The Colgate Scene
September 2006

Educating the next generation of wine enthusiasts

[Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Attack. Evolution. Finish. Aftertaste. While quaffing beverages at the Jug, few Colgate students likely take the time to consider such things.

But there is one Colgate tradition that encourages education and reflection when it comes to wine. Each May since 1993, Harry Mariani '59 and now his son, James Mariani '87 — proprietors of the internationally known Banfi wine corporation — have hosted an annual abbreviated intensive wine class for Colgate seniors. The Colgate-Cornell Wine Education Program is designed to help new graduates feel knowledgeable and comfortable when it's time to order wine at a business dinner or to buy the perfect bottle for a party host.

Of course, personal enjoyment is also everybody's goal.

This year, 17 seniors were guided through the basics of the most popular red and white grape varieties. They learned a bit about reading wine labels, and pairing wines with food. By lunchtime, they had tasted 22 wines from all over the world, including an extremely rare 1990 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva from Castello Banfi that (if one can find it) sells for $250 a bottle. At the head of the class was Professor Stephen Mutkoski, the Banfi Vintners Professor of Wine Education and Management at Cornell, whose popular introduction to wine class enrolls 500 students per semester — all in one auditorium.

But Colgate students are known to thrive with the personal touch. After their private tasting class, they enjoyed lunch with yet more wine — which at last they were allowed to swallow. Mariani talked openly about his loyalty to his family's 87-year-old business, and his commitment to education and lifelong learning. He couldn't resist giving a bit of advice.

"Passion is a great thing to have — but that's different than emotion, which is just a reaction to things. Whether you want to make wine, write poetry, teach kindergarten, or become a lawyer, follow your passion and you can never be judged."

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