The South Beach Wine and Food Festival has officially kicked off! But look past the celebrities, the delicious bites and all those sips, and what you’ll find are over 1,000 FIU students who helped bring the event to life.

But after visiting the campus and learning how to make wine at home with one of the professors and some students, one thing is clear: we picked the wrong college major.

Wednesdays are for wine.

And February, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, this Thursday through Sunday.

Albert Rivera: “You can’t help but either be impressed or just have fun.”

…with help from 1300 FIU students!

Albert Rivera: “They’re so involved. You see the hard work and the fruits of their labor.”

It makes sense, since the event benefits its Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management ($34 million to date).

Albert Rivera: “This is a great place to really hone in on your passion.”

Freya Pan: “You learn a lot on history. We learn on people’s palates and people’s cultures.”

So, I met three members of the student wine guild, and professor Albert Rivera.

Albert Rivera: “Everything from brewing science to winemaking, and I also teach a class for food and wine pairing.”

To learn the art and science of winemaking — which, with a kit, you can do at home too.

Albert Rivera: “It’s intimidating, but it’s so easy.”

Albert Rivera: “We’re going to make a red zinfandel blend.”

Ingredient one: Bentonite.

Freya Pan: “Why are we adding clay to our wine? Is that how you get the earthy notes? But no, it’s just to clarify.”

Then, the good stuff…

Albert Rivera: “A lot of these vineyards have extra juice at the end of the day while they’re doing their harvest. They’ll actually pack it up and sell it to these companies that give it to us to make wine at home.”

But just to clarify…

Albert Rivera: “Alex, it’s not wine yet. It’s just juice.”

Alex: “Oh. [Throws box].”


Albert Rivera: “Heavily packaged skin.”

grape skins.

Alex: “What is this?! Nooo!”

Y’all, is it just me…

Alex: “You know, it’s really reminding me of… Psst! Haha!”

All right, let’s just…

Alex: “Ehhh!!!”

Now, throw in some oak chips.

Freya Pan: “This is a cheap alternative to using oak barrels.”

And finally, the yeast.

Albert Rivera: “This is the end of day one. In about two weeks, we go into stabilizing. Then we go into clarifying, and then within a month, we’ll have the wine be done.”

Turns out, a month is longer than five minutes.

Albert Rivera: “So impatient.”

But, plenty of time to name and brand our 25 new bottles.

Alex: “Deco Drive: Better with wine! [Accidentally spills wine] Hahaha!!!”

Alex: “Deco Drive: Almost 30 years in the barrel, and never more acidic.”

Alex: “Almost 30 years in the barrel, and I think we need a few more.”

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