Wine & Restaurant Culture course at Xiamen University
Last week I spent five days teaching about Wine and Restaurant Culture to a group of Xiamen University “Materials” students from the Engineering faculty. I was especially honoured to be teaching in a classroom in the School of Marxism and had private chuckle wondering what Karl Marx would have thought of this unapologetically bourgeois programme.
The course was run in English to enable to students to listen and practice their language skills while learning about how restaurants work - from the Chef de Cuisine to the role of the Maitre'd. We also discussed the format of an a la carte menu and the table setting. With the clever smartboard I was able to draw (badly) with my fingers on the pictures as I explained how to set a table, the different utensils and glassware.
We had some practical role play opportunities where the student had to greet each other, seat as you would a customer and take a basic order. What we lacked in real-world equipment, was made up for by the genuine enthusiasm of the students to perform their roles.
I found an old menu from Hay's that I could display on the smartboard and for the student to order from. It even had some suggested wines to match.
We also had a session on body language and communication skills - how to greet and shake hands in a formal situation plus how to be liked: focus on making eye contact, smiling and nodding a lot.
The programme included an introduction to Wine. We discussed some leading grape varieties and different styles of wine - from dry white with tasting Joseph Mellot Sancerre along side Elephant Hill Sauvignon Blanc. As the students studied chemistry, they quickly grasped the winemaking process.
I also demonstrated how to to open an present wines. The Prosecco DOC Consortium generously sponsored Zonin Prosecco. Tasting wine was a completely new experience and I was able explain the process which they found very exciting!
I was also very keen to talk about what is happening in the Chinese wine world and to share with the students a Cabernet Sauvignon from Grace Vineyard's in Shanxi Provence.
For their assessment, they researched in pairs a Chinese winery and presented their findings to the class in English. The photo above is a presentation on Chungyu - one of the leading wineries from Yantai in Shandong province.