Howard W. Hewitt – Academia has a committee for just about, well, everything. So two years ago I suggested ‘why not a committee on wine?’

Bon Appetit General Manager Mary Jo Arthur agreed. The occasion was selecting palatable wines for Big Bash, the College’s annual reunion weekend. We met, we chose wines, and had a great time. And, we were rewarded a few weeks later when many alums noticed extra effort went into the wine selection.
We repeated the grueling process Monday afternoon in Trippet Hall for Big Bash 2010. Chef Jordan Hall, Catering Manager Kecia Tatman, Arthur, Director of Alumni Affairs Tom Runge, and the resident newspaper/blog wine writer settled in for an hour and a half to sample more than a half dozen each of red and white wines.
The distributor brought a nice selection. The challenge is actually twofold. First, we have to find wines we think will be palatable to the broadest possible audience. Second, we’re not buying high end wines to serve 500-600 people so the challenge is to find the best wine at the best price.
Several of the others insisted they were not big wine drinkers nor experts, but sticking to the advice that it just matters what tastes good, we reached almost unanimous agreement.
We picked an Australian Shiraz for dinner Saturday night and a nice medium-bodied Chardonnay. For Friday dinner, we selected a typical Sauvignon Blanc and something really different for the red. We picked an Argentinian Bonarda. The grape was widely grown in Argentina before the explosive growth of Malbec wines. Bonarda is similar with a little more smoke and earthiness to the flavor. But it’s a smooth, full-flavored wine.
So why the wine geekiness ? Couldn’t we just set out some Merlot and Chardonnay? Sure, Arthur could order the troops to serve up the least expensive and easiest buy swill. But she takes her job seriously when it comes to pleasing student and alumni palates.
So the reconvening of the (try not to snicker here) Wabash College Wine Committee has done it’s part to make a great event even greater.