wanna get a good buzz on with stuff found in your own kitchen? Behold, the magic of science! Wash and pulverize some apples, any kind will do. Place the apples in a sterilized bucket (use a light bleach solution and cold water). Now take a bite of an apple, chew it up and spit that into the bucket (yes, really, but we're not talking lugies here, just spit from your mouth). Add a quart or so of water. Now cover the bucket with a towel or, better yet, with a vented lid. Do not seal the bucket or you'll have an explosion; the Co2 must be allow to escape. That's it. Allow the bucket to rest at room temperature in your closet for five to seven days or so. Strain the liquid from the pulp, add water to taste, and have at it.

If you want to avoid the whole spit thing, use apples freshly plucked from an untreated (no pesticides) tree. They're generally covered in wild yeast. This works with fresh grapes, tomatoes, strawberries, etc. Any damn thing that contains sugar will work and all you need to make alcohol is sugar, yeast (any yeast works but may impart funky flavors) and water - it's not difficult. Any fruit plucked fresh from the vine, etc, likely contains wild yeast. Enjoy.


Posted // February 4,2011 at 12:32 - As an aside, it should be known that I stated Val must be an idiot because anybody with as much education as he has that would pursue such a stupid, idiotic, waste-of-time, waste-of-money bill when there are so many other important things to tackle must be an idiot.


Posted // February 3,2011 at 10:45 - You know, there's just so many ways to go with this one. Nobody needs this yeast packet thing, not at all. For a better quality yeast, all anybody needs to do is take a freshly emptied beer or wine bottle from a product that has not been pasteurized - it can't have dried out or the yeast cells may be dead. Once you've got that, make a simple syrup of 1 part sugar to 1 part water, boiled and cooled to room temp. Add the syrup to the bottle, place a balloon over the bottle top, place the bottle in your room temp closet and viola! You've just propagated your own yeast strain, the very same stuff that was used to make that bottle of beer or wine. Add that to whatever juice or pulverized fruit you like and zingpow! you've got yourself some alcohol.


Posted // February 3,2011 at 09:10

I'd also just add that water goes into making beer. Will H2O also be banned?


Posted // February 3,2011 at 10:09 - I think the plain language of the bill as it is currently written would put packaged water in a gray zone. Check out the update above where Peterson acknowledges that the bill's language may need to be narrowed.