Wine tasting class offers students unique opportunity

Tony Carlucci samples some wine during Geography of Wine on Wednesday. Students from every major are eligible to take the course. Photo by Thomas Song.

Samantha Pietra

In her home in Toledo, Betsy Mason, Kent State alumna, planned a dinner party. Before finalizing the evening’s menu, she sent an e-mail to her old professor.

“I try to use what I learned in my wine tasting class,” Mason said. “I still contact (professor Tony Carlucci) before a party, though, for pairing ideas.”

Students from all majors at Kent State are eligible to take Geography of Wine. With majors ranging from hospitality management to computer technology, Carlucci said he hopes his students will learn an appreciation for wine that can help them throughout their lives.

“The 20-somethings are the quickest growing demographic for wine tasting,” Carlucci said. “They grew up with parents drinking wine at home.”

The course is divided into one lecture class and four possible field experiences. While Carlucci’s field experience course can hold no more than 25 students, the lecture presently has 55.

Students have a course binder filled with 120 pages of reference information and pictures for everything they learn throughout the semester. In addition to it, they get a paper about the two or three wines they taste in class that evening.

As to why he took the class, Jordan Rutz, senior integrated health studies major, said, “I wanted to learn about wine.”

Carlucci said he believes his class will help students in their lives as well; he views his course as a business class. The desire to understand wine is increasing, he said, and anything that can give students an edge over their competition is a welcome advantage.

“I think it will help professionally,” said Dan Northern, senior computer technology major.

After catching an 8 a.m. bus to a vineyard, students in the field experience class have the opportunity to meet and talk with the vineyard’s owners.

“They see what it’s like to invest everything into something,” Carlucci said.

Students then tour the vineyards and multiple wineries to see how the wines were made. They do several wine tastings at each.

“I was always a red wine girl, but I wanted to learn more about the different aromas and tastes of wine and to hopefully like whites more,” said Melissa Kubik, a Kent State alumna. “At one of those wineries in that one day, we would have an amazing meal paired with a complementing wine.”

While other Ohio schools have also offered wine classes, Carlucci said none have been as in-demand as the Kent State selection. The combination of his passion for wine and knowledge of winemaking may both surprise students and stick with them even after graduation.

“I thought (the class) would be a bunch of drunk college kids not taking it seriously,” Mason said. “But Tony loves wine, so that was not an option.”

Contact Samantha Pietra at [email protected].