|By Holly Johannsen, Iowa State Daily,
Ames, IowaMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 15, 2008 - The study of wine and other beverages is gaining prominence at Iowa State.
The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is introducing a new Grape and Wine Science course this semester, while the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Insitution Management expects to expand enrollment in its Introduction to Beverages course.
Stewart Burger, lecturer in hotel, restaurant and institution management, is beginning his 14th semester teaching Introduction to Beverages at Iowa State.
Burger said the class has grown in the last seven years and will probably expand from a maximum of 50 students to 100 students by the fall semester.
"We do a lot of sampling of wine," Burger said. "But it is so much more than that."
Although the class features wine sampling, students sample many other drinks, including beer, spirits, coffee, tea and bottled water.
The class focuses on such topics as beverage-making processes and how they differ, how to distinguish between different types of beverages and how to handle, store, sell and serve the drinks.
"These beverages have a huge part in the [restaurant] industry, so they are important to include," Burger said. "If you are going to be in the business, you should know it well."
Wine and other alcoholic beverages play a significant part in American culture.
Burger said references to alcohol can be found in the earliest records of civilization and that alcohol continues to play an important role today as a part of a variety of different aspects of American culture, such as religion, entertainment and the use of alcohol as a preservative.
"Alcohol today, when drank responsibly, is an important part of social interactions," Burger said.
Amy Goldsmith, senior in graphic design, took Introduction to Beverages and found the information helpful, not only for social interactions but for her major as well.
"Someday, my dream would be to design stuff for the restaurant industry," Goldsmith said. "I thought it would be a great class to take and understand the clientele."
Goldsmith took the class without knowing what to expect. As the semester went on she found it included a wealth of in-depth information, such as methods of fermentation, growing and production regions and the properties of different species of grapes.
When sampling drinks for the course, Goldsmith was often able to apply the knowledge she gained from the day's lecture.
"I think I have really developed a taste for different beverages," Goldsmith said. "I have learned what kind of alcohol I like, and it is fun to be able to distinguish the flavors and know what I am drinking."
Goldsmith said the class has taught her how to pair food and drinks so that the flavors of the food and drink complement and enhance each other.
She has found this helpful already and hopes to use her knowledge whenever she entertains guests in the future.
"I recommend the class for anyone who would like to be more cultured and learn more about beverages in general," Goldsmith said.
Burger said the most important lesson to learn is to really understand the products that influence an industry, including their flaws.
"We want students to appreciate it whether they like [the drink] or not," Burger said.
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