Campus News

First wine-tasting lab built at UH

More often local grocery stores have a wide selection of red wine–full bodied, robust and sophisticated beverages. If you’ve ever planned a romantic evening, you know how it feels to stare blankly at these wine terms and pretend to know what they actually mean.

The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management debuted a $750,000 facility that will help students decode wine terminology and develop a taste for finer drinks Monday.

“Wine is a very difficult product to learn about,” said Director of the Beverage Management Program and Fred Parks Wine Cellar Chris Taylor. “Our hope and our plan is to help demystify wines so that people can become better consumers.”

The Spec’s Beverage and Food Appreciation lab seats up to 65 students and has individual sinks, natural light and back-lit white boards to evaluate a wine’s color. It also features gridded wine-holding stations so wines stay in the order it was sent.

Enrollment is open to all upperclassmen who meet the legal drinking age and are interested in studying beverage management. Taylor said the course can benefit not only student who plan to sell wine, but also students dining in the business world.

“The United States of America for the first time ever is the largest consumer of wine in the world,” Taylor said. “The millennial generation has really picked up an affinity towards wine.”

Those students looking to join the class for a quick buzz are out of luck. Safeguards have been put into place to ensure that the class maintains professional integrity.

Students are encouraged to uphold a professional attitude throughout the class and spit out their wine, instead of swallowing it. Six different wines will be sampled during the class, but students will essentially drink no more than eight ounces of wine.

“There is no possibility (students) can become intoxicated during the wine lab,” Taylor said.

According to the college, the lab was constructed in response to the increasing need for beverage management skills throughout the hospitality industry, including hotels and restaurants to events and cruise lines.

“Wine sells continue to grow. They continue to be a huge part of the restaurant industry in terms of profits,” said Taylor.

Taylor said that students can look forward to a beer and wine production lab being available next summer. The production component will further distinguish UH from other industry related programs in the nation.

Director of Fred Parks Wine Outreach Programs Kevin S. Simon, who has more than 35 years experience in wine sales, will be teaching the course, in addition to Taylor, who has published esteemed articles on the topic in industry journals.

The curriculum for the lecture is an expansion of the wine appreciation program at the Culinary Institute of America in Nappa Valley, California.

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