Students competing in wine mixology competition

There is nothing wrong with a little competition. Texas Tech University and Sonoma State University are going head-to-head in a wine mixology competition and judged later this spring. 

Students at each university studying wine marketing will get the opportunity to create a tasty wine cocktail to be judged by a panel of experts. 

These experts include Ian Cauble and Gillian Balance, two Master Sommeliers from California, as well as James Tidwell and Melissa Monosoff, who are  Master Sommeliers from Texas. Also Tim Hanni, who has an extensive background in both food and wine recipes, will join the five-person panel. 

The idea for the competition came from two professors who were concerned about toll craft beer and spirits taking on the wine market share in the United States. Professors of wine business, Dr. Liz Thach, Master of Wine from Sonoma State, and Natalia Velikova from Texas Tech, were the masterminds behind this competition and began creating it while  attending the Wine Industry Financial Symposium last autumn. 

“While we were listening to some of the speakers describe the gains in market share of craft beer and spirits, and the allure of mixology,” said Tach, “we started wondering why people weren’t doing more with wine mixology.”

Sonoma State is definitely not new to the wine business. Founded as a partnership between the university and the wine industry, Sonoma State was the first in the United States to offer an undergraduate degree program, an MBA, and more recently in 2012, an executive MBA focused entirely on the business aspects of the competitive wine industry. 

However, Texas Tech University is also very familiar with wine business. Although Texas Tech doesn’t offer a complete wine degree, students can study wine in the hospitality program. In addition, undergraduate students may choose a wine track with specific courses related to grape growing, winemaking and wine marketing and sales. All are useful in this wine mixology competition. 

Velikova said, “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.

“Because of this, both professors have encouraged the students competing in the competition to look at the wine industry on a global scale and to research wine cocktails from around the world. By doing so, they will be able to add new and interesting ingredients along with attention- grabbing names to create a revived interest in wine mixology. 

Students competing in the competition will present their drinks the first week of April and each university will vote on their top three drinks. The final six wine cocktails will then be judged blindly by the panel of experts who will then decide on first, second and third place winners.

After the competition is judged, the results will be released in mid-April. The winners will receive cash prizes  donated by the Wine Industry Symposium Group, Young’s Market Company and Dolan Family Ranches.