BY CLINTON DICK
Members of In Vino Veritas, the Law School’s two-year-old wine club, had their wine tasting skills put to the test last week during Wine Week, an event led by the group’s founder 3L Crystal McKellar and marked by, unsurprisingly, lots of wine and comments about wine.
For three nights, members consumed nine red and nine white wines, although they were not given the identity of the wines they were drinking. Members were encouraged to talk about what they tasted and to write down what they thought the name of each particular wine might be.
On the fourth night, the ante was raised as members were treated to three whites and three reds that had been served during one of the previous nights. After each tasting, members wrote down what grape they thought it was and the country and region where the grape was grown. Full credit was given if members answered all three questions correctly, but partial credit was given if the answer was close.
McKellar talked about the advantages of wine week. “Doing the wine tasting night after night internalizes wine tasting skills more than hosting an event only once a month,” she said. “It also showed who the diehards are, including me.”
Two-L David Grenker won the event, naming every grape correctly on the fourth night. “I don’t know if I could have done that,” McKellar said of Grenker’s win. “He has great taste bud memory and very sensitive taste buds to tell the difference between the fruits.” No prize was awarded to Grenker besides the admiration of fellow wine lovers.
The success of the event underscored the success of In Vino Veritas in the two years since its founding by McKellar.
McKellar came to HLS after completing a Masters degree at Oxford, and realized her previous experiences with wine tasting were not going to be met in her new academic setting. “Wine tasting was a primary activity for me at Oxford, and when I came to the Law School, I was afraid I was going to forget everything I had previously learned,” she said.
McKellar put on a wine tasting at Lincoln’s Inn her 1L year, but few people seemed interested in discussing what they were drinking. At the end of her first year McKellar applied for official recognition of a wine tasting group, and by her 2L year she had to turn prospective members away from her new group in order to comply with HLS alcohol regulations.
One of the successes of the group is the names of past wine tasting hosts. Through her networking at Boston wine tasting events, McKellar has convinced prominent wine producers and suppliers to host wine tasting events at the Law School. When she approaches these producers and suppliers, McKellar talks about In Vino Veritas as “a collection of 50 novice to expert wine tasters who are still forming their ideas about wine,” that soon “will have buying power” in the wine market.
Previous wine tasting hosts included Hidalgo y Vinacola, the oldest producers in Spain of sherry and Chapoutier, premier producers in the Rhone region.
McKellar says she began In Vino Veritas “to teach people to know how to examine a wine menu so that it does not look so foreign.” One of her goals was to make “wine less intimidating,” and to provide people with a language so that if they do not know what they want, “they can talk to people in a wine store, tell them what they like and ask for a recommendation.”
“When I talk to members, I get great comments, and people tell me they went out to dinner and could actually read the wine menu,” McKellar said. “The results are more than I ever hoped for.”
With McKellar graduating in the coming months, In Vino Veritas will come under new leadership when the old board picks the new board. McKellar is confident the new president will continue the tradition of wine tasting and, perhaps, garner the experiences he or she has had with In Vino Veritas to personally host a wine tasting.