What to know about Iowa State’s most popular class: Wine and Spirits


Photo: Randi Reeder/Iowa State D

A student picks out wine glasses to use to taste different American white wines.

Haley Thams

Wine and Spirits in Hospitality Management (HSP M 383) is a must-take course for some Iowa State students. 

Taught by Assistant Teaching Professor Stewart Burger, Wine and Spirits is a three credit class that students ages 21 and older are eligible to take.

The class is offered for students pursuing any major and counts toward a hospitality minor. The hospitality management minor is new to the 2021 fall semester and requires 15 credits.

There are five courses in wine and beverages including Wine and Spirits in Hospitality Management. This semester, Burger has around 600 students enrolled in the course. 

In this class, students can learn about the history and creation of wine, beers and spirits to broaden their knowledge. 

“We’re really geared toward them [students] understanding the product, because some of them someday will buy it and serve it or sell it to customers. So we want them to be able to talk the talk,” Burger said. 

Burger said many students are amazed at how much there is to learn about in the beverage industry. He said that they sample around 50 to 70 products during the semester-long class. 

The class has a sampling portion of products in order to get an appreciation for them. Students have the option to consume or spit out the tasting portion of the class. 

“It’s really not just for hospitality, it’s for anybody that wants to be an entrepreneur in the beverage industry,” Burger said. 

The more you know about each product, “the more you can talk to the customer,” Burger said.

There are other courses offered that do not require students to be 21+ if they want to pursue a minor in hospitality before then. 

Emily Pollock, a senior majoring in advertising, is currently enrolled in Wine and Spirits in Hospitality with Professor Burger. 

“I enjoy it because I had no idea about wine beforehand or really anything about alcohol and to know the history, I didn’t really know what I liked and it’s really nice that we get to sample at the end of class,” Pollock said. 

Pollock is taking the class with a few friends, which she recommends because it makes the two hour class feel shorter and is more fun.

Seats in the class fill up quickly. Pollock recommends talking with friends about registering as soon as possible to get the desired section either on Tuesday or Thursday. 

“If you don’t want to get drunk, you just got to not drink all of the wine samples, as tempting as it may be. Just try to eat a lot beforehand,” Pollock said. 

Jacob Smith, a senior majoring in political science, is also in the same section of the class. 

“I kind of already knew what I liked,” Smith said, but took the class to get a better understanding of the history of each product. 

Smith recommends the class to students who have an interest in the history of wine.

“The tasting at the end is just a benefit to learning about the history,” Smith said. 

More information about individual hospitality classes and Wine and Spirits in Hospitality Management can be found here