Hurst Class Catalog: Wine and Spirits

Eva Mihelich, Staff writer

In today’s world, the alcoholic beverage industry is growing at a rapid pace with all sorts of new seltzers and creative drinks taking the center stage. Our society has started teaching people to chug drinks, rather than savor them, and to drink to drunkenness instead of drinking responsibly. This takes away from the artistic nature of drinking, in which you could taste each element of the beverage. 


At Mercyhurst University, students have the opportunity to take the course titled “Wine and Spirit Management” where they learn the principles of modern beverage management, marketing, and controls. Although required for hospitality majors, this course can help anyone to have a better appreciation and understanding of the role that alcohol plays in society. 


As stated in the course description, “Students will study the production and flavor of wine, spirits and beer in depth, and the role that these beverages play in the hospitality industry. Topics include liability, licensing, marketing and wine list creation. Visitations to regional wineries, distilleries, breweries and restaurants are scheduled based on availability; minimal travel fees may be required. Students will be certified through Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) training as part of the course.” 


Taught by an experienced winemaker, Bob Green, this class has taught many students the proper way to enjoy what you are drinking. Kailey Pisani, junior Hospitality Management major, shared that this course has been extremely beneficial for her career path: “Alcohol is everywhere. It’s at every event you will attend, it’s a very common topic of conversation amongst adults, and it’s a lucrative industry. I argue that having knowledge on the processes and varieties can be beneficial in many aspects of life, even if it is not an industry one chooses for a lifetime career!”


Pisani, along with two other students, Rhyan Santarelli and Kelly Lupton, said that a highlight of the course has been tasting the various kinds of wines and beers. Lupton said, “My favorite part of this course is tasting the different kinds of wines and beers. In this class, we learn about the alcohol through notes, and then through tasting it by holding it for a few seconds and then spitting it out. I have never been someone who likes alcohol; however, this class has helped me develop an appreciation for the many kinds of flavors that exist, and it’s so cool that we get to experience that.”


Tasting the alcohol being taught about is the only way to truly understand what is being taught in the class, which provides an immersive experience and fun hands-on activities. This course is a refreshing teaching on the sophistication of wine and beer, which is highly beneficial for college students where alcohol might not be viewed in that way. It provides students with a sophisticated mindset going forward in the world which will be filled with wine and beer in social settings. 


Santarelli offers her two cents on the matter: “If someone were debating taking this course, I would tell them that is a really great and valuable experience. This is information that you may not learn anywhere else, and you are provided with examples of everything you learn about at no cost.”