Sensory Activities
  • No sensory perception work attempted.
  • Tasting done in small groups bi-weekly during early part of semester. Focused on basic styles and common brands so that students could purchase at least a few wines if they had to miss the tasting.
  • Wine and food pairings done in class. Convenience foods used (e.g., cheese, sliced meat).
  • Wine component completed during the first 10 days of class.
  • Divided students into three sections. One day of tastings done per group. Held during early part of semester.
  • No sensory perception work attempted.
  • Students picked up kits containing small containers of wine prepared by a local winery. Tastings done synchronously.
  • Students were told of two wine options for them to purchase for each class. One was at a high and one at a lower price point. Tastings done synchronously.
  • Took wine kits to students’ homes and held tastings synchronously.
  • Students purchased wine from local stores. Tastings done synchronously.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages purchased by students and tasted during class to learn to detect wine structural components. Tastings done asynchronously.
What Worked
  • Felt like a normal tasting.
  • Pre-poured all wines, which minimized close contact with students.
  • Students voiced appreciation for the face-to-face experience.
  • Students did not get inebriated during the lengthy wine evaluations.
  • Called local company to setup wine list for students to pick up. Students found this process easy.
  • Students, instructors, and assistants not put at health risk.
  • Students turned on their cameras and verbally engaged during the tastings.
  • Students enjoyed and were engaged in the sensory activities more than during similar activities held face-to-face.
What Did Not Work
  • Increased class setup time. No laboratory assistant allowed in room.
  • Took more time due to students handling of masks, gloves, and shields.
  • Students did not do the preliminary out-of-class work. Thus, it had to be covered during tastings.
  • Too many wines evaluated in each session for adequate learning.
  • Difficult logistics getting all samples needed for a semester of tastings in one week.
  • Attendance decreased as the semester progressed.
  • Students could not be seen, tastings guided, or questions answered due to asynchronous format.
  • Limited number of wine samples able to fit in kits.
  • Students with COVID-19 were unable to pick up kits.
  • Taking the kits to students’ homes was inefficient.
  • Split wine into smaller sizes, but could not ship or distribute per state laws. Gave students a list of wines to buy, but they did not buy the same wines which resulted in chaotic tastings.
  • Except during the tasting sessions students engaged very little with the class and left their cameras off.
  • Many students did not participate in optional tastings as they couldn’t afford it.
  • Three computer screens were not enough to be able to see the class of 60 students during tastings and have a visual teaching aid open at the same time.
  • Students moved during the semester and thus were not able to pick up their samples or have samples delivered to them.
Changes Proposed
  • Students bring supplies to class (For example, water bottle, tasting guide, and hand sanitizer).
  • Provide students with health guidelines for all activities related to attending class and participating in tastings during each class.
  • Hold students accountable for the tasting component of the class.
  • Keep it simple. Focus on basic wine styles and familiar brands so that students are able to purchase at least a few on their own if they had to miss the tasting.
  • Be patient with yourself and the students. Cover that which is critical to achieve maximum learning in a limited time. Allow the students to explore more on their own.
  • Collect food and beverage safety protocols from government agencies and wineries. Review and create one specific for your establishment. Train assistants and students and stick to the protocol very carefully
  • Create tasting kits with small containers of wine over laid with nitrogen. Have students pick them up from a central location during the first week of class.
  • Turn the non-alcoholic tastings into a reflection assignment to ensure they are being completed.
  • Teach small tastings sessions outside (maximum of 15 students) and delivery theoretical content online.
  • If class must be taught completely online, eliminate the tastings and focus on the theoretical content.
  • Mail each student one of the commercially available scratch-and-sniff guides to wine sensory evaluation.