I don't like titles just because it holds you accountable for something more important. But this title is funny to me. Not funny in a joking way, but funny how life's road twists and turns and then you find yourself as an adjunct professor at a local college teaching students about wine, beer, etc. It's even funnier when my friends call me up during this holiday season and say, "so what's new? Still stocking wine bottles on shelves?"
"Yeah still stocking. Oh, I'm teaching at a local college. They call me Professor. And you're still doing what with your master's degree?"
That's funny... Never underestimate us bottom feeders, right Teddy Boy?
Any event...it's always a learning experience at any and all stages in life. My 10 year old who is only allowed to smell the wine can only relate it to so many things like say rootbeer, strawberries, oranges, blueberries, Cheerios etc. My original WINE101 grads are all 30's and up to 60 year olds, think about what they can relate to in their worldly travels, experiences and tastes. Now, take a group of 20 something college students and imagine what and how they can relate the smells and tastes of wine to. It's all a learning experience. The hardest part for me with this class is grading them. How do you grade someone when wine is so subjective? Needless to say its all about participation. If you come to class and at the very least engage in discussion about what you are smelling, tasting, etc then you're doing it right. As we begin to wrap up this semester, some of my students were unhappy with their participation grade and requested extra credit work. Here was my email response along with my extra credit suggestion...
"This goes out to everyone since someone made mention of it, so here's a freebie for those who want to take advantage of it. In return, if the assignment meets my criteria and standards then I will give you a perfect "10" for class participation.
With Turkey Day around the corner, much preparations go into the holiday festivities including the beverage selections. You all will be part of that since you are all wine/beer aficionados. You will demonstrate what you have learned in this class and put it to use. Impress your family, friends and make your professor proud.
#1. Pick out a wine/craft beer either by yourself or with family member. YOU pick this item out, not your family member. With what you learned in class, figure out what beverage will compliment your traditional holiday meal.
#2. Take a picture of the bottle on your holiday table next to the food. This is just proof that you did not just copy and paste something from the internet.
#3. Write a brief description of the wine/craft beer which should include:
A) name of wine/beer and style/varietal and vintage...some crAft beers have vintages on them
B) where it's from including regions, AVA, DOCG, AOC, DO, ETC for wines....beer will just be where it's from
C) very brief history of the brewery or vineyard
#4 tasting notes...break this down into 5 parts, in paragraph form NOT TASTING NOTE FORMS! 4 "S" format
A) SEE/SWIRL..when you pour into your glass what color, clarity, hazy, etc
B) SMELL.....self explanatory
C) SIP...take a sip and tell me what your tasting including the start and finish. Take a second sip this time with food and describe how it compliments what you are eating
D) SAVOR....describe what the after taste is or what we call the finish
E) FINAL THOUGHTS
That's it...put what you learned in class into this. Do NOT copy and paste some critics notes into this. I read and review about 100 critics comments a week so I'll SMELL someone else's work a mile away. This is all YOUR thoughts, ideas, suggestions and heart. There's no right or wrong but there is garbage. To say, "I liked this wine/beer with my turkey and mashed potatoes because it went good and I liked it so I would drink more because it tasted good...." isn't going to go over well.
This is easy and fun. Ask your family and guests what they liked about it and take mental notes. You'll learn from their comments as well. Impress people with what you learned. You'll surprise yourself with how much you know once you put that knowledge to practical use.
Remember, this shouldn't be or feel like work. This should be fun. Involve your family and friends."
Was that easy? Was I too harsh? I only wish my college work was like this although some of my classes were like this.
As of the Sunday after Thanksgiving, one student has taken advantage of this easy project. She sent me a text with a picture if the beverages her family chose to accompany the Thanksgiving festivities and again let me reiterate that this job is a constant learning experience where sometimes teacher becomes student.
Here are her beverage choices, keep in mind that her family is not a wine drinking family, so she went the craft beer route...
Beer of choice for Thanksgiving...
Shipyard's Pumpkinhead Ale
Wine of choice
Again, sometimes the teacher becomes the student and this pairing made me think on how it might actually fucking work!! If you're pouring Beaujolais Noveau, Rieslings, etc then why not Sangria? Sometimes the ridiculous is so obvious! Fruit component, dry finish, light bodied...family FUN!! Winning!
Fruit Punch Jell-O shots
I asked for an invitation to next year's Thanksgiving. She'll probably get an "A" for creativity, thinking outside of the box and effort.
The learning never ends!!