February 25, 2015
More than 20 wine marketing students from Texas Tech University are mixing up cocktails, using wine instead of whiskey, gin or rum, hoping to create a gold medal combination.
Natalia Velikova's wine marketing class is competing against students from Sonoma State University to create the best wine cocktail. It's not a typical ingredient in cocktails, but the competitors are hoping to change that.
“Many wine countries around the world have a healthy culture of wine cocktails, but except for wine spritzers, the U.S. hasn't really shown much creativity around wine mixology,” Velikova, associate director of the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute, said.
Velikova, also an associate professor in the Restaurant, Hotel and Institution Management (RHIM) program, said she and Sonoma State professor Liz Thach created the competition while attending the Wine Industry Financial Symposium last year. Concerned about the inroads craft beer and spirits were making in wine's market share, they wanted a way to make wine more hip.
The students loved the idea, Velikova said.
“They just never thought about wine being in a cocktail,” she said. “Usually wine is a separate product. You just drink a glass of wine.”
Justine St. Cyr, who is in Velikova's class, said she and her partner discussed a chocolate winetini and a cherry wine Dr Pepper before landing on their cocktail of choice – a combination of peach, ice wine and whiskey that channels the experience of honey whiskey. She didn't want to give too much away, but she's excited about the coming weeks of experimentation and presentation.
“I have been ecstatic about the project since I heard about it,” St. Cyr said. “I really enjoy wine, so helping it make a comeback in the form of cocktails is definitely something I can get behind.”
The Texas Tech students will submit recipes, creative names, pictures and video of them creating the cocktails. They will present their cocktails the first week of April, and each class will vote on its top three. Those six wine cocktails will be judged by a panel of experts that includes two master sommeliers each from Texas and California.
The results will be released mid-April, and the cocktail recipes will be featured on the new Wine Mixology blog.
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