Number six on the list of the 161 things every Cornellian should do before they graduate is to take HADM 4300: Introduction to Wines. But this semester, the course will take on an entirely different flavor through virtual instruction.
Between using scratch-and-sniff stickers, non-alcoholic beverages and pre-recorded guest speakers, Prof. Cheryl Stanley ’00, hotel administration, is working to make sure the Wines experience is as close to previous years as possible — though this time, without wine.
Normally, a New York State law allows students as young as 18 to consume alcohol for educational purposes at an accredited university. However, without in-person classes, this goes out the window.
Stanley initially hoped for a hybrid wines class, with online lectures and in-person tastings, but soon realized the risk associated with removing one’s mask indoors, even briefly, that comes with wine tastings.
This abrupt adjustment forced her to start looking at more unorthodox methods of bringing tastings and aromas to students. Eventually, Stanley landed on the use of scratch-and-sniff stickers — with smells like apples, peaches and cherries — and “self-provided non-alcoholic tastings,” which can be anything from skim milk to black tea.
“The fact that there’s a cola scratch and sniff sticker and you get cola in pinot noir, it’s perfect,” Stanley said.
These are meant to give students an easily accessible comparison to many of the flavors and smells present in wine in addition to those identified and discussed in lecture.
Ava Niemeier ’21 was disappointed that the class inevitably shifted online, but less so about missing the wine tastings.
“It’s not necessarily what everyone was expecting, but I personally have no problem doing this since I’m not a big wine drinker by any means,” she said. “I think it’s still a good way to get a sense of what the taste and aromas are like.”
Stanley had scoured Amazon and “cleaned out” Staples in order to find enough scratch-and-sniff stickers for the class, which she paid for out of her own pocket.
“What is going on in the world around us is forcing us to react,” Stanley said, “and I’m just trying to make the best class possible despite the circumstances.”
Gabrielle Gonzalez ’21 agreed with Niemeier’s sentiment, saying that one of her goals for the class was to emerge a “wine snob.”
“I still think I’ll be able to do that without the wine tasting aspect,” Gonzalez said.
Both echoed concerns about the online webinar format, saying that it was somewhat isolating. With 175 students in the class, down from the usual 700, a webinar was still necessary for Stanley to conduct her class normally. She plans to supplement her lectures with clips recorded from guest lecturers in the past months.
Gonzalez, however, found a way to adapt, watching the lecture together with friends.
“It’s a little more fun, a little more feeling like it’s in-person,” Gonzalez said. “But I definitely miss going to class.”