Sunday, October 1, 2023

Wine Appreciation: Students drink their way to an A


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Story by Alex Beecher // Staff Writer | Photo by Cat Murphy // Online Photo Editor

As students register for spring classes, a wine appreciation class may seem like a good way to blow of steam.

The course where students learn the fundamentals of all things wine applies to agribusiness and agriscience majors, but any student of legal drinking age can take advantage of the class as a general elective. In the class, students have the opportunity to taste 30 different wines and learn how to correctly judge them. The course also includes how to interpret wine labels and make informed purchasing decisions in an overwhelming liquor store.

“I have such a busy and stressful schedule. I took it as kind of a break from the rest of my classes. However, it has been a little more work than I thought,” said Lena Cline, a senior electronic media journalism major. “We have actually learned about wines and their qualities and (are) tested over our knowledge rather than it just being a class where you just sit and drink wine and talk about it.”

An affordable study abroad component is also offered to students, who can spend four to five days in Eastern Canada visiting wineries and soaking up Canadian culture. On one trip, students tasted 125 different wines.
“I haven’t had one student who comes back from a trip without it changing them,” said Tony Johnston,. an agribusiness and agriscience professor who teaches the course.

For Johnston, wine is a passion, and it should be appreciated the same way as art in a museum.

If you want to learn about wine, take the class. Before taking this class, I had no idea what a wine vacuum system was. You don’t have to be an expert to be part of a class. Plus, we’re always constantly learning which is great. I will introduce you to every major style of wine that is made,’ he said.

Johnston enjoys teaching his students how to take it easy and enjoy themselves while wine tasting. Some go as far as to get a wine sommelier set after these classes, so engrossed do they become in it.

“I get upset at people who race through their glass of wine. Slow down and enjoy life; you only get one. Don’t worry. Just enjoy it. Every bottle of wine is a piece of art,” he said.

Johnston said that no students have left his course without finding their favorite bottle. As an exercise early in the semester, he asks students to write down their favorite wine on a slip of paper and keep it until the end. Johnston said the majority of students change their minds after being exposed to so much variety.

“Overall I really enjoy the class,” Cline said. “I have learned how to properly enjoy wine and what good wine actually is. My new favorite wine is La Vieille Ferme. It’s a rose and a French wine.”

The course, listed as ABAS 2500 in the course catalog, is offered every semester. Priority registration for the spring semester started Nov. 8. and students are allowed to start registering for classes after their assigned time.

“At first I thought the wine appreciation class was going to he a simple elective where we taste wine and not much else,” said Jared Adams, senior political science major. “I quickly realized it ‘as much more than that. While there arc wine tastings almost weekly, the lessons Dr. Johnston teaches us arc much more holistic. Sense perception along with a new appreciation for the wine-making process are abound in this experiential course. I couldn’t have chosen a better elective course to finish off my final semcster.”

Emily West, editor-in-chief, contributed to this report.

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