What a professor of wines teaches

A professor of wines explains how the subject is taught to future leaders of the hospitality industry

January 18, 2019 11:31 am | Updated 12:24 pm IST

Wine can yield a profit margin of around 70% in restaurants, making oenology an important area of expertise for future food and beverage managers. So it is no surprise that wine forms part of the curriculum at specialised hospitality management institutions.

Les Roches Global Hospitality Education in Switzerland is one such institution. Here, first-semester students of both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes attend the ‘World of Oenology’ course, studying the history of winemaking, viticulture, grape varieties, vinification, wine regions and appellations for four weeks.

As part of the course, there are several tasting and pairing sessions, focusing on the world’s major wine regions and grapes, but also discovering the autochthone varieties of the Swiss Valais region surrounding our campus, including visits to local producers. At the end of the course, students deliver a group presentation on a certain region and complete a written assignment.

Far and wide

With a diverse student body of over 90 different nationalities, the level of their previous wine knowledge differs drastically. While some European students, especially French, Italian and Spanish, already bring a solid understanding of wine, others might be tasting it for the first time.

In the Asia-Pacific region, where wine is not necessarily part of the tradition and culture, interest and consumption have risen dramatically, with China poised to become the second-largest market after the US. Another non-traditional wine market is Dubai, where sales are rising due to a soaring hospitality industry.

Despite different cultures and backgrounds, the course objective is to bring all students to the same level of wine knowledge.

However, there are always some students with interest in wine that exceeds the scope of a four-week course. Hence, the Les Roches Wine Club, a student-led forum for wine enthusiasts to deepen their knowledge, discover new regions and varieties, and discuss new trends at weekly meetings, often in collaboration with producers, appellations and export promoters.

Since 2016, the Wine Club has been organising an annual Wine Expo on campus, where students and the general public can sample regional wines, meet local producers and participate in educational workshops.

Students get the opportunity to attain a certificate issued by the Association of Swiss Professional Sommeliers (ASSP) through extra-curricular coursework and individual study.

Worth it

It’s a useful additional qualification to their hospitality degree, especially those interested in Food & Beverage Management, where wine knowledge can be a big career boost. Today, alumni and former Wine Club members have gone on to become sommeliers at some of the world’s leading hotels and restaurants. Students dive into varied careers, from running a wine hotel in Cahors, France to developing a consultancy business in emerging wine markets.

The writer is a service instructor and sommelier at Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, Switzerland. He is a holder of the ‘Brevet fédéral de sommelier’ qualification, and also heads the Valais chapter of the Association of Swiss Professional Sommeliers (ASSP).

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.