Hospitality students to practice wine-service skills in 2009

University Park, Pa. — For eight weeks every semester, students in Penn State's School of Hospitality Management plan, prep, polish, sauté and serve for a grade in their Mateer Building laboratory called Café Laura. Now, these same students will collaborate with other classmates to gain hands-on experience in selecting and serving the appropriate wine — a must-have skill in the world of fine-quality restaurants.

This month, the University received approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) for a secondary site as part of the existing liquor license for the Nittany Lion Inn. The license allows upper-level hospitality management students, who conduct all operations for weekly Café Laura theme dinners, to learn responsible professional skills for selecting, selling and serving wine at their café events. The students conduct their fine-dining service for the required senior-level course "Advanced Quantity Foodservice Management Simulation" (HRIM 430). The same beverage-service controls that are in place at the University's Nittany Lion Inn for its restaurants, banquets and other events will be in place at Cafe Laura, and the Café will serve only wine, as a complement to its fine-dining experience.

The secondary license also ends the Café's existing practice of "bring-your-own-bottle" and will allow the school to more accurately simulate the environment of a full-service, high-quality restaurant experience. It also helps ensure program viability and allows students to better manage the entire dining experience and process.

Students in HRIM 430 will collaborate with students from the senior-level elective course titled "Wine Appreciation" (HRIM 497D) to pair appropriate wines according to each dinner's theme and specific menu offerings. The wine appreciation course teaches students about the winemaking process and history, as well as wine's cultural and culinary significance.

All hospitality management students will gain experience in the responsible and educated service of providing wine to customers. The serving of alcohol will be overseen by faculty, professional staff and management from the Nittany Lion Inn, and all students will be trained and certified just as those at the Inn are currently.

HRIM 430 students are currently certified by the National Restaurant Association's Servsafe alcohol policy. As part of the PLCB's criteria for pursuing a secondary site license, these students also would be certified by the PLCB Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP).

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Last Updated March 19, 2009