By the end of last semester, I had taken care of all of my major’s and college’s requirements, which left me with a senior spring that is relatively wide-open compared to past semesters. No more pesky courses in fields that have little to do with International Agriculture & Rural Development (I’m looking at you, physics…). I could take at least a few of the approximately two billion courses that I still really wanted to take before graduation, devote some more time to my extracurricular involvements, and have the chance to enjoy my last semester on the hill.
Probably the most recognizable course on the list is Introduction to Wines in the School of Hotel Administration. Taught both semesters of the year (with an auditorium capacity of somewhere around 700 people), the course will have been on the roster of about 50% of the senior class by the time commencement arrives in late May. Although the course is in the hotel school, students from every possible discipline are enrolled in it. It is, for example, the first class I’ve had in common with several engineering friends.
“If you pour it, they will come”
Why is it so popular? The tasting component. Or, as our professor explained in the first lecture, “If you pour it, they will come”. Each of us was given a kit with three wine glasses at the beginning of the semester, and with each weekly lecture, we explore a different wine-making region of the world, learning about everything from laws that limit alcohol content to the topography of a given region’s vineyards. As we go through the lecture, we taste wines from that region, and, in the case of last week’s class on the wines of New York, Washington, and Oregon, we can have the winemakers themselves talk to us about their work.
Much less recognizable but just as valuable is Understanding Wine and Beer in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. While it seems like both courses would seemingly cover the same material, the two courses are quite different in the content that they cover. As opposed to the course in the Hotel school that prepares students for the navigation of wine lists and the construction of food pairings, the CALS course is taught by microbiologists, flavor chemists, and other scientists from Cornell’s agricultural research station in Geneva, NY. We take a much more scientific approach to the cultivation and preparation of wine and beer (and the raw materials required for each). That said, we still taste a variety of beers and wines in each class.
What this has resulted in is a schedule that has me sampling wines and beers every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, while getting a good dose of agriculture, geography, and food/beverage knowledge, all of which I love. I couldn’t ask for a better couple of courses to round out my undergraduate career on the hill.