Take a trip to a winery for grape harvest and “crush” (think Lucille Ball). Learn about beer from a home brewer and historian on German brewing. Figure out how to sound smart at beer- and wine-tasting parties. Oh, and earn class credit.
A new class this year, Global Health Perspectives on Alcohol, will accomplish all of these goals and more. Housed in the College of Health and Human Service’s newly formed Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, the course will “investigate the impact of beer and wine in health and society from a global perspective,” according to the catalog.
In addition to a planned visit to the King Family Winery in Crozet, Va., other field trips will also be scheduled. They hope to hold many of the classes in downtown Fairfax, where the department is leasing the location of the old Metro Silver Diner.
“There will be a wine-tasting component and a beer-tasting component—we’ll try to understand the processes from a chemical point of view,” says Gabriella Petrick, associate professor in Nutrition and Food Studies. “In other words, what goes on in a winery or brewery?”
And that’s just the half of it. Students will also learn the trends of beer and wine consumption and production in the Western world from a historical perspective, including studying Prohibition. Other areas of the world will also be covered, like alcohol consumption in Australia or the making of banana beer in Africa. Some readings will focus on the archaeological and early historical evidence of wine and beer production.
From a global health standpoint, students will investigate the issue of alcohol abuse and explore different cultural attitudes toward wine and beer consumption. But students will also evaluate research on the possible health benefits of wine and beer.
“People actually drank more 50 to 100 years ago in the United States,” says Petrick. “So we will be looking at the so-called ‘taboo’ of alcohol in this country.”
Interested in brushing up on your booze knowledge? Spots are still available for the fall semester. Contact Petrick here for more information. Prerequisites include that students must be at least 21 years old and have taken basic chemistry and/or microbiology.