While I’m still compiling and formatting yet another fabulous overseas wine experience from Erleichda for today’s main Friday Fermentable, I experienced a bizarre convergence last evening after writing my post on my dissertation defense anniversary.
After plowing through my post, I was catching up on Google Reader and was pointed to the latest post by writer-bartender, scribbler50, and his new blog, Behind the Stick. You must go read his post on, “yet another annoying snobbery afoot in that place I like to call bar-land. . .the newly minted single malt connoisseur.”
The post by scribbler50 and the anniversary of my defense sent me back to the original mission statement of The Friday Fermentable on 21 July 2006.
Many reasons: I developed my interest in wines while in graduate school, where our chairman compensated us for guest lectures to pharmacy students with gift certificates to the local wine & cheese shop (yes, I trained in a great department). One of the co-owners of the store also taught an evening fun course at the U in wine appreciation and had a very open and inclusive approach to learning about wine that is evident in bylaw #3 of The Friday Fermentable:
3. To use this forum as a bully pulpit to offset the snobbery and exclusionary behavior of some alcoholic beverage experts that serve the counterproductive aim of alienating the public from gaining a rewarding, enriching, and stress-reducing experience.
After blogging for awhile, it’s fun to go back and read one’s writing; here are the specifics:
While at Florida, graduate students had the option of gaining teaching experience, but not simply as a teaching assistant for a large laboratory section. In our pharmacology department in the medical school, faculty members were responsible for teaching pharmacology to students in the college of pharmacy. To entice graduate students to take advantage of this “learning and career development opportunity,” our chairman and graduate advisor offered us graduate students additional compensation in the form of $50 (USD) gift certificates redeemable at The Wine and Cheese Gallery, a wine shop with an accompanying bistro (called Panache) near the intersection of University Avenue and Main Street in Gainesville. Still owned by two knowledgable and down-to-earth fellows, Wade Tyler and Bunky Mastin, The Wine and Cheese Gallery offered us young, budding professionals an option to Gainesville’s well-known party scene of $2 pitchers of beer, jello shots, the search for the true “Gainesville Green” cultivar of Cannabis sativa, and the subversive, nocturnal pursuit of Psilocybe cubensis growing in cow pastures across North Florida. So, I gave a lot of lectures…and bought a lot of wine for a graduate student, purely in the spirit of self-education, of course. In a separate post, I will hold forth on how those experiences (the teaching, not the wine drinking) told me I was meant to be a seek a faculty position with a substantial educational component.
I consider Wade Tyler as important as my dissertation mentor in molding who I am today. The University of Florida student union ran a series of what were then called “leisure courses” in the evenings, ranging from ceramics and performing arts courses to wine appreciation. The latter is where Wade became my other mentor. Wade ran a fabulous, participatory wine appreciation course that I found so enriching that I took it twice before leaving town for my postdoctoral fellowship. Wade is clearly an expert beyond description from three decades in the business and traveling the world tasting the best wines, beers, and cheeses. But his approach to us, mostly undergraduates and graduate students, was that wine was a beverage meant to be understood and appreciated by all, no matter what one’s social or educational class.
So thank you scribbler50 for putting up an auspicious post on a day when I wasn’t feeling too good about an anniversary. This time for reflection has given me a reason to give a holler today to both of my graduate mentors.