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Wine Appreciation course aged 35 years

By Adrienne Teague, University Relations Intern


Mel Young
UTC’s Continuing Education Division is offering its “Wine Appreciation course for the 35th time this fall. Mel Young, a local CPA in Chattanooga, instructs the ever popular and highly demanded class.

When Young began his professional career, he audited liquor distributors, which sparked his interest in wine. He then began to read more about wine and slowly began his extensive wine collection.

As he grew to appreciate the aged grape drink, Young stumbled across several articles in women’s magazines that explained the appropriate wines to drink with your dinner. As the United States became more aware of the wine market, a trend had also occurred among college campuses across the nation. Several universities were offering wine appreciation courses as part of their academic curriculum.

Young then posed the question, “Why not offer a wine appreciation course at the Chattanooga’s university?” And so, Young approached Chancellor William Masterson in 1971 with a proposal outlining a syllabus of the course, and he was granted the right to teach through the continuing education program.

The first hurdle that Young would have to jump was the location of the class. Because UTC was a dry campus then, as it is now, Young would have to offer the class at an off-campus site. He approached the Read House, located in downtown Chattanooga, and with much enthusiasm, the management agreed. Not only would the Read House be a monumental founding host for the first-ever wine appreciation course offered by UTC, it also became the first facility to host an off-campus course.

When the community became aware of a wine appreciation course being offered by UTC, some had choice words to say about the course and its administrator. After his second class in 1971, Young picked up the local newspaper and saw an article in the editorial section of the newspaper.

Young recalls, “The letter specifically referred to my class, it even said my name, the time and the place where the class was being held. It said things like ‘How dumb are you? Don’t we have enough alcoholics without having a class like this?’”

After the letter was published, a local television station came to Young’s class. Young giggles, “It was hilarious, because I had a professor sitting in on the class that night. Can you imagine the looks on their faces when they saw a professor from the university there?” Fortunately for Young, the response to the course has taken a positive turn.

With the course limitation of 18 students, which happens to be the number of ways to split a bottle of wine, students have managed to quickly fill the roster every fall semester. Young teaches the students how to read wine labels from different regions and countries, the five different categories of wine, and the history of wine domestication in the United States. The course is comprised of five informational sessions and several labs (where sampling of wines takes place). The only homework Young assigns is to encourage his students to attend wine tasting festivals.

This is just one of many classes offered by the UTC Division of Continuing Education. The class will begin Monday, September 12. For more information about this and other courses contact the Continuing Education Department at (423) 425-4344.

August 18, 2005

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