Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 29, No.14

April 21, 2005


MBA students acquire a good nose for business

By Barbara Black

Even the best school can’t supply some of the lessons a successful executive needs to know. That’s why the MBA students in the John Molson School of Business are going in for wine tasting.

Fifty-three students took a break from studying for their final exams on April 8 to meet sommelier Carola Price, of In Vino Veritas, for an evening of discovery.

Price graduated from a program at Mount Saint Vincent University given by the International Sommelier Guild, and she is a specialist in New World wines. Her wine tasting sessions make the point that the nose holds the key to distinguishing and appreciating wine.

Price had six participants don blindfolds and try to identify substances by their smell. The substances turned out to be the basic identifying elements of red or white wine: milk chocolate, crème de cassis, truffles, nutmeg, strawberries and orange extract.

She had the students taste four wines, but she made them wait a long time before they did so. First she told them about the best wine glasses — thin and relatively small; she never washes hers in soap, because it might leave a residue. They were told to hold the glass by the stem.

Then she told them to look at the wine against the white tablecloth, and pointed out various clues to its age and provenance. Next, they swirled their glasses clockwise, stopping briefly to “nose,” or smell, the wine.

When they finally got to take a sip, she advised them to breathe out afterwards to get the maximum effect. The students tried to identify the elusive flavours. Was that a hint of dried orange peel, or was there a little pipe tobacco in there?

All the wines she gave the students cost under $20 at the SAQ. Price chose a delicious Riesling from Cave Spring Cellars, of Ontario’s Niagara region, as the white wine.

She had the students taste three red wines. None was a Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon, despite their current popularity. The first was a Pinot Noir by Robert Mondavi, of California. The second was a Shiraz from Australia, and the third was a pleasant surprise — and a bargain.

“It’s a very strange wine, and not everyone will like it,” Price warned the students. “It’s meant for stinky cheese, runny sauces and bold flavours.” It turned out to be a $12 Cetto from Mexico, made from the Petite Syrah grape.

Here’s a quick quiz based on Price’s remarks.


1. What are the three basic types of wine?

2. What’s the difference between Shiraz and Syrah?

3. How full should you fill your guest’s glass?

4. What dish should never be served with wine?

5. When a wine tastes like truffles, what is it like?

6. Does wine have to be vintage to be good?

7. Can you keep leftover wine in the fridge?

8. Is it in bad taste to serve wine with a screw top instead of a cork?

ANSWERS to the wine quiz:


1. No, not red, white and rosé, but still, sparkling and fortified.

2. None; they’re the same grape. Shiraz, which is enormously popular in Ontario now, is of Australian coinage.

3. Half full.

4. Salad. The vinegar in the dressing ruins the taste.

5. The truffle is a fungus that grows under ground and is rooted out by pigs, so there’s a whiff of the barnyard, but wine connoisseurs prize the taste.

6. Certainly not. Ninety per cent of the world’s wine is meant to be drunk within five years. The other 10 per cent is very expensive.

7. Sure, up to two weeks.

8. In fact, it’s probably safer. One in 12 bottles is spoiled because of the cork. When people get past the idea of the screw top, it will catch on.

MBA Society adds social skills as supplement to their courses


This is the third year the MBA Student Society has hired Carola Price to do a wine tasting, and it’s part of a strategy aimed at adding value to its academic program.

These students already have degrees under their belts. They are taking the Master’s in Business Administration to fashion the knowledge they already have for the corporate world. If they can refine their personal skills to match, so much the better.

Kyle Deguire, president of the John Molson MBA Society, said that golf lessons offered last fall were equally popular. The Society runs a popular speaker series whose most recent event was a talk on the Molson-Coors merger.

It also runs a partner program that matches senior students with incoming students; not everyone takes advantage of it, but it can be a godsend for international students.

For the same reason, Deguire is pinning his hopes on an internship program initiated by the MBA Society, to be run with the Co-op Institute, perhaps as early as next September.

“It’s going to be great, because half our [MBA] population are international students who can’t work off campus, and it will provide MBA-level business experience to those who don’t have it.”

Deguire himself is an international student from the U.S. “I’ve only been able to do a paid internship with the Concordia Small Business Consulting Bureau. That’s only open to four people a year, so there’s a lot of competition. This program with the Co-op will make it possible to work in Montreal, or around the world.”