Kent State seniors learn the ins and outs of wine tasting

Megan Corder

Kent State seniors developed their pallets and expanded their cultural knowledge during the Alumni Center’s Third Annual Graduating to Wine event at Viking Vineyards and Winery on Friday.

Fifty seniors tasted six different wines — three red and three white — while learning the basics of wine tasting. Nick Minich, intern with the Alumni Center and graduate student for higher education and student personnel, said the event was designed to help seniors develop a more mature approach to drinking.

Wine terms defined/questions answered:

Dry wine: low sugar content

Sweet wine: high sugar content.

Year on the bottle: the year that the grapes were picked, not when the wine was bottled.

Shoulder on the bottle: designed to catch tartaric particles acid as one pours the wine.

Room temperature: between 55 and 60 degrees. Traditionally, white wines are served chilled and reds are served at room temperature.

Big wines: have a lot of flavor and feel.

“When [you] go out into the working world, you can’t really drink like you drank when you were in college,” Minich said. “That is why they call it graduating to wine, to kind of open up your taste buds, open up your pallet a bit more.”

Minich also said that the Alumni Center hoped to educate students who attended the event. The Alumni Center mandated transportation through Go2Go Taxi for all event attendees.

Dana and Jeff Nelson, owners of Viking Vineyards and Winery, educated the seniors on the wine making process, wine tasting etiquette and common terms in the industry.

“Wine is an amazingly complex topic,” Dana Nelson said. “We’ve been in this business for a long time, and we are still learning things.”

Dana Nelson said newer wine drinkers tend to start drinking sweet wines with high sugar content over dry wines with low sugar content. She said to truly enjoy the flavor of wine, drinkers must allow themselves to taste the grapes and not the sugar.

“If you drink a little bit more wine and you allow yourself to taste things, you realize that the sugar is basically covering up the flavor of the wine,” she said.

The couple also explained how years on wine bottles work and specific terms in the field.

“The year on the bottle has no bearing whatsoever on when the wine was bottled,” Dana Nelson said. “A lot of times you will see wine sitting on the shelf that says 2007, but you don’t know if it was bottled in 2007.”

This is the third year that Viking Vineyards and Winery hosted this event with the Alumni Center. Dana Nelson said that they always have a positive experience when working with Kent State students.

“The students brought the same amount of enthusiasm, the same level of interest,” Dana Nelson said. “So for us, it has been just a lot of fun because we’ve always had this same lovely, enthusiastic, attentive audience.”

The Nelsons started their winery in 1999 and have been awarded numerous silver and gold level awards for their wines at state and international competitions.

Alyson Raynor, senior finance major, said she enjoyed attending the event. She said it was beneficial because her job at home is at a wine store.

“It’s kind of nice to know more about wine when people ask you,” Raynor said. “Even drinking the wine was kind of nice to know what to do first.”

Jeff Nelson told students that the key to wine tasting is focusing on what they like.

“I always get the question, ‘What is a good wine?’” Jeff Nelson said. “The answer is really very simple: It’s the one you like. Nobody else can tell you what you like; the one you like is the best wine in the house.”

Contact Megan Corder at [email protected].