Texas A&M is growing at a rate never seen before. So is the state of Texas. Hordes of economically-mobile masses have descended on our suburbs and outer city loops in the past couple of decades, and with that influx comes a massive demand for something else: a haughty and superior knowledge of wines.
When I was at A&M, the extent of wine appreciation among my circle reached to seeing who could smuggle the biggest flask into a formal at Messina Hof. In my later years there several (6 or 7?) friends and I would sit in a circle and pass around one of those large jugs of Carlo Rossi wines until it was empty. I also had a friend who made his own wine out of plums in a bucket in his spare bathroom. Not too bad. Must be what prison’s like.
I no longer partake of wine or anything else, but even in my consuming days, the rule of thumb was pretty simple: don’t drink it if it makes your face pucker and recoil in horror, and don’t spend more than $10-12 on a bottle of wine, and that’s for a special occasion. There’s an endless supply of variety out there, and it’s growing every day. No need to drop $50 on a Cab to impress anyone. We’re talking about a quantity that lasts about a half a dinner. Go to any grocery store near the more affluent parts of a major Texas city and try to count the Pinot Noirs. You can’t do it. There are more varieties of Chardonnay than BBQ sauce. Wine has replaced beer for the more “sophisticated” Texas backyard cooker-gourmand extraordinaire and now there are sommeliers everywhere because once you spend money on something, you are an expert on the subject matter (see football ticket holders).
But what do we know? Obviously not as much as the University, who is now offering a “degree with a Winemaking Certificate” and 15 hours of wine-centric coursework*.
The Enology Certificate program will begin in the fall and offer 15 hours of concentrated study in viticulture, pre- and post-fermentation winemaking processes, wine etiquette and sensory evaluation, according to Dr. Andreea Botezatu, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service enologist in College Station.
“The wine industry is growing exponentially in Texas,” said Botezatu, who will be teaching the enology course for the certificate. “With 400 wineries now and an increasing number of new starts, the state’s industry faces specific challenges such as the climate and the geographical particularities of the state.”
For a school that built the ultimate shrine to new-money tackiness in Kyle Field, this is perfectly fitting. Just imagine a couple of O&G attorneys sitting up in a box adorned with Junction Boys memorabilia, themselves one generation removed from Chicago accountants, discussing daughter Jaedyn’s decision last semester to tack on the Wine Cert. “She’s got an eye for the robust malbec, but wants to know what makes it tick, you know? Pass that bottle of Sutter Home, will you?”
Wine is great, everyone should enjoy it if they can. But it’s like anything else: once you start thinking too hard about something, the fun is the first thing to go.
*This article also contains the phrase “ladybug taint problem” without breaking stride, which is how you know it’s Serious About Wine. Ladybug Taint Problem is also a largely-unknown 1970s Romanian punk-ska band.
You have just opened Junction Vines, your Junction Boys-themed winery. What do you choose as your flagship product?
This poll is closed
No-Shade Chardonnay: with tones of pea-gravel and a mesquite bark finish
Sunstroke Shiraz: shades of degradation with hints of bonemeal and sand
Melanoma Malbec: bright cayenne aroma with a burning aftertaste
Off-The-Bus Pinot Grigio: notes of bitter failure followed by a tinge of shame
Bear Riesling: this playful dessert wine will catch you off guard when it induces projectile vomiting