Wine and its culture are popular
topics on Bucknell’s campus
The family of Can Sarlayan ’ 17 has a small vineyard by its home in
Izmir, Turkey, so he always had an interest in wine. He just never
expected it to flourish when he came to Bucknell to get his mechani-
cal engineering and management degree.
Then Sarlayan began attending wine tastings hosted by Bucknell’s
chief oenophile, Professor Gary Grant, theatre, and grew determined
to learn whatever he could about viniculture. By last spring, he had
become one of Grant’s interns through the Kiken Endowment for
“For one of the tastings, I used my international knowledge,
researching wines from places like Turkey, Greece and Israel, which
have interesting wines, but are not very well known for it,” he says,
noting that Grant’s tastings are not an excuse to party.
In fact, Grant says, the tastings and other aspects of the endow-
ment began, in part, from Bucknell’s e;orts to find ways of moderat-
ing excessive drinking of alcohol on campus.
“I thought one way was to teach students more about wine and its
culture, but in an open and thoughtful way,” says Grant. When vintner
Norm Kiken ’64 heard about Grant’s wine tastings, he started the
endowment in 2007.
Now Grant hosts six wine tastings on campus a year, each with 60
students of legal drinking age and with an interest in learning about
wine. A dozen or so faculty also attend, he says. At least one or two
students, like Sarlayan, intern by researching the wines and helping
conduct the tastings, while Grant instructs the students.
Grant also teaches a full-credit course, From Vine to Wine, which
began this past fall semester and is open to 18 students. Its roster, he
says, fills up quickly.
“The students learn about grape varietals and the soils and climate
that best nourish them and how each wine can be di;erent,” says
Grant. Among the featured guests have been local winemaker Chuck
Zaleski ’83. Grant adds that his interest in classical Greek tragedy
played into the content as well.
“The god of wine is Dionysius, who is also the god of theater, Grant
explains. “All theater productions in ancient Greece would start with a
Dionysian ritual, so wine and theater are inextricably linked. When you
go to France, for instance, the Greco-Roman theaters are all in wine
When Sarlayan returns to Turkey after graduation he hopes to
convince his family to make more sophisticated wines. “I have very
much become a red wine person and love a good cabernet,” he says.
“We only have a simple red blend at home now, but we will see how it
goes. The weather is right, so it could happen.” — Robert Strauss