Jing Jiang / Sun Senior Photographer

A Hotel School favorite, Introduction to Wines has been modified for virtual classes.

April 9, 2020

Virtual Tastings and Drop Deadline Confusion: A Re-Introduction to Wines

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At 2:55 p.m. on Wednesdays, students used to file into Statler Auditorium for afternoon wine tastings in HADM 4300: Introduction to Wines. Now that the class has moved online, school-sponsored day drinking is no longer included.

Since classes would be online for the rest of the semester, the renowned School of Hotel  Administration course had to be almost completely remodeled.

Ordinarily, the class covered subjects such as evaluation techniques, understanding wine labels and food and wine pairing, according to its course description. The class also featured a notable hands-on wine tasting component that, although not required, is permitted to students even if they are less than 21 years of age, under Section 65, Article 5 of New York State law.

The instructor, Prof. Cheryl Stanley, hotel administration, said she had “tried her best” and was prepared to evaluate the state of the class at the end of each week “if something needs to be tweaked or reworked,” she said.

Last month, there appeared to have been some confusion on the drop-eligibility of the class. While students originally could not drop the course after the second week of classes, Stanley said she already communicated to her students twice that they could now drop the course.

Sarah Kimball ’21, who was a teaching assistant for the course in fall 2018 and spring 2019, is now enrolled in the class as a student. She said that “[for the] current conditions, the course has made a seamless transition.”

According to Stanley, the virtual transition required making changes to the course, including “asking the students to use their muscle/experiential memory from the first half of the semester to connect to the featured wines [of the second half].”

Stanley has also “built in two non-alcoholic tastings with household food products” so that students can still “experience concepts that can be found in food and wine pairing.”

“She even encouraged us to have a tannic drink, like coffee or black tea, and a fatty food, like cheese or deli meat, and we were able to actually experience the tannin breaking down the fat in our mouths,” Kimball said, referring to the chemical compound that comes from plants and fruit skins found mostly in red wines.

Having taught her first class Wednesday afternoon, she said that “all faculty are working hard to create the best class possible, so I hope that everyone within the Wines class community understands that this change affects all classes, not just Wines.”

Adam Schade ’21, a junior fulfilling no. 6 of the 161 Things to do at Cornell, was set on enjoying all of the in-person benefits of the class. Not wanting to graduate from the Hotel School without taking the “famous wines course,” Schade enrolled when he was under 21 “just for the fun factor of being able to drink underage legally.”

But regardless of the changes forced by COVID-19, Schade said that he is still pleased with the course.

“It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be, so I was very happy about that,” he said, and added that “my dad was able to sit in on the class with me, since it’s virtual,” as a bonus.

Correction, April 9, 4:28 p.m.: A previous version of this article misstated the full name of the Hotel School. It is the School of Hotel Administration, not the School of Hotel School Administration.

Clarification, April 9, 4:30 p.m.: This article was clarified to include the specific article under Section 65 of New York State law that concerns consuming alcohol under the age of 21 for educational purposes.