Educational Hospitality Course Has Students Wining and Dining in Class


Abigail Muth

Students in Wine Merchandising, Tasting and Technology sample wines with dishes they made in class.

Abigail Muth, Staff Writer

FGCU refines their courses to give students the best education to succeed in their future fields, including what they will discuss with future employers and clients. The School of Resort and Hospitality Management makes students feel prepared for every conversation they may have, including those about wine pairings and cultural dishes. 

The Wine Merchandising, Tasting and Technology course has been a part of curriculum since FGCU opened 25 years ago, with a lab in the Sugden Hall designed for this purpose. Over the course of the semester, students learn about different cultures’ cuisines and wines along with how to pair them. 

“I love that the students are learning to do all this on their own, it’s not always going to be done for them,” said Dr. Catherine Curtis, professor of the course and the director of Resort and Hospitality Management. 

The class is once a week and lasts almost three hours. They begin each week with a lecture on the new culture they will study for the week along with a wine native to that country. Sometimes they study multiple at once. 

Not only do they taste the wines and learn about where they are from, but the course goes in depth on what grapes are used for each wine and the history of wineries in that culture. 

After each sip, Dr. Curtis asks, “What would you want to eat right now with this wine?”

Students listening and observing how to begin their dish. (Abigail Muth)

She also brings to class each week small vials of “raw scents” to challenge students’ noses in order to be able to pick up on small hints of fruits and vegetables in the wines, something that wine connoisseurs would be looking for in future employees. 

Once the lecture portion of the class is over, the students move to the adjacent kitchen where they learn hands-on how to prepare meals that come from the countries they are learning about. Dr. Curtis often teaches the cooking portion of the lesson as well, but sometimes she brings in one of the in-house chefs if she doesn’t feel she has the correct amount of expertise in that specific cuisine.

“It is so great to watch them apply the things they are learning in the class,” Dr. Curtis said. 

In the kitchen, students get an extended lesson on the country and their native cuisines, but they are also learning basic kitchen skills such as how to properly use a knife, how to use certain kitchen appliances and tips for how to keep the area clean. “I love that this class is fun but still educational,” junior Brian Havner said. 

Havner is in the Golf Management Program and thinks learning about different wines and cuisines will help him build relationships and connections with his future clientele. 

He said that he would recommend this class to others in his major and the Resort and Hospitality Management program as these are important things to be knowledgeable about when preparing for future careers. 

The course is open to all students and requires a $55 course fee. Students can sign up for the course on Gulfline by searching the subject and course number: HFT 4688.

Students must be at least 19-years-old to participate. FGCU complies with s. 562.11(4), Fla. Stat., which allows students to consume alcoholif the alcoholic beverage is delivered as part of the student’s required curriculum at a postsecondary educational institution that is institutionally accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education..” (Florida Senate).